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Ofo, China's 'Uber for Bikes', says it will only trial 20 bikes in Cambridge initially

Company confirms it has shipped 500 bikes to UK - but not all of them are destined for university city

Chinese bike-sharing firm Ofo has confirmed that it has sent 500 bikes to the UK ahead of its launch here – but says not all of those will be destined for Cambridge, where it plans to trial just 20 bicycles initially to gauge local reaction.

It had previously been reported that the business, founded at Peking University in 2015 and now counting millions of users in China and expanding internationally, would deploy 500 bicycles in Cambridge, beginning in March.

Cambridge News reports that according to a spokesman for Beijing-based Ofo, the distinctive yellow bikes will start to appear “in the coming weeks,” but he said earlier reports of the numbers involved were wide of the mark.

“ofo has never said that it has/will ship 20,000 bikes overseas,” he said. “I can, however, confirm that 500 bikes have been sent to the UK ahead of the company's roll out here.

“All 500 that have been sent to the UK won't all be deposited in Cambridge,” he continued.

“Ofo will be trialling 20 bicycles in Cambridge for three weeks following launch and the number of bikes that are then rolled out and the speed at which they're rolled out will be influenced by the reaction of local residents, customers and the council,” the spokesman added.

In March, local cycle campaign Camcycle raised concerns about Ofo’s deployment of bikes in the city.

> Campaigners fear that Ofo hire bikes coming to Cambridge will not have lights

It said: “In the existing Ofo schemes the bikes are not equipped with lights. It seems highly unlikely that people using a system like Ofo would happen to carry clip-on type lights with them.

“The London Santander Cycle Hire bikes have integrated lights powered by a dynamo that are always on when the bike is in use. As lights are a legal requirement on cycles in the hours of darkness, not fitting these bikes with lights would be irresponsible of Ofo.”

It added that “details of the exact bikes that Ofo will be deploying are hard to come by,” and that “their publicity materials simply show pictures of Ofo bikes that have been deployed elsewhere.”

Simon joined 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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