Ofo bike fleet in Norwich grows to 1,000 as hundreds more cycles hit the streets

ofo bikes on Prince of Wales Road. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

ofo bikes on Prince of Wales Road. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

Hundreds of new dockless yellow bikes have hit the streets of Norwich today as cycle hire company ofo has expanded its Norwich fleet to 1,000.

Launch of ofo bikes in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Launch of ofo bikes in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The new bikes will add to the 350 which have been parked around the city since the scheme was launched last October.

The three speed bikes are designed for easy access, and can be parked anywhere it is legal in the city.

The launch in Norwich got off to a rocky start when three of the cycles were vandalised and thrown in the River Wensum within 10 days of coming to the city.

But the company has said it is 'leading the way on responsible operation of dockless bike sharing, working closely with Norwich to ensure the scheme provides a valuable and reliable service for the public.'

Launch of ofo bikes in Norwich. Operations manager, Joseph Seal-Driver.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Launch of ofo bikes in Norwich. Operations manager, Joseph Seal-Driver.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

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The company also employs marshals on the Living Wage to manage its fleet.

Joseph Seal-Driver, ofo's UK general manager, said: 'We were delighted with our launch in Norwich and have been pleased with how the bikes have been received by locals.

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'It's fantastic to see the way ofo has enriched and complemented the existing transport infrastructure. That, in great part, has been down to our close work with Norwich City Council to ensure that the bikes are serving areas of need.

'There has been a step change in the way the city gets around as a result. Here at ofo, it is our goal to get Britain cycling. Thanks to Norwich residents, we're seeing that vision being realised.'

Norwich City Council has welcomed the scheme which ties in with its ambition to improve cycling facilities in the city.

Councillor Mike Stonard, cabinet member with responsibility for transport, said: 'Cycling in Norwich has gone from strength to strength over recent years with Transport for Norwich improvements to the pedalways network. The arrival of ofo is a great addition to these facilities and we're pleased to see it expand and become so popular as a convenient and flexible way to explore the city.'

ofo has also announced it will be providing 'Bikeability' training to encourage new and lapsed riders to try the scheme and ride more often.

They are the first station-free platform operating in the UK to be awarded accreditation by Bikeplus, the UK representative body for bike sharing.

Vandalism level 'extremely low'

Numerous bikes have been vandalised since the launch, including several bikes which were thrown in the River Wensum in November.

Matthew Thomas-Keeping, ofo's operations manager in Norwich, said the city had been very receptive as a whole.

He said: 'The level of vandalism has been extremely low and we have a great team of local marshals on the ground to deal with any issues.'

However, the Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed it is considering offering councils powers to license and penalise bike hire companies amid concerns over bikes being dumped irresponsibly.

Joseph Seal-Driver, ofo UK operations director, said the company is in favour of regulating the industry.

He said: 'We've long called for consistent nationwide regulation for bike sharing to give customers and local authorities the confidence that the highest industry standards will be upheld at all times.'

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