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Dockless bike share company "thrilled" by reception in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 08:50 07 January 2018 | UPDATED: 09:01 07 January 2018

ofo bikes are happy with their start in Norwich.  Picture: ANTONY KELLY

ofo bikes are happy with their start in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

The people behind the first dockless bike share scheme to launch in Norwich are "thrilled" by its reception in the city.

Operations manager, Joseph Seal-Driver, at the launch of ofo bikes in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLYOperations manager, Joseph Seal-Driver, at the launch of ofo bikes in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The Beijing-based company ofo launched 200 of the distinctive yellow bikes across the city at the end of October and the fleet has since been increased.

The bikes can be picked up or dropped off from anywhere that a bike can be legally parked. By downloading the ofo app, users locate bikes near them and unlock them via bluetooth, completing their ride by re-locking the bike upon arrival at their destination.

Matthew Thomas-Keeping, ofo’s operations manager in Norwich, said: “We’re thrilled with the way the scheme is operating in Norwich. The city is perfectly suited to bike sharing and our fleet has proved hugely popular. The fact that they’re yellow has helped because people here identify with them.”

Numerous bikes have been vandalised since the launch, including several bikes which were thrown in the River Wensum in November, however, Mr Thomas-Keeping said the city had been very receptive as a whole.

OFO bike being recovered from the river. Picture: Nigel BrocksOFO bike being recovered from the river. Picture: Nigel Brocks

He said: “The level of vandalism has been extremely low and we have a great team of local marshals on the ground to deal with any issues. We started with 200 bikes in late October and have carefully increased numbers in line with demand. We now have 350 bikes on the streets across the city.

A spokesperson for Transport for Norwich said: “Cycling in Norwich has gone from strength to strength over recent years with investment in the pedalways network. The arrival of ofo is a great addition to these improvements and we’re pleased to see it proving so popular as a convenient and flexible way to explore the city.”

However, the Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed it is considering offering councils powers to license and penalise bike hire companies amid concerns over bikes being dumped irresponsibly.

Joseph Seal-Driver, ofo UK operations director, said the company is in favour of regulating the industry.

He said: “We’ve long called for consistent nationwide regulation for bike sharing to give customers and local authorities the confidence that the highest industry standards will be upheld at all times.”

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