UCSD Forgets Ofo; Pilots Orange Bike-Share Program with Spin

Connor Gorry / The Triton

UC San Diego announced a new campus bike-share program last Friday in partnership with San Francisco-based bikeshare company Spin.  

The campus has placed 50 stationless bikes for a trial run around the campus, which will be followed by an additional 250 bicycles in mid-January as part of the pilot kickoff. But instead of a familiar yellow bike, they’re orange.

“We require students to return the bikes to campus by the end of the day. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned, which is why we have an amazing ground operations team that will locate the bikes using the GPS system and return it to campus,” said Cameron Mullen, Spin’s Campus Lead. “We also have staff on campus—looking to hire students as well—who may respond quickly to bikes parked irresponsibly.”

In February, representatives from Ofo placed hundreds of unauthorized yellow bikes around the campus, which students were able to ride free of charge. Campus officials removed the bikes in April, citing that they obstructed areas of campus and were parked without permission.

“Ofo provides a non-docking bike-sharing service for everyone, and we have a great vision for a better UCSD commute solution in the near future,” a company representative wrote in a statement released on Facebook. “That being said, under compromise we made with school administration, Ofo has to say goodbye from UCSD for now.”

Spin, a North American company, has been playing out a similar battle for dominance in Seattle. Spin was the first company to launch in the city in July, followed by Ofo in August. In November, the company added several high profile names to its advisory board, including former presidential candidate and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, former Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation Gabe Klein, and UC Berkeley urban innovation lecturer Molly Turner. 

Spin has already launched on college campuses like Rochester Institute of Technology in New York and Furman University in South Carolina, but this will be their first launch in California.

“Spin has a record of working closely with local officials to develop dockless bikesharing permits which allow these companies to enter various markets,” said Mullen. “We also don’t share private data with any foreign or local government unless required by courts,” adding that Spin bikes are the only bikes that utilize bluetooth technology to unlock bikes when cell service isn’t working.  

From now through December 17, all registered campus users will get free rides on the bikes as long as they are under 30 minutes, after which Spin will provide only five free rides to all new registered campus users. Students will receive the following discounts from Spin: $0.50 per ride up to 30 minutes; $14 per month for unlimited rides up to 30 minutes per ride; and $49 per year for unlimited rides up to 30 minutes per ride.

In order to access the bikes, students will need to download the Spin app on either the Apple Store or Google Play, register an account, and then scan the bike’s respective QR code.

If you have feedback for improving campus bikesharing, you can contact Transportation Services at iRide@ucsd.edu.

Gabriel Schneider is the News Editor at The Triton.