Oxford's first dockless bike sharing scheme has come to the city in time for the Alumni Weekend
Alumni visiting Oxford for the Alumni Weekend on September 15-17 will likely be greeted by bright yellow bicycles of the sit-up-and-beg variety.
The first hundred canary-yellow bikes were scattered around the city on August 21 by Chinese company Ofo, as part of a six-week trial that will coincide with the University’s popular Alumni Weekend.
The main locations were St Giles, Broad Street and of course Frideswide Square, immediately next to the railway station. (Pictured)
Users do have to register to use a bicycle with a smart phone, downloading an ‘App’. The App unlocks the bike’s integrated lock.
Unlike the Boris-bike scheme in London, which has cost tax-payers £60m since launch in 2010 and relies on docking stations, the new wave of bike sharing schemes poised to sweep Europe are dockless.
Ofo Operations Director Joseph Seal-Driver claims that the company was attracted to Oxford because of its attempts to address transport problems.
‘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,’ he said, referring to a trial that began in Cambridge earlier this year.
The great advantage for cash-strapped city Councils is that the scheme costs nothing, but the fear is that the bikes will be poorly maintained and badly parked.
Anticipating this, Oxford City Council’s cycling champion, councillor Louise Upton, has helped to devise a Code of Conduct, anticipating further launches by other bike sharing providers such as oBikes, YoBike and MoBike. The Code includes a provision that says bikes should be parked adjacent to existing bike parking, so as not to obstruct pedestrians.
Chairman of Oxford’s leading bicycle advocacy group Dr Simon Hunt (Emeritus Fellow, Keble College), is cautiously optimistic, seeing the potential benefit of getting more people cycling around Oxford but adding, ‘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 adds: ‘The quality of the bike is going to be all important and whether they are properly maintained.’
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.’
Oxford City Council’s cycling champion, councillor Louise Upton, said: ‘There are lots of positives about this. The more people who can get bikes the better.’