Greens call for council report into yellow bikes

Coun Douglas Johnson (photo courtesy of Jamie Huddlestone, Sheffield Green Party)
Coun Douglas Johnson (photo courtesy of Jamie Huddlestone, Sheffield Green Party)
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Sheffield Green Party has called for the council to investigate why Ofo is withdrawing its yellow bikes from the city.

Ofo, which operate Sheffield's fleet of over 1,000 yellow 'scan and go' hireable bikes, announced last week that they would cease operations in the city in the coming weeks.

Ofo said they are leaving Sheffield to concentrate on other key UK markets, and that they have been pleased with the amount of interest the scheme had generated since it launched in January.

They denied vandalism was behind the decision to leave the city - but just last month the company revealed they were bringing in the police, ex-armed forces and a 24/7 'rapid response' team to combat levels of vandalism 'far above' other cities.

Now Sheffield Greens say as the “full details are unclear”, council officers should investigate.

Coun Douglas Johnson said: “It’s very sad and disappointing to see the yellow Ofo bikes being moved from the city to London. How bad does that make us look in Sheffield?

“And how much does that set back our hopes for more cycling in the city? We need a city with better health and wellbeing, less air pollution and less congestion. We need more cycling options so people can choose to leave their cars at home.

“Ofo got no money from the council so the decision to abandon Sheffield is purely a commercial one. The full details are unclear.

“Council transport officers should do a report looking at what has happened. What made it worse in Sheffield than in London, Cambridge, Oxford and Norwich and 250 other cities across the world? Is it theft and criminal damage? Is it hills? Is it the lack of safe and clearly marked cycle lanes? Was the scheme too small? Or too big?”

Coun Johnson says he was a complete novice when he learnt to ride an Ofo bike. “The council needs to know why this company has failed, so it can look for a replacement scheme. This could be a community-based non-for-profit enterprise, creating more jobs in bike repair and support staff.

“One thing is certain, serious steps are needed now to get people onto safer and cleaner means of travel.”

Sheffield Lib Dems said they were sad to see the bikes go and blamed the vandalism. Leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed said: “The ongoing vandalism of the bikes is likely a key factor to their decision.

“Sheffield Council needs to be proactive here. They should talk to Ofo, other bike hire schemes and of course the police to see what we can learn from this.”

Labour says it will look at other dockless bike schemes to replace Ofo.