Dockless bike hire has landed in Islington and the City of London as bike sharing giant Ofo continues towards its aim of 20 million bikes globally.
Following a successful launch in neighbouring Hackney, the company distributed 100 bikes onto the streets of Islington this week, in collaboration with Islington Council.
To access a bike, riders download the ofo app and unlock their nearest bike via Bluetooth connection. Once their ride is complete, users simply close the lock to complete their ride and make it available for the next person to use.
The scheme costs 50p for 30 minutes, with no deposit required, and can be picked up and dropped off anywhere that bike parking is allowed.
ofo also employs geofencing technology to ensure that riders use the bikes within the designated ‘Home Zone’, where journeys should begin and end. Islington and Hackney residents will benefit from a single ‘Home Zone’ that covers both boroughs, clearly visible in the app.
Joseph Seal-Driver, ofo’s UK Operations Director, said: “We’re very pleased to announce that ofo bikes will now be available to cyclists across Islington, making getting from A to B in the borough greener, quicker and more fun.
“The bikes have proved a huge success in Hackney, and moving into neighbouring Islington will allow us to provide riders in the capital with even more flexibility and convenience.
“It is fantastic to be working with a forward-looking council like Islington, who have impressed us with their openness to the new ideas we need to solve the congestion and pollution problems facing the Capital.”
Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington Council’s executive member for environment and transport, said: “We will work with ofo to monitor progress and understand journey patterns and areas of high demand, so that bikes are properly distributed.
“Our Memorandum of Understanding with ofo sets out clear terms and conditions to avoid disruption and inconvenience, such as bikes creating unnecessary obstructions.”
Zhang Yanqi, 30, co-founder of ofo, said that cycling in London could reach Amsterdam levels with almost one in three journeys made by bike.
He told the Evening Standard: “If people love us.. I think we have a chance to bring more people back to bikes in London. Less cars on the streets and better air, and the cost is lower. It makes people live an easier life in London.”
He added: “The most important thing is not about the number of bikes in the city, but are we really helping the city to solve the problem... congestion, pollution, the commuting problem in London?
“The UK is probably one of the most bike-friendly markets in the world. We have a huge expectation for the UK. We are investing a large amount of our resource in the UK to make sure it grows healthily.
“I think there is an important trend that is happening. It’s not brought by us, but we are part of it - micromobility. People who live in the city are migrating from the car to bikes, e-bikes and scooters. We need to find an environmentally sustainable way to live in the city.”
Ofo is planning to introduce some electric bikes from next year.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.