ofo bikes

This article was published in 2017, in Newsletter 134.

Most of our readers will be aware by now that dockless bike-sharing company ofo has arrived in Cambridge.

Camcycle’s current position is that, whilst we recognise the benefits of bike sharing, we are cautious about the effects on already very limited bike parking in Cambridge and the impact of dockless bikes in public spaces. We are also concerned by the implications of allocating public highway space to private bike hire organisations.

Camcycle has met with ofo a few times to raise our concerns and had positive discussions about the designs of the bikes themselves.

ofo has clearly taken our suggestions on board as is evident in the latest model of their bike. The new bikes now have front baskets, dynamo front lights and solar-powered rear lights. The locking technology has also improved and now uses Bluetooth which connects to the user’s smartphone to unlock the bikes.

The latest ofo statistics show that these bikes are used on average three to four times a day. The bikes are redistributed around Cambridge by electric cargo bikes with bike-transporter attachments. ofo is encouraging Camcycle members to report any issues they notice.

As for ofo bikes in public spaces, this is something the city council continues to work through with ofo. Simon Nuttall reported his experience of ofo in China (see Newsletter 131), however more recently it seems ofo bikes are causing significant concern in many Chinese cities (see www.bbc.com/news/business-41197341 and various New York Times articles).

ofo bikes have now expanded to Oxford and there are also plans for a number of boroughs in London. They have a bold aim to deploy 20 million bikes across 200 cities in 20 countries by the end of 2017. Camcycle will continue to monitor ofo’s impact in Cambridge.

Roxanne De Beaux