Yellow OFO Bikes to be Removed from Campus by Friday

Yellow OFO Bikes in front of Geisel Library. Photo courtesy of DP Li.

All yellow OFO bikes will be wheeled off campus by the end of the day tomorrow. UCSD Transportation Services ordered OFO to remove all bikes immediately on Tuesday, April 18. The company has responded by promising to remove all bikes by the end of Friday.

OFO, a company based in China, launched an experimental bike-sharing program at UCSD in February 2017. In order to ride, users obtain a code through the OFO mobile app unique to each bike. After placing 50 bikes on campus in February, the company dropped off 250 more last Wednesday. They’ve seen over 1000 uses per day since Apr. 12 and students have been able to ride free of charge.

Despite the company’s ubiquitous presence on campus, UCSD Transportation Services claims it never formally approved an agreement with OFO. The bikes appeared on campus without the University’s approval, Marketing and Communications Director Laura Margoni said in an email to The Triton.

In addition to lacking a formal agreement, Transportation Services also cited that it has received several complaints of parked bikes blocking access ramps, hand rails, and sidewalks. Margoni added that OFO also fails to meet certain insurance policy requirements set by the University of California for bike share programs.

“The campus has been diligently researching bike sharing programs with agencies such as the San Diego Association of Governments as well as at other colleges and our sister UC campuses,” Margoni said. “We hope to issue a request for information [or] proposals for a bike-sharing program later this year.”

The Triton Bikes bike sharing program, the formal program operated by the campus, allows students to check out recycled bikes free of charge. However, unlike using OFO’s mobile app, students must visit the Gilman Parking office, complete a waiver, and show a valid form of I.D. to check out a bike. The bikes must also be returned within 48 hours.

First year UCSD student DP Li has been acting as OFO’s partner in bringing the bike sharing service to campus. Li said that he spoke with a transportation services representative in October 2016 to propose the idea.

After receiving the notice to remove the bikes, Li published an online survey and petition on Apr. 18. At the time of publishing, there were over 1400 responses. 99% of survey respondents reported they have noticed the yellow bikes, with 53% selecting that they’ve used the service.

Seeking a long term solution, Li plans to work with Vice Chancellor Gary Matthews and the Office of Transportation to make the bike program official and permanent. Li would like to initiate a fee referendum for the university to select OFO as its bike sharing supplier and increase student activity fees to pay for the program. These fees would go toward maintenance of the bikes and the company itself.

“A lot of people I know don’t own a bike because they don’t use it enough or it’s too much of a hassle to get it to and from campus. This allows them some of the perks of a bike without the hassle and maintenance,” UCSD student Griffin Stamp said. “I’m disappointed that [OFO is] being discontinued. They provided a service that I used and I believe was a net positive for the community.”

Shine Cho is the News Editor for The Triton. She can be reached at news@triton.news.

  • Jiaying He

    “First year UCSD student DP Li has been acting as OFO’s partner in bringing the bike sharing service to campus. ”
    wow, I’m impressed, a freshman brought the OFO to campus!

  • DP Li

    It is our fault and mistake. We let school and students down. But we
    learn and gonna go back! We will have better infrastructure, liability,
    bike and be official(important). We want to gather momentum from a lot
    of sides including school administration and student organizations. We
    gonna think together, work together and conquer all the difficulties.
    Our goal is to make innovation that can truly benefit for the school and
    student body. The most important thing is to make bike share that can
    facilitate students going around campus. Process is complex and result
    is simple. Make something new is never easy, but we gonna make it!

    • Ron Harper Jr

      Way to go DP Li. Keep making things change for the better.

  • DP Li

    It is our fault and mistake. We let school and students down. But we
    learn and gonna go back! We will have better infrastructure, liability,
    bike and be official(important). We want to gather momentum from a lot
    of sides including school administration and student organizations. We
    gonna think together, work together and conquer all the difficulties.
    Our goal is to make innovation that can truly benefit for the school and
    student body. The most important thing is to make bike share that can
    facilitate students going around campus. Process is complex and result
    is simple. Make something new is never easy, but we gonna make it!

  • Kari Blue

    This is a great idea. We just noticed the bikes last week and looked them up today only to find this… we are sorry to see they are gone already. It’s unfortunate that the university wouldn’t handle this matter in a manner more sensitive to its community.

  • warriorrabbit

    Ah, so a Chinese company tries to force its way in and then hopes that the university will look the other way and give it the contract despite the transgression. That wouldn’t happen in a normal situation, and with the new “buy American” push, plus Ofo’s sin of hubris, it will be highly unlikely. I think Ofo just shot themselves in the foot. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, given Ofo’s behavior. Also, it’s highly suspicious that its two supporters here have no commenting history.

  • Ron Harper Jr

    I just used one of the bikes I found near the beach. I thinks it’s a great idea. Once the government is in charge quality will drop and pricing will increase significantly. Biking reduces traffic, emissions and obesity. Like Uber this could really take off if the government loved efficiency, green transportation and freedom.