Dockless bike hire scheme launches in Sheffield

Dockless bike hire scheme launches in Sheffield

ofo, the world’s first dockless bike hire scheme launches today in Sheffield with a fleet of 1,000 bikes - the largest of such a launch the UK has seen so far.

As part of the launch, all bikes in Sheffield will be free to hire for the first two weeks, and ofo collects no deposit when registering new users.

Sheffield is ofo’s first city in the north of the UK and follows successful launches in Cambridge, Oxford, London and Norwich.

The scheme is already used by 200 million users in 20 countries, making 32m trips every day.

From today, Sheffield residents will be able to hire a lightweight three-speed bike with the click of a button via the ofo smartphone app, ride it anywhere in the city, and lock it again for 50p for a 30-minute journey.

The entire fleet will be fitted with bright dynamo front lights, solar-powered rear lights and a handy front basket.

They also have a hydraulically-adjusted seat so riders of all heights can get comfortable in seconds.

Adam Rose, ofo’s operations manager for Sheffield, said: “ofo is set to stir up the way Sheffield residents travel in their city.

“Dockless bikes give people options that can challenge the private car. Like countless cities across the UK, Sheffield is marred by air pollution problems, often caused by congestion. By bringing ofo to Sheffield we are offering a clean, affordable and practical alternative.

ofo harnesses the fantastic potential of cutting-edge technology but combines it with the classic utility of the bicycle – something which I’m sure will appeal to the residents of a vibrant and thriving city like Sheffield.”

The company is working closely with Sheffield City Council to ensure the scheme provides a valuable and reliable service for the public.

Sheffield Councillor Jack Scott said: "ofo coming to Sheffield is great news for this city. This type of bike sharing is set to change the way we get from A-to-B for the better.

“Not only will ofo provide an affordable and convenient transport option for many, but it will also promote the fantastic health benefits of cycling - reducing air pollution and boosting healthy lifestyles.

"Sheffield Council has been working closely with ofo to ensure that dockless bikes are used responsibly and considerately following their introduction.

“That's why we support ofo's approach of gradually increasing the bikes on Sheffield streets after gauging usage patterns.

“This will help ofo bikes serve the right areas and the right people – enriching and supplementing Sheffield's existing transport options."

ofo is the first station-free platform operating in the UK to be awarded accreditation by Bikeplus, the UK representative body for bike sharing.

A Living Wage employer, ofo also engages with the cycling community and works with local bike shops to maintain its bikes.

At least 15 local residents will be employed by ofo on launch in the city.

The Beijing firm was founded in 2014 by five members of the Peking University cycling club and named ofo due to the word's resemblance to a cyclist on a bicycle.

ofo was launched in June 2015 in Beijing, gaining 20,000 users and 2,000 bicycles by October with investment funding from a Peking University alumnus.

By 2016, ofo expanded to other cities in China with a fleet of 85,000 bicycles by the end of the year.

A further $130 million was raised from tech firms Xiaomi and Didi Chuxing in September 2016, allowing the firm to expand globally.

In July 2017, ofo announced $700 million of additional funding in a round led by Alibaba, Hony Capital and Citic PE.