Yet a fifth bicycle-sharing company has launched in Dallas, dropping more than 1,000 yellow bikes into inner-city areas such as downtown and Uptown Dallas. Called Ofo, it's based in Beijing, China, and has a fleet of more than 10 million bicycles in 180 cities and 13 countries.
With 1,000-plus bikes, Ofo jumps ahead to become the biggest bike sharing provider in Dallas. It represents the company's biggest expansion in the United States so far. Go Dallas.
Like other bike-sharing companies, Ofo uses an app-based program that helps you find bikes nearby. The bikes have a QR code that you scan to unlock the bike and ride. When you reach your destination, you lock it manually to end the trip. The fee is $1 per hour.
Ofo has installed an operations team in Dallas to oversee maintenance-related functions including ensuring their bikes are parked in accordance with local laws and regulations; re-parking bikes if they're blocking right of way; redistributing bikes to address user needs; and cleaning and repairing bikes.
The company is hosting a free introduction period: You can ride the bikes for free until November 14. Meanwhile, on November 4, Ofo will host a launch party at Snyder's Union on the Katy Trail from 9 am-5 pm; there'll be swag, lemonade, and a photo booth.
Ofo follows the dockless format, which means that people can leave the bikes anywhere, versus the docking station system, where people must leave the bike at a set location. Docking stations cost cities money to install while dockless are free.
Docking stations can be less convenient to riders who might have to leave the bicycle somewhere not near their ultimate destination. But dockless programs end up with bicycles strewn across town, with a percentage of bikes being subjected to vandalism. Inner city neighborhoods such as Deep Ellum have seen bicycles pile up on sidewalks.
Ofo joins four other bike-sharing companies in Dallas:
- VBikes, which has silver bikes, is the local company, based in Garland.
- Limebike, which has green bikes, is based in California.
- Spin, which has orange bikes, is based in California.
- Zagster, which has white bikes, serves the University of Texas at Dallas campus only.
Ofo's yellow bikes add another color to the Dallas bicycle rainbow.