Euan McGrory: ‘Uber for bikes’ could be great for the Capital

Ofo bike hire is targeting the Capital. Pic: Greg Macvean
Ofo bike hire is targeting the Capital. Pic: Greg Macvean
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They have been described as China’s answer to ‘Boris bikes’ and Uber for cyclists.

The Beijing-based bike hire company Ofo is also a global phenomena. Within three years of being set up by five members of Peking University’s cycling club, it now operates more than 10 million of its distinctive yellow bikes in 250 cities across 20 countries. Now it has Edinburgh in its sights for its next ‘swipe and ride’ scheme. Users sign up through their smart phone and pay by the hour to ride one of the firm’s distinctive yellow bikes.

What makes them different is that you can leave them pretty much anywhere once you have finished for the next hirer to find.

It’s a simple idea and one that has proved hugely popular. So popular in fact that in some Chinese cities there is a problem with cycle clutter, with huge piles of bikes clogging public spaces.

There is no doubt that growing numbers of people in the Capital are embracing cycling and the healthier lifestyle that goes with it. A scheme like this would add to that movement and encourage more visitors to explore the city beyond the narrow confines of the city centre. With careful monitoring and management, it could be a great addition to the Capital.