Oxford’s code of conduct with dockless bike-share firm Ofo means that users will receive a phone call if they park a bike outside the geo-fenced area for more than 24 hours. The move is an effort to encourage considerate parking and ensure bikes are kept where they are most needed.
Dockless bikes can be parked anywhere and while is the great advantage of such schemes, it has also given rise to problems.
In China, where most of the major operators originated, many cities have found their pavements blocked by large numbers of parked bikes, while in Bath, there have been issues with YoBikes from nearby Bristol which are not supposed to be left in the city.
As we reported on Saturday, Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford City Council and other partners have followed the recommendations of the European Cyclists Federation in setting up a code of conduct for bike-share companies to adhere to.
The Oxford Mail reports that the geo-fence area spans from Cutteslowe roundabout to Iffley and if bikes are parked outside this area for more than 24 hours then the last recorded user will get a phone call.
Ofo said its team would be working to monitor parking, but that it was down to people not to ‘misuse’ the bikes.
Joseph Seal-Driver, the firm’s operations director, said: “The non-docking bike-sharing model is completely new to most users, and there is a learning curve for people to understand the proper way to engage with the system.”
Echoing recent comments by rival firm Mobike about teething troubles in Manchester, he added: “We expect to see a decrease in misuse as awareness of Ofo and non-docking bike-sharing grows in the UK.”
Ofo also had its official launch in Cambridge this week, having deemed an initial 50-bike trial a success.
Cambridge News reports that the firm took the opportunity to unveil a new bike with a front basket, dynamo-powered lights and a new adjustable seat.
Joseph Seal-Driver, UK operations director, said: “There have been very few instances of misuse or bikes being abandoned. The way we intend to deal with these issues is we have a team of wardens on hand to deal with them straight away.
“We’ve also got GPS tracking on the app so we can tell if the bike’s somewhere it shouldn’t be. We get feedback from customers and residents who tweet us or give us a call so we can respond immediately.
“We are well equipped to deal with these teething problems. The more this kicks off, the more people understand how it works, and the better it is.”
He also expressed his belief that Ofo could help address congestion problems.
“Cambridge suffers from growth and we can’t get people in and out of the city centre. There’s a problem with pollution and congestion. Ofo decided to come here because we think we can help solve some of this city’s problems.”
Councillor Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council said that the city had certain expectations for how the service would operate.
“We set our stall out right from the beginning on what we expected from Ofo – persuade users to leave bikes at hubs rather than leave them anywhere and everywhere in our historic city, and respond immediately if bikes are causing are a nuisance.
“I’m pleased to say that working with Ofo has been a constructive relationship so far, and as long as Ofo is a clear addition to the city we will continue to work closely with them and their additional way for visitors and residents to enjoy Cambridge by bike.”