Ofo among companies bidding for Edinburgh bike hire contract

Ofo bike hire is targeting the Capital. Pic: Greg Macvean
Ofo bike hire is targeting the Capital. Pic: Greg Macvean
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THEIR bright yellow bicycles have become a familiar sight in cities all over the world, used by people across 20 countries to make to make 32 million trips every day.

And now ‘dock-less’ bike hire company ofo could be coming north of the border in an effort to make Edinburgh its flagship for Scotland.

The innovative firm is one of a number of operators hoping to win a three-year contract to operate in Edinburgh’s hotly anticipated cycle hire pilot scheme. It has already launched in London, Cambridge, Oxford, Norwich and Sheffield, with more than 3000 bikes now on the UK’s roads.

Representatives from the firm yesterday visited the Capital to share their vision and give people the chance to check out their bikes as they put the finishing touches to their bid.

Ofo operations director Paul Spence said it was “incredibly exciting” to able to share their ambitions.

He said: “Edinburgh has been long awaiting a bike share platform. Edinburgh is a beautiful city for cycling and the bikes that we have are perfect for the city.”

The ofo bikes are a lightweight, three-speed model which can be unlocked with the click of a button via the firm’s smartphone app. Users can then ride them anywhere within the city for just 50p for a 30 minute trip.

The bikes can then be left anywhere within the city zone, although there are reward incentives for leaving them near ofo’s designated ‘hubs’. The firm employs ground teams to move the bikes should they become concentrated in particular areas.

Mr Spence added: “People are incredibly receptive to ofo bikes and bike sharing in general and we strongly believe that Edinburgh will be exactly the same. People are crying out for a bike sharing platform and we definitely think we’d be right for the city.”

It is hoped the cycle hire scheme, which is being led by transport body Transport for Edinburgh (TfE), could launch this summer and bring with it around 600 new bikes. Companies have until January 30 to submit their bids.

George Lowder, Transport for Edinburgh chief executive, said: “We are absolutely delighted by the significant number of notes of interest in the invitation to tender.

“It is very exciting that we have got to this stage and there is a tangible momentum about it now.

“It is important to note that we are not diverting any money from the transport or cycling budgets to do this.”

Transport convener Lesley Macinnes added: “I’m pleased that Transport for Edinburgh are moving forward with plans to introduce this.”