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Oxford could be next to see dockless bike scheme Ofo launched

Cautious welcome for convenient bike hire plans

Oxford could be the next city to launch dockless bikes, following controversial pilots in London and Cambridge.

The Chinese giant Ofo is hoping to leave a number of its bikes in the streets of the university town, allowing casual users to jump on from 50p a time.

It follows a three-week trial in Cambridge earlier this year, where 20 bikes were piloted.

But the company has been criticised for allowing its bikes to litter the streets.

The company's operations director Joseph Seal-Driver told the Oxford Mail it was attracted by Oxford's desire for a Zero Emission Zone by 2020.

He said: "Oxford's zero emissions zone is just the type of bold and aggressive thinking we need if we are serious about tackling air pollution and climate change.

"After a successful trial phase in Cambridge we are looking to roll out into a number of cities around the UK.

"We believe we could make a difference in Oxford."

Cyclox chairman Simon Hunt said: "There's a great deal of concern that they might come in with such a large number of bikes, they will flood the place.

"There isn't a lot of cycle parking in the city and these bikes could be left in places affecting pedestrians and other cyclists."

He added: "The quality of the bike is going to be all important and whether they are properly maintained.

"Having a variety of schemes is a good thing, whether its Boris Bike-style docking stations or dockless bikes, which are already up and running in the city through Bainton Bikes, and can be very effective.

"I would cautiously welcome it, we will have to wait and see but if it starts small and the bikes are good I look forward to seeing it prosper."

Cambridge City Council leader Lewis Herbert said: "Being a historic city, like Oxford, we can't cope with a 'leave and dump a bike anywhere' scheme.

"We worked with the firm to ensure a system, during the trial, where the bikes were largely left in or beside existing cycle parking rather than littering the city - and they were co-operative.

He added: "The trial was tiny to start with and they are now going to talk to us about hundreds in Cambridge and we are going to need a properly managed system."

Earlier this year we reported how Ofo is looking for ways to keep under-age riders off its bikes after an 11-year-old died in a collision on Sunday. Chinese law bans children under the age of 12 from riding bikes on public roads.

China’s various bike-share firms have attracted huge investment in recent times with firms such as Ofo having simplified the bike rental process via mobile applications with no docking stations required.

Ofo launched in Beijing in 2015 and now has around three million users in 34 cities in China. Last month it began its expansion abroad with launches in Singapore and California’s Silicon Valley.

The collision in which the 11-year-old lost their life also involved a coach and took place on a busy road in downtown Shanghai. It was the first known fatal collision involving an under-aged bike-sharing user and the incident was the subject of much discussion on Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter.

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brooksby | 6 years ago

Yobikes in Bristol, in all fairness, don't "clog the streets" with untidily dumped bikes. What they do do, is clog up the city's cycle parking with their tidily parked bikes instead. There are some sets of bike racks in the city centre now where you'll go to park and every stand is filled with a Yobike.

Metaphor | 6 years ago

Oxford is fast being leapfrogged by more forward-thinking intelligent cities that have installed modern infrastructure. I don't think this is the right place for such a scheme.

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