“Uber for bikes” coming to Cambridge

Joanna Taylor 19 January 2017

Over 400 yellow bikes will be introduced to the city in a scheme nicknamed “Uber for bikes”.

Chinese company ofo has confirmed that preparations are underway for the scheme to begin in March, in which bikes can be hailed by a smartphone app and do not have to be returned to a set location.

Bikes instead must be dropped off on any public land for others to pick up, and do not require docking stations.

Ofo, whose bikes are manufactured in China by the company Phoenix, say that they want the scheme to be affordable to all Cambridge residents and particularly students.

Each journey will cost under a pound, and the company is considering setting up membership plans in the future. The introduction of the scheme was announced by Hillary Holden, the Cambridgeshire Country Council Transport Officer, on Twitter.

She called the move “further proof, if any is needed, that Cambridge is the biggest small city in the world”, as it is only the third city outside China to set up the scheme.

Ofo, whose company name is supposed to look like a tiny bicycle, have five million registered users in China, the majority of which are at universities.

Their company was recently valued at US $500 million by Bloomberg, and is now undertaking its first wave of global expansion.

A company spokesperson told Cambridge News that they are “going to bring our successful experience from China to Cambridge”.

The bikes they are manufacturing are purpose-built for British riders.

A similar bike-sharing scheme was launched by City Council leader Simon Sedgwick-Jell in 1993, but had to be abandoned after six months as most of the bikes went missing.