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People in Cambridge are already calling Ofo's yellow bikes 'clutter'

By Ben Comber

ofo launch in Cambridge, Emma catchpole tries one of the bikes. Picture: Keith Heppell
ofo launch in Cambridge, Emma catchpole tries one of the bikes. Picture: Keith Heppell

MP Daniel Zeichner wants councils to have the power to licence the schemes, but government says they are monitoring the situation.

The delivery of 20 Ofo bikes on Thursday kicked off a three-week trial in Cambridge, but some concerns are yet to be addressed.

Cambridge MP and Shadow Transport Minister Daniel Zeichner has condemned the government’s relaxed response to the plans by Chinese bike-share company OFO to launch in the city.

In parliamentary questions and a personal letter to the transport minister, Mr Zeichner urged the government to move swiftly to give local councils the powers needed to respond to the new situation, and set up a bike-parking licensing scheme. In response, the minister says they will be ‘monitoring’ the situation.

Mr Zeichner said: “The government is leaving local councils, and local people powerless against companies with deep pockets but little understanding of how our communities work. Instead of just watching, the government should be moving swiftly to give councils the powers to protect us. Bike-sharing schemes could be a great success, but not if they get off to a chaotic start – we need action to make sure it works for everyone.”

While the council is still in talks with Ofo, Cambirdge City Council leader Cllr Lewis Herbert has expressed concern that Ofo is being represented only by a London marketing agency.

He also raised concerns about reports of a district in Shanghai that banned bikes in its historic centres and popular commercial streets due to clutter from rented bikes, including Ofo and its competitors.

“We still hold that rentable bikes with hubs would be best,” he said.

A Twitter user has labeled the bikes clutter, spotting three that wereparked next to a bike rack in CB1.

It has 480 more bikes in the UK, and a larger fleet of the cycles could soon be available in Cambridge, as well as other cities.

An Ofo spokesperson has said that the scheme could result in less bikes in the city. “Ofo has a philosophy of people owning less and sharing more. That seems to resonate a lot with the student community in the cities that we were in previously,” said an Ofo spokesperson on its launch.

“I think people see that Ofo isn’t as much a company as it is a community, so everyone who uses the bikes feels ownership for them, just as you, as a resident, feel ownership of a city.”

Ofo is optimistic that the nature of the scheme will encourage fewer bikes in the city but more cyclists, as sharing becomes the norm.


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