Cycling surely has a part to play in the way cities develop and Cambridge – the UK’s “cycling capital”– has even more options for cyclists following the arrival of new app-based services from Cycle.land and Ofo.
Ofo’s new bike sharing scheme, which had its European launch in the city recently, has already proven successful in 81 cities, mainly in China and the US.
The Ofo offering is app-based, so you download the app and if you see an Ofo bike – they can be left anywhere – you register the bike’s individual four-digit number and you are sent a three-digit code which unlocks the bike for your to use. It costs about 50p an hour.
There are currently 20 Ofo bikes in Cambridge, free to use for an initial trial period. The firm has 500 bikes slated for the UK and other UK cities including London and Glasgow have been mooted as possible candidates for the service.
Ofo spokesperson Alex Myers was in Cambridge for the launch.
“If you take the future vision of Ofo we’re a community that judges its success by the positive influence it has on the city and we can have more people cycling on fewer bikes which helps the city to breathe,” Myers told Eastern Echo. “We’ve found students are early adopters but anyone with a smart phone is given that impetus to ride and they’re having more fun and being better off for it.” Recent evidence suggests that cycling lowers the risk of an early death by 40%.
Myers says the firm is committed to working with the council to ensure that any concerns are overcome. “The data we get on usage is something we can help the council with so the city is less polluted, healthier and less cluttered.”
The other app is from Cycle.land, which offers users a wide range of bikes from 50p a day up to £15. The service is proving popular with students and short-term visitors.
While app-based bike sharing makes sense for short trips, the traditional bike hire models remain appealing for those wanting to use a bike for a period of a few days or a week. The average daily rate from retailers is £10 a day and £24 a week – and of course there’s a benefit to the city’s economy by opting in locally. Options here from Outspoken Cycles, Rutland Cycling and Bicycle Ambulance, among others, are all highly popular.
Cambridge’s healthy interest in cycling is likely to ensure that there is room for everyone. Of the Ofo concept, which was started by a student in Peking University, Camcycle’s Cycling Campaign Officer Roxanne de Beaux commented: “In a way it’s a shame that someone in Cambridge didn’t come up with it.” Very true!