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Riding high: ofo brings station-free bike-sharing to Oxford
ofo, the world’s first and largest station-free bike sharing platform has today, launched in Oxford. The launch follows a very successful beta phase in Cambridge that has won community support and has seen ofo bikes used between 2-3 times a day on average, the same frequency as London’s Boris Bikes at launch.
- At launch, ofo will have 100 of its iconic yellow bikes placed around Oxford for the public to use. Users can find the bikes in popular areas like St Giles and Broad Street.
- ofo is also closely consulting with the cycle-friendly Oxford City Council to ensure its service seamlessly integrates with Oxford’s existing cycling infrastructure.
- It has also worked with the council on the creation of a code of conduct for bike sharing companies which was published last week.
Joseph Seal-Driver, ofo UK Operations Director commented:
“Oxford has taken some very positive steps to promote cycling and sustainable urban transport and we applaud their efforts. We’re extremely excited to be entering a city that is actively demonstrating a passion for cycling and tackling air pollution and congestion. We share the same ambition as the council to see more sustainable transport in Oxford and we believe ofo can significantly contribute to realising this goal.”
Ian Hudspeth, the leader of Oxfordshire County Council said:
“Oxfordshire County Council is investing millions of pounds to make cycling accessible and attractive to everyone, so we welcome investment from companies including ofo. We’ve established a productive, goal-oriented relationship with ofo and there’s excitement on both sides to get Oxford pedalling.”
Oxford City councillor Louise Upton added:
“Oxford is a leading cycling city and bike sharing when implemented well can get more people cycling, improving health and reducing the problems of congestion and air pollution. We have been in conversation with ofo for some time now and are encouraged by the way they have approached Oxford, as they have engaged with the Councils and the cycling community and are working with local bike shops to maintain their bikes, as well as being a living wage employer. We look forward to seeing how this new form of bike sharing develops in Oxford.”
How it works
- ofo’s eye-catching yellow bikes are hired through a smartphone app for just 50p for 30 minutes and can be picked up and dropped off anywhere that bike parking is allowed. ofo does not require riders to pay a deposit before use.
- To get access to a bike, all riders have to do is download the ofo app and unlock their nearest bike using ofo’s Bluetooth system. Once their ride is complete, users simply close the lock to complete their ride and make it available for the next person to use.
- ofo also employs geofencing to ensure riders only use the bikes within the designated ‘Home Zone’ which will be clearly visible on the app.
- From launch day, ofo will have a team of five ‘marshals’ available seven days a week, to answer any questions from users and to ensure the service runs smoothly and bikes are being parked responsibly.
Setting the standard
- In June, ofo released its ‘UK Charter’, outlining its on-going commitment to service management, responsible growth, and improving the UK’s transport infrastructure.
- ofo hopes the charter will serve as a call to action for all current and future bike sharing operators to uphold high standards of service at all times. The charter details safety specifications, community principles, responsible business practices and general service guidance.
- This week, ofo will showcase its upgraded bike fleet at a community event in Cambridge. The new bikes come with a front basket, dynamo lights and solar-powered back lights. ofo listened to and consulted with Cambridge riders who suggested baskets should be added to the bikes.
- About 50 users from the community, local policy makers, ofo’s local’s partners and media will attend as ofo has always been actively listening to voices from the local community and constantly responding to their concerns and needs.
- ofo is also the first station-free bike sharing service to join the Bikeplus accreditation scheme. Bikeplus’ accreditation provides assurance to local authorities on an agreed set of standards expected by operators when providing services.
Antonia Roberts, Director of Bikeplus said:
“We are pleased to award ofo Provisional Bikeplus Accreditation status. It is important during this time of rapid growth within the sector that there is a mechanism for maintaining high standards. ofo have engaged with Bikeplus and demonstrate a positive approach to ensuring the needs of the customer and local authorities are met. We wish them success in their new operations.”
- ofo raised over £541 million in Series E financing round in July this year. Since its launch in 2014, ofo has become the world’s largest bike-sharing platform in regard to both size and market share.
- With more than 25 million transactions daily, ofo connects over 8 million bikes to riders in 170 cities across the globe. ofo officially launched its service in Seattle last week while Japan is also expected to have the bikes soon. In total, more than 3 billion rides have been provided to over 100 million users globally.
- By the end of 2017, ofo plans to deploy 20 million bikes to the bike-sharing ecosystem, growing its service to reach 200 cities in 20 countries across the globe.
The full press release and hi-res images are available for download below.