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Cambridge trial of bike-sharing scheme to start “within weeks”

By Adrian Curtis

ofo bikes
ofo bikes

Chinese firm Ofo to launch 20-bike trial in city

The Beijing-based business told the Cambridge Independent that speculation that the scheme had already begun, or was to begin this week, was not accurate.

“We aren’t launching this week, but we will be launching a trial of 20 bikes in a matter of weeks in Cambridge,” a spokeswoman for Ofo said.

Ofo’s yellow bikes are free-standing, GPS-tracked and unlocked by using an app. They have been called ‘Uber for bikes’ and are similar to London’s Boris Bikes, only those need to be returned to a dock.

Concerns have been raised by cycling groups and Cambridge City Council that the scheme will lead to poorly-parked bikes cluttering the city’s streets.

But in a presentation to the council, released under the Freedom of Information Act, Ofo said: “The core concept of ‘non-docking’ breaks free from the restraints of a traditional docking station and, combined with internet technology and smartphones, makes the scheme a truly bicycle-on-demand anytime and anywhere.”

The scheme works on the basis of a mobile phone app which enables users to unlock bicycles from any location.

Ofo, which was launched in 2015, is the world’s largest bicycle-sharing platform, with more than 300,000 bikes and more than five million users in 24 cities in China.

Cycling campaign group Camcycle has concerns, as well as reports, that bikes have already been deposited in the city.

It says that although a “well-planned bike-hire scheme could be very useful for Cambridge”, details about the project have been hard to come by.

Camcycle officer Roxanne De Beaux said: “Camcycle cannot be supportive of a scheme that would cause more problems for people on bikes trying to park in the city centre, where bikes can be left anywhere such as in the middle of a disabled access route, and provides cycles without lights, which would be illegal to use in the hours of darkness.

“The lighting issue and the vandalism issue may be dealt with for the cycles that will be specified for use in Cambridge; however, Ofo are not sharing such details. The parking and obstruction issues will remain regardless.”


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