How dockless bike hire compliments a cycling city

This is a guest blog post by ofo, Norwich’s first dockless bike sharing system.
by Matthew Sparkes

Photo: ofo

Groups such as Norwich Cycling Campaign (NCC) and ofo share a simple goal. We want to give people the choice to cycle their everyday journeys.

Cycling can be a silver bullet for so many of the problems faced by society: pollution, congestion and the numerous illnesses caused by sedentary lifestyles which put pressure on the NHS. Bikes can transform the way we travel in towns and cities, but also transform the towns and cities themselves.

We’re fans of the work done by groups such as NCC and London Cycling Campaign (LCC) to improve the UK’s cycling infrastructure. We at ofo firmly believe that one way to improve safety for cyclists is to get more people riding – there’s safety in numbers – and that creating better infrastructure and offering convenient access to bikes feeds into a virtuous cycle.

Last month we announced a partnership with LCC which we hope will help us hit our ambitious target of boosting the number of journeys made in London by bike from current levels of 2% to more than 30%, making cycling more popular than in Amsterdam.

To do this we plan to roll-out 150,000 bikes across London, and the LCC’s experts will advise us on how to best meet the needs of cyclists, councils and the wider community.

We’re relative newcomers, having only arrived in the UK this year. But what a year. We’re already operating in Cambridge, Norwich, Oxford and London, and are soon expanding operations to Sheffield.

The reception from the public has been hugely positive. We’re increasing the size of our fleets, hiring additional staff, and new customers download our app and try our bikes every day.

As of today, ofo is ramping up operations in over 200 cities across 18 countries. Our bikes are hired 32 million times a day and we’ve helped over 200 million global users make four billion efficient, convenient and green rides.

In modern cities it’s not always convenient to own a bicycle, whether that’s because you don’t have storage space at home, you have to take a cramped train for part of your journey or because there are no secure parking spaces at your place of work. Dockless bike sharing can fill the gap. You could ride from your home to Norwich Railway Station, take a train to London, and hop straight onto another ofo at Liverpool Street. We can solve the ‘last mile’ problem. Simply open our app, scan the code on a bike and go.

There are still other issues to overcome. Surveys show time and time again that the biggest reason people give for not cycling is that they think the roads are too dangerous. Vast numbers of people really do want to cycle, but don’t feel able or safe to.

So, while we can help provide cheap and easy access to bikes, the work of groups like Norwich Cycling Campaign are vitally important. Building bike infrastructure suitable for modern cities will reap huge benefits, and NCC is helping to make this a reality by pushing for the best outcomes when the council builds new infrastructure such as the Newmarket Road cycle track.