Pilot Bike Sharing Program ‘ofo’ Rolls Out

By Sue Ellen Woodcock

If you see someone on the streets riding a yellow bicycle, it’s part of a new ride share program that is the largest in the world.

The mayor and the Healthy Community Initiatives launched a  pilot program of a citywide, bike-sharing program with the world’s first and largest station-free bike sharing company, ofo.

The funny little company name is more of a logo than a word, said Grace Lin, vice president of ofo U.S.  The word is also a logo for the company meant to look like a bicycle.

“ofo looks like a bike,” Lin said.

Lin and her crew dropped off 200 bicycles  in Revere Monday morning and Lin said they hope to expand to the program in 2018. The system is paid for by ofo and comes at no expense to city taxpayers, Arrigo said.

Lin said Worcester is the only other community in Massachusetts with ofo bicycle program, but around the world are 1 million bicycles in Bejing and 3,000 employees globally with programs in 13 countries.

Lin said she does ride a bicycle for work and pleasure.

Using a bicycle is easy with ofo’s phone application and smart lock technology, riders can rent and park bikes anywhere that complies with Revere’s local laws.

“ofo bikes will give our residents a new, convenient option for both commuting and leisure,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo. “This bike-sharing program offers residents a low-cost way to travel around the city. Whether it is to work, to school, to MBTA stations, to the Northern Stand Community Trail or to Revere Beach, we hope our residents will take advantage of this program.”

Users will be charged only $1 per hour to use a bicycle. Bicycle users have to download the ofo app available for iOS and Android. The app helps users find a nearby bike via GPS, unlock the bike by scanning a QR code on the rear of the bike, and start their ride. Once a ride is complete, locking the bike ends the trip automatically and the user will receive a digital receipt and map of their route. Payments can easily be made via credit card through the app.

Julie DeMauro of Revere on the Move, who brought the program to Revere, said biking is a popular mode of transportation in Revere

ofo employs geo-fencing along with a credit system to curb improper usage and encourage users to follow its policies and guidelines.  Riders are encouraged to use their own helmet.

“Less than 1 percent of the bicycles ever get stolen,” Lin said.

As in all other cities where it operates, ofo will also have local, on-the-ground maintenance and management staff. The team will redistribute bikes based upon daily usage patterns and provide regular maintenance. Users may contact ofo customer service at [email protected] or (844) 289-9747 or report issues through the app.

“The parts of a the bicycle are made in China and assembled in South Carolina,” Lin said, adding that headquarters are in San Francisco.

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