Alex Bowden April 29 2017
The arrival of Ofo in Cambridge has given rise to fears about the potential impact on local bike shops. The global bike sharing firm recently made its distinctive yellow bikes available for hire in the city and concern has been expressed about what this might mean for local firms reliant on bike rental for a proportion of their income.
20 Ofo bicycles have been deployed as part of a three-week trial and the company says more should follow. There are also plans to launch in other UK cities later in the year.
The firm has seen extraordinary growth since being launched in China in 2014, in large part because its bikes do not need require docking stations – instead, users unlock the bikes using an app.
Councillor Noel Kavanagh, Cambridgeshire County Council’s cycling champion, told Cambridge News: “I think I can imagine a company from outside Cambridge seeing the fact we are regarded as the cycling capital of the UK and thinking this is a good opportunity. But they have not taken into account that most of the population that cycles have their own bikes.
“We also have something like 40 cycle shops in Cambridge and a number of those have cycle rental as part of their revenue stream. We need to be supportive of local cycling businesses because, only recently, two of our traditional cycling shops have closed down.”
Kavanagh also pointed to a shortage of bike parking spaces in Cambridge as being another concern.