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Dockless bike share firm Ofo to start operations in a fourth London borough

Chinese giant will be joined in Redbridge by Ireland's Urbo in north east London borough from 2 March...

Ofo has announced that it is to start operating in the London borough of Redbridge, the fourth local authority in the capital to have entered a partnership with the China-based dockless bike hire giant.

There are already 1,000 of Ofo’s distinctive yellow bicycles in London, and 125 will be added in Redbridge, which lies in north east London.

Ofo will be joined in the borough when it launches there on 2 March by fellow dockless bike hire scheme Urbo, says Redbridge Council.

The Irish business already operates in neighbouring Waltham Forest, while Ofo is present in the City of London, Hackney and Islington, where it faces competition from Singapore-based rival Mobike, whose bicycles are also available in Ealing.

Councillor John Howard, Redbridge Council’s cabinet member for environment and sustainability, commented: “The new dockless bike scheme is an accessible and affordable way to get people more active and reduce air pollution in the borough.

“The partnership with Ofo and Urbo is a really exciting opportunity to make the borough greener, providing an option for sustainable travel. I can’t wait to start using them!”

The news comes a week after Ofo welcomed a London Assembly report which called for tighter regulation of dockless bike hire scheme operators in the capital as well as recommending that consideration be given to allowing a small number of them to operate across the city, including in Outer London boroughs.

> London Assembly report calls for tighter regulation of dockless bike-share schemes

Ofo’s UK general manager, Joseph Seal-Driver, said: “We’re delighted that ofo has been selected to run a bike-sharing scheme in Redbridge.

“Our bikes have proven hugely successful across London and in other UK cities, and it’s particularly positive to be bringing Redbridge’s residents their first cycle hire scheme.

“This will give people more options for clean, green travel.

“We will be working collaboratively with Urbo and the council to ensure the residents receive the best possible service.

“Competition is healthy and ultimately benefits the public,” he added.

Last year, Ofo entered a partnership with the London Cycling Campaign whose chief executive, Ashok Sinha, said: “It’s great news to see dockless cycle hire arriving in Redbridge.

> London Cycling Campaign and Ofo partner up to get the capital biking

“Convenient and affordable access to cycles on demand will play a very important role in bringing the benefits of cycling to London and Londoners – and the best way to achieve this is by responsible operators working in partnership with boroughs in the way that Ofo and Redbridge have announced today.”

Founded by students at Beijing University in 2014, Ofo now has 200 million users in 21 countries worldwide, with 10 million bikes available in 250 cities.

The UK became its third country of operation and the first outside Asia last year when it launched in Cambridge, following earlier expansion to Singapore.

It has since launched in Oxford, Norwich and Sheffield, and will is due to start operating in Leeds shortly.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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John Smith | 6 years ago
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Oxford ones seem to work ok. They don’t seem to be abandoned in random places particularly, less so than privately owned bikes anyway, and are generally not put in bike parking, however that would be difficult in Oxford. I’m hoping it will reduce the number of abandoned bikes in the long term. The only issue is they are generally very poorly ridden, but I hope that helps other road users distinguish them from cyclists who cycle on a regular basis.

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DMR replied to John Smith | 6 years ago
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John Smith wrote:

Oxford ones seem to work ok. They don’t seem to be abandoned in random places particularly, less so than privately owned bikes anyway, and are generally not put in bike parking, however that would be difficult in Oxford. I’m hoping it will reduce the number of abandoned bikes in the long term. The only issue is they are generally very poorly ridden, but I hope that helps other road users distinguish them from cyclists who cycle on a regular basis.

 

My experience in Cambridge is quite different. Ofo regularly block bike stands when they relocate bikes. It's not unusual for me to return to my bike and have to shift 2 or 3 Ofo bikes before I can unlock my ride. The bikes are left all over the place, I often find them dumped in a bush in our local nature reserve. 

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ROOTminus1 | 6 years ago
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I still can't decide if the proliferation of bike hire schemes are a good thing or not.

Whilst the increased visibility of cycling can only be a good thing regarding the safety in numbers approach to us not getting killed, I'm still deeply skeptical of the businesses behind them.

We can't be garnering any favour from 'neutrals' in the cycling debate by the sudden appearance of these brightly coloured, frankly ugly looking machines being dumped on towns and cities and within weeks being strewn across the regions. (Opposition will find any excuse to hate on us). I understand they need to stand out for marketing reasons, and can't be too desirable in form to make them less 'nickable', but  there's not even a hint of design towards making these things more accepted by local communities.

I can perfectly understand the appeal to Councils too. There's a sudden unarguable change that they can claim works towards their *greener transport solutions tick-box*, with virtually no risk to the council, and not only at no cost, but an income from selling the franchise. The flip side, as I see it, is that money should be plowed back into providing cycle infrastructure; cycle lanes worth a damn (preferably segregated), and with regards to hire schemes; more and better cycle parking.

I know it's rather anecdotal than evidence driven (and probably subject to confirmation bias) but I have seen considerably more dockless hire bikes choking up existing bike parking than actually being ridden, and more being abandoned on roundabouts and in hedges than being left in sensible locations; on street corners or by bus stops. It makes me wonder how profitable a business these schemes currently are, and how many are running at massive losses in an attempt to out-last their opposition and gain a monopoly so they can raise prices at a later date to make back their 'investment'

I guess in all it should be a positive if the obvious flaws are addressed, but I still think there's a long period of settling in before we can conclusively say if it'll be a success or not

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srchar replied to ROOTminus1 | 6 years ago
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ROOTminus1 wrote:

We can't be garnering any favour from 'neutrals' in the cycling debate by the sudden appearance of these brightly coloured, frankly ugly looking machines being dumped on towns and cities and within weeks being strewn across the regions.

I initially had the same reaction, but look at the average residential street in London. Everywhere is absolutely littered with cars, barely any of which could be considered aesthetically pleasing.

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BehindTheBikesheds | 6 years ago
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Bike HIRE firm ...

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