Two people walking

Dockless bikes have been in the news a bit lately, with several companies launching similar schemes across the country.

At Living Streets we have been monitoring this largely positive development to see how it can integrate with existing plans to make cycling and, of course, walking natural choices.

In this guest blog post, one of the companies behind this new feature on our roads explains how it plans to improve cities across the UK with its service.

Fraser Seifelt of ofo
Walking

 

Living Streets says...

Dockless bicycle schemes have been popping up all over the UK over the summer, and Living Streets has been watching this new addition to the UK city transport mix with interest.

The potential to get more people out of their cars and cycling is exciting. But the introduction of dockless bikes in some cities has not been without it’s problems, particularly in the way bikes have been left blocking footways. 

Ofo claim to do things differently to their competitors, particularly in how they work with local authorities. Already operating in Cambridge, they are launching in the London Borough of Hackney this week. In their guest blog, they tell us how they hope to improve cities across the UK with their service. 

My name is Fraser Seifert, and I am Policy and Strategy Manager at ofo, the world’s first non-docking bike sharing platform.

We want to bring pedestrians and cyclists together to improve public spaces.

An exciting addition to the transport mix is popping up in towns and cities across the UK. Fleets of non-docking bikes are starting to appear, and with them the potential to dramatically transform the way we navigate around our towns and cities.

You may have even spotted our bright yellow bikes if you’ve recently been in Cambridge.

Here at ofo, we believe bike-sharing can benefit pedestrians, cyclists and the wider community.

So, we recently met with Living Streets to explore innovative ways to utilise our public spaces. Together we discussed ideas which could bring cyclists and pedestrians together in this rapidly changing urban realm.

Moving up a gear

The wider impact of bike-sharing on our shared urban space is plentiful and lends itself to positive collaboration.

Take for instance the repurposing of car parking spaces, an idea championed by Living Streets, which could be used to both alleviate the pressure on bike parking infrastructure and allow for better usage of public space.

Technological change is also a big driver in this shift to on-demand mobility and the arrival of non-docking bikes is at the forefront of this revolution.

It’s a simple proposition, a bike that is easy to find and fun to use. You simply open the app on your phone, scan and go.

Unlike traditional cycle hire schemes which insist on cyclists docking their bikes in set locations, often restricted to city centres, our model allows for users to park their bike in any area appropriate for cycling.

Ofo wants to bring pedestrians and cyclists together to improve public spaces

Fraser Seifert, Policy and Strategy Manager, ofo

What makes ofo different?

We take a considered approach working closely with local authorities and community groups in areas where we intend to launch prior to putting ofo bikes on the street.

Any concerns about parking, street clutter and vandalism are taken very seriously, which is why we do not parachute in with thousands of bikes overnight.

We are committed to playing an active long-term role in the community. Recruiting locally for our ground crew, who ensure bikes are moved to locations where demand is greatest, and using zero emission vehicles are just a couple of things we do to ensure our impact is a positive one.

Our app is built to incentivise our users to behave responsibly. Customers can report badly parked bikes and earn rewards for responsible use. These features help us set the tone for this considered and respectful culture of dock-less bike sharing.

This extends beyond those who use ofo bikes, to everyone we interact with such as the local businesses we use to service and maintain our bikes.

The way forward

Although bike sharing in the UK is still in its nascent phase, in a few years we hope it will be the method of choice for short journeys –  becoming a truly viable ‘last mile’ solution.

Bike share has a multitude of benefits; from helping users eliminate short drives and thus alleviating road congestion to cutting air pollution and relieving pressure on car parking. Not to mention the impact on individual’s health and the wider impact of healthier more active communities.

By making our urban areas more liveable and better connected, the potential social benefits for all are enormous, transforming our towns and cities into happier and healthier places to live, work, and play.

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