ofo bike sharing in Sheffield: 4 key questions answered

We love Sheff, but those hills can’t half be a struggle at times. Good news then that the global pioneers of non-docking city bike sharing, ofo, have just launched in Sheffield this month – their first venture in the north.

You might have noticed several hundred of the company’s bright yellow bikes appear overnight on the city streets and be wondering how it all works.

The initial phase will see over 1,000 three-speed bicycles spread across various pick-up points. A free app allows users to locate and unlock nearby bikes, from which point they will be able to cycle around the city for just 50p per half hour (daily charges are capped at £5). We spoke to Adam Rose, ofo operations manager for Sheffield, to find out a bit more about the benefits of the scheme and how people can get involved.

You’ve launched in London, Cambridge, Oxford… why now Sheffield?
We’ve successfully launched in several UK cities and have bold expansion plans for the coming year, but Sheffield was always high on our list. The city has a population of around 600,000 but a metropolitan area of commuters more than double that size. We can solve the “last mile” problem; when people park their car on the edge of town or leave a railway station, ofo will be there to get them to their home or office. Like so much of the UK, Sheffield suffers from congestion and pollution, which ofo will also be able to reduce. It’s time to get people out of their cars and onto bikes, and we can help make that really cheap and really practical.

Isn’t Sheffield too hilly for cycling?
It’s hilly, yes, but our three-speed bikes will help smooth those bumps out. Our bikes are lightweight as well – over 6kg lighter than London’s Boris Bikes. Sheffield is the ‘Outdoor City’ so is ripe for a cycling revolution.

What happens if people abandon bikes and cause an obstruction?
Our customers have proven themselves to be pretty responsible in other cities. Most of the time bikes are left neatly near existing racks. We also have designated parking zones where people can earn themselves free rides by leaving bikes responsibly in areas we want a constant presence in. As a last resort, we also have a feedback system in the app where we can fine or even ban persistent offenders.

How do you keep the bikes in good condition?
In other cities we’ve signed deals with local bike shops so we can be part of the local economy and help small businesses. That’s worked well and we already have agreements in place with local shops and charities here.

Check their video on how to use the bikes and app:

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