Ofo bike sharing successful in Prague 7

The Chinese-based company launched a pilot program last month

The bike service Ofo in Prague 7 during its first month of pilot operation has seen thousands of trips. The yellow bikes belong to one of several competing services that allow people to borrow a bike on the street using a smartphone app.

People usually borrow Ofo bikes in the morning from 8 am to 10 am They also use them for evening rides around 9 pm. Most often, the bicycles are borrowed at Letenské náměstí. The shared bicycles are mainly used to go to work or school.

The Chinese-based company Ofo was launched in the Prague in October with 300 yellow bikes in Prague's streets. They can be borrowed free of charge under the pilot project. The bikes will be available for testing as long as weather conditions allow for cycling.

“We are glad that the inhabitants and visitors to Prague 7 have enjoyed the yellow Ofo bikes and are using them. In the spring of 2018, the operation of shared bikes will not be limited to Holešovice and Letná. We are very pleased to be involved in negotiations with the City Council for setting up general rules for bike-sharing. We are talking with city districts about suitable locations for traffic,” Fred Dong, who is responsible for the expansion Ofo to Europe, said according to daily Pražský deník.

“Some users want to use bicycles for most of their journeys from home to work, although the main mission of Ofo bikes is fast and inexpensive transportation for ‘the last mile,’ mostly from a subway station or a tram to the house,” he said.

The system for bike sharing does not require a bike rack or other fixed docking place to leave the bike once someone is done with it. The bikes are locked and unlocked by an app on a mobile phone. The app sends a passcode to the user, and the code is used to open the lock on the bike. The free app is available in Czech for the iOS and Android platforms.

Once the ride is completed, the user can leave the bike in anywhere there is no danger to traffic or pedestrians. It is then locked and available to other people to use.

The firm Ofo has been operating since 2014 and now has 10 million bicycles with 200 million users in 180 cities in 13 countries. The company worldwide is valued at over $1 billion. Overall, it has provided 4 billion rides. From April to June of this year, users rode more than 1.2 billion kilometers, saving 84 million liters of fuel.

In 2017, Ofo joined the United Nations Development Program, and in August 2017 it made a partnership with the Clara Lionel Foundation, an American nonprofit organization founded in 2012 by singer Rihanna to benefit impoverished communities across the globe.

This is not the first bike sharing service in Prague. A project called Rekola has pink bikes that can be used for free for up to 15 minutes, and then require a rental fee. This system also uses a mobile phone app to unlock the bikes. The program started in 2013 and has expanded to other Czech cities.

The firm Homeport has bike sharing in the Prague 8–Karlín section, using green bikes. These have specific docking stations. Bikes can be rented for a full day but have to be returned to Karlín.

Czech Railways also has a bike rental program so people can ride bikes at their destinations but not have to transport them. Bikes can be taken from one station and returned to another.

Prague attempted to launch its own bike sharing system but had the cancel the bidding process due to mistakes in the tender process.


Related article:
Bike sharing launches in Prague 7 - Prague.TV, 25.09.2017

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