Another Dockless Bike-Sharing Company Is Giving Up On London

By Holly Brockwell on at

Chinese bike-sharing company Ofo has announced it'll be pulling out of London, having already left Sheffield, Oxford and Norwich because people can't be trusted with untethered bicycles.

We've wondered aloud many times why people keep launching new dockless bike companies in the UK when it's been proven time and again they don't work here. In fact, they don't seem to work well anywhere -- even in Ofo's homeland of China, there are literal mountains of discarded yellow cycles.

On these shores, problems with the leave-it-anywhere bikes have unsurprisingly included vandalism, theft, and just plain chucking them in the Thames.

According to The Guardian, Ofo is now "teetering on the brink of bankruptcy" despite being backed by the ginormous Alibaba. It's apparently shuttered its international arm, which includes the UK, and told its 50 international employees they can either take a 50% pay cut and move to the Chinese branch, or leave. The firm had 60 employees in the UK alone at one stage, but those have dwindled to just a few clingers-on. The UK operation never turned a profit.

Since the company got into trouble, it has apparently stopped paying its mobile bills, which led to the bikes' 3G connection being cut off. They could still be unlocked manually with a code, but it doesn't sound like many people were using them anyway.

Goodness knows what will (or already has) happened to the 6,000 bright yellow bikes Ofo foisted on this country, with 3,000 of them in the capital, but we're guessing more than a few ruffians are speeding around town on a resprayed freebie.

Please, let this be the end of dockless bike sharing in the UK. Our rivers are 50% wheels as it is.

Photo by zhou shuai on Unsplash