Sun 4 Feb 2018
Move over Boris, with the arrival of the Ofo, city cycling just got a lot easier
Ofo bike hire
Price Download the free app, then 50p per 30 minutes, with a daily maximum cap of £5
Where In 250 cities across the world, and counting
The guy who chains his bike up next to mine at work takes no chances. He has a D-lock for both front and back wheels, plus a cable lock that he twists around the frame. Then, in case someone is still tempted, he removes the saddle and puts it in his rucksack. The laugh is, of course, that his bike is probably worth less than the price of the two locks. But he has a point. Up to 400,000 bikes are stolen in the UK every year, and we cyclists are used to living in a state of lockdown. So it comes as a shock to see a bicycle left unguarded and vulnerable, chained to nothing. It’s like seeing a wallet on a table. It’s a mistake. Surely no one would leave it there on purpose.
But they have. In fact, they plan to leave these bikes all over cities around the world. The bike is the Ofo (or oFo – it looks like a person riding a bike) and it’s the first and largest “station-free” cycle-sharing company. Ofo is essentially a “free-range” Boris. You can ride and park it anywhere. You don’t have to hunt for a docking station. The bikes are activated through a free app on your phone. You walk up to the distinctive yellow frame and scan the little solar-powered panel on the rear mudguard. This releases the back wheel and off you go. You’ll be charged 50p per half hour, which is taken straight from your account. When you’ve finished, leave the bike wherever you like, scan it again, and wander off with impunity. If it’s then stolen it’s not your problem.
Scan and go: the solar powered lock also tracks every journey the Ofo makes