Everything you need to know about Ofo as bike-sharing firm leaves Norwich
Archant Norfolk 2017
As Beijing-based Ofo announces it is withdrawing its bike sharing service from Norwich, here is all you need to know behind the company which brought bright yellow bikes to the city.
What is Ofo?
Their lemon-coloured bikes have become a familiar sight around Norwich, and the company boasts that they were the first dockless bike sharing scheme in the world.
The idea behind Ofo is anyone can scan the barcode on one of their bikes with their phone, use it for a certain amount of time, and then lock it again at any location.
Payment is then taken through the app.
Initially 200 bikes were available in the city, but by March this year the fleet had grown to 1,000.
Ofo began in China in 2014 and now has 200 million registered users – around 200,000 of whom are in the UK – and 10 million bikes around the world.
When did they launch in Norwich?
Ofo launched in October last year, when Norwich became the fourth UK city to host the bike sharing service. Worldwide it was reported at the time that they were in 180 cities across the world.
But it has since been reported they have pulled out of a number of cities, including Sheffield and Norwich. Overseas they have ceased operation in Australia, Israel and India.
How were they received?
The launch in Norwich got off to a rocky start when three of the cycles were vandalised and thrown in the River Wensum within 10 days of coming to the city. But in March Joseph Seal-Driver, Ofo’s UK general manager, said: “We were delighted with our launch in Norwich and have been pleased with how the bikes have been received by locals.
“It’s fantastic to see the way Ofo has enriched and complemented the existing transport infrastructure. That, in great part, has been down to our close work with Norwich City Council to ensure that the bikes are serving areas of need.
“There has been a step change in the way the city gets around as a result.”
What now for the firm?
Mr Seal-Driver said they would now focus on “other key markets,” specifically London.
As part of its mission to focus on the capital, Ofo has signed partnerships to operate in 10 boroughs, which it claims gives it twice the coverage of its nearest bike-sharing competitor and three times that of the existing Santander Cycles scheme.