ofo bicycles bike-sharing china

For just a few cents, users can unlock a bike, get to their destination, then leave the vehicle at their destination for others to use. Source: Shutterstock/atiger

Hundreds of Ofo bikes to hit the streets of Sydney

BEGINNING Wednesday evening, hundreds of yellow bicycles from the world’s biggest bike-sharing company will hit the streets of Sydney, as other rivals struggle to survive in Australia and amid a huge debate about the bikes cluttering public spaces.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Beijing-based Ofo, which boasts over 10 million bikes in 18 countries would begin to distribute 200 bikes around Sydney, ready for the commuter rush on Thursday.

Ofo’s launch in Sydney comes at a time of controversy in other parts of the country with some city-dwellers complaining that thousands of shared bikes were littering their streets as users park them haphazardly in inconvenient places.

Despite the complaints, Australia’s latest bike sharing system has no restrictions on where users park their bikes, leaving them prone to being abandoned at places that create a nuisance.

The 200 bikes introduced mostly in the central part of the city will be accompanied by another 400 places and councils nearby.

Ofo’s Australia head of strategy Scott Walker was quoted as saying the company will provide 25 to 30 “preferred parking” zones in each council area. The zones will be monitored by CCTV to prevent vandalism and theft.

The movement of the bikes, he said, will also be restricted within a “geofence” that alerts riders who go beyond the company’s operational zone covering Martin Place, Ultimo, Surry Hills, Kings Cross, Redfern and Erskineville.

And while Ofo presence in bustling Sydney offers to gain wider prominence of bike-sharing, other companies are facing less fortunate circumstances.

Ofo’s Chinese rival Bluegogo appears to be in turmoil and is reportedly selling its business to Changzhou Youon Public Bicycle System Co, according to Technode. The company has also denied selling off due to cash problems.

Bluegogo’s customers have also raised grouses over late refunds on deposits and the company has set Nov 10 as the new deadline to return their cash.

The bike-sharing boom in China enjoyed by Ofo and Mobike has also seen a number of similar companies winding down their businesses in recent months. Coolqi, which supplies golden bikes that carry phone charging equipment is the latest victim to be claimed in the oversaturation of the market which flood Chinese streets with an assortment of bikes.