World’s largest bike-share company rolls out service in Worcester
Worcester, Massachusetts—The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with bike share company, ofo announces that Worcester, Massachusetts is among the first U.S. cities to benefit from ofo’s U.S. expansion. The Worcester launch took place on Thurs., September 14, 2017.
The Chamber has led the discussion about establishing a city-wide bike share program for more than a year with stakeholders from various groups including the Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA), Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Council (CMRPC), Higher Education Consortium of Central Massachusetts (HECCMA), the city of Worcester’s planning office, and the city manager’s office. Together, these groups explored the program’s feasibility for Worcester and researched a number of existing bike share programs. Much of the group’s time and energy were focused on infrastructure, safety, and cost.
Ofo, which launched in China in 2015, addressed all of the group’s concerns and more. Now the world’s largest and fastest growing bike sharing platform with more than 25 million active users daily in over 170 cities around the world, ofo offers many benefits to the city.
“We are excited to bring ofo’s signature yellow bikes to Worcester,” said Grace Lin, Vice President of ofo North America. “ofo was founded with a simple vision in mind – to unlock every corner of the world. Already we’ve seen our impact in cities around the world – easing the burden of commuting, providing access to those who need it, enhancing tourists’ transportation options, and reducing the impact of buses and cars on the environment. We look forward to working with the Chamber of Commerce to make ofo a success in Worcester.”
Unlike many other community bike shares, no financial commitment or sponsorship was required helping the group to pass a significant hurdle. Additional benefits of the ofo bike share program include the flexibility allowed by the station-free program that does not require docking stations or even a bike rack. Bicycles are located using a GPS finder on ofo’s mobile app. Bikes are equipped with a smart lock on the rear wheel that is unlocked when a user scans the QR code on the bike, using her or his phone. When the trip is finished, the user parks the bike in a legal space and locks the bike ready for the next rider. The company re-balances bikes to ensure that they are available in high-use areas, maintained, and parked appropriately.
The ofo service is affordable for almost all budgets with charges set at $1 per hour. The company’s pricing was a key factor in their selection as it makes the bike share accessible to all types of riders: from low income people looking for an alternative way to work; to college students who want to get downtown; to commuters completing their trip with the “final mile” after using the WRTA, commuter rail, or other shared service.
“The Chamber took the lead on this effort because of the many tangible benefits of a bike share program – from the economic to the position of the city as a innovation hub, to the health benefits, this program will help Worcester appeal to a broad range of businesses and residents alike,” stated Timothy P. Murray, president and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We worked with stakeholders to ensure that we looked at all of the aspects of the program, and could not be happier with the service, convenience, and ‘it factor’ that ofo provides. We can’t wait until we see their bright yellow bikes on Worcester streets.”
Bike sharing is offered by many metropolitan areas and are gaining momentum in non-traditional biking cities across the U.S. and the globe. Benefits of bike sharing include: increased physical activity, reach to areas not served by public transportation, eliminates barriers created by riding schedules, a positive economic impact on property values through public perception of a greener and more accessible city, a step toward social equality by providing an affordable and convenient transportation option for all residents, a zero emissions transportation option, and a full-time maintenance team to manage, inspect, and repair bikes.
City Manager of Worcester, Edward M. Augustus, Jr. said: “ We are excited that ofo chose to invest in Worcester… We think this can be a great program not just as alternative transportation, but a way to keep active and enjoy our city.”