New bike-sharing system cycles through Tempe

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Ofo yellow bikes
Ofo yellow bikes are popping up all over town. Users can download an app and ride the bikes for only $1. – Photo by Chelsea Flood

If you’ve spotted an unattended yellow bike parked in arbitrary spots around town, don’t fret—they do indeed serve a purpose.

The dockless two-wheelers are part of a new variety of bike-share programs that debuted this past December.

Dockless bikes lock themselves and do not require a rack or station. Users, though, are encouraged to avoid blocking public rights of way or parking bicycles on residential properties, at bus stops or in alleyways.

Tempe’s official bike share vendor is GRID, operated by CycleHop.

Launched last May, this docked system provides another alternative to residents and visitors for getting around the city with ease.

Since the project’s startup, users have taken over 20,000 rides on the 300 bicycles located in Tempe.

In December, dockless bikes began operating in Tempe without any formal agreement with the city.

Ofo, the yellow bike provider, is a station-free bike sharing company that began operating in Tempe about three weeks ago.

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“The…innovation and the nice effect of this bike, aside from being a good bike, is it can kind of be everywhere,” said Paul Vidal, general manager of Ofo in Phoenix. “You’re never that far from one, and you don’t have to go a mile or two out of your way to look for a dock.”

Ofo works similar to Uber or Lyft. A smart phone app is required to unlock and pay for the bike.

Ofo bikes cost $1 per hour to ride.

“Tempe is a community that really makes sense for the bikes,” Vidal said. “The weather makes sense, the user profile makes sense.”

But with a couple thousand Ofo riders a day in Tempe, Vidal said there will always be a handful of complaints.

Because the bikes are dockless, in order to secure the bike properly, the back tire automatically locks in place.

“A lot of users…they take liberties with the bikes and put them in places they shouldn’t be,” Vidal said. “That’s the nature of a lot of the complaints we see.”

Ofo Yellow Bikes
Ofo yellow bikes are popping up all over town. Users can download an app and ride the bikes for only $1. – Photo by Chelsea Flood

Vidal insists that these occurrences are rare.

“But that doesn’t excuse them at all,” Vidal said.

In Tempe and Scottsdale, Vidal said he has a combined staff of 20 whose full-time job is to
“rebalance” the bikes. Each bike is GPS-tracked and monitored based on how often someone rides it.

“What that means is finding where the bad bikes are, or shouldn’t be, via the GPS network we use with these bikes, collecting them and putting them in places that can serve people,” Vidal said.

The city is currently looking into the legalities of the bike rental companies’ use of public rights of way as well as city property, said TaiAnna Yee, a public information officer for the city of Tempe.

“Moving forward, Tempe is working with other cities (Phoenix, Mesa and Scottsdale) to create a regional solution to address dockless bikes,” Yee said. “The city is doing its best to create regulations for these companies to follow. We are in the process of re-examining our city ordinances so that we may recommend modifications to our City Council to allow for a more orderly system.”

Vidal said if there is a bike that needs to be moved promptly, the best way to contact Ofo is via e-mail at support@ofobike.com. Bikes will be moved within 24-hours.

“We’re excited and committed to working with the city,” Vidal said. “We’re not good stewards of our community if we don’t take care of business that doesn’t work.”

For questions or feedback regarding dockless bikes, contact the companies directly. Spin: (orange bikes) 888-262-5189; LimeBike: (green with yellow) 888-546-3345; Ofo: (yellow bikes) 844-289-9747.

For information about Tempe’s bike sharing program, visit tempe.gov/BikeShare.

 

7 COMMENTS

  1. My daughter and i was in Tempe to visit and we walked to A.S.U ( 2miles from the condo) and we got tired on our way back and the bikes were truly a blessing for my feet lol … and once we were done we parked them right in front of the condo and they picked them up without us calling anyone // LOVE IT !!!

  2. There’s an OFO yellow bicycle in our neighborhood, Stapley and Brown in Mesa. It’s been at the same location for over a week. So someone is supposed to pick it up? RIDICULOUS!

  3. My experience is seeing more and more of these “ride-share” bikes being stripped of whatever can be used on another bike or simply being trashed. A few weeks ago, there was nothing but the metal carcass of a yellow bike on 36th Street and Thomas around the corner of Earll. The bike had been stripped of everything – the tires, chain, pedals, and even the handlebars. I sent a message that same day to OFO through Facebook to let them know and the next day the carcass was gone from that corner. But – the sad fact is, I’ve seen several of the yellow ones (in particular) vandalized, trashed, and damaged in ways it would make them unusable.

    I realize that this is some kind of social experiment being perpetrated against the public (because, WHO really invests hundreds of thousands of dollars on handing out bicycles to the general population and thinks they are going to get satisfaction knowing they are helping people get healthy?) without considering the human equation of people being able to ruin it for everyone else?

    Simply put; I feel like the idea has merit, but when you consider the fact that Phoenix is in the middle of a proverbial frying pan, and not geared to be ethnogenic like China or Sweden (where people frequently use bicycles over motorized transportation) you had better expect vandalism and mischief. If you give something like the ride-share program to people, there is always going to be a certain level of miscreant behavior perpetrated.

    The social experiment comes into play by being able to stealthily track the types of users, where the bikes are used more, and where the bikes are most likely to be damaged, stripped, or otherwise rendered unusable. I’m sure there is an app that is used to ‘rent’ the bikes and the source of payment has got to be a credit or debit card which is linked to your bank accounts which are linked to your home address which is linked to your employment which is linked to your ethnicity (because we all checked that box) and so on and so on. It’s not just Cambridge Analytical that is collecting your information – anywhere you use your debit/credit cards is too. These ride-sharing companies are doing this (in my opinion) to find out how many people are going to use the system and how many are going to abuse it; and they are finding out the demographics about these people too.

    Just some food for thought. Think before you hop on one. Somewhere, someone is always going to have access to your info.

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