September 1, 2017

Bike-sharing program coming to Worcester

Flickr/Sino-German Urbanisation Partnership
ofo's yellow bikes will be coming to Worcester on Sept. 14.

Leave the car keys at home. Forget Uber. Strap on some cycling shoes and a helmet instead.

The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce on Friday announced it helped to bring a bike sharing company ofo to Worcester starting Sept. 14. The company is bringing 400 bikes to the city.

The city becomes one of three to benefit from the Chinese company's expansion. It's now the largest and fastest growing bike sharing platform with more than 20 million users in 150 cities and 200 campuses around the world, the chamber said.

The chamber, Worcester Regional Transit Authority, Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Council, Higher Education Consortium of Central Massachusetts and city offices worked together to bring the service to the city.

Unlike other similar programs, ofo doesn't require docks or even a bike rack.

Instead, bikes are located using GPS on a mobile app. They're equipped with a smart lock on the rear wheel that is unlocked when a user scans the QR code on the bike using a smartphone. When finished, the user parks the bike in a legal space and locks the bike for the next rider.

The company re-balances bikes daily to ensure that they are available in high-use areas, maintained and parked appropriately.

Riders pay $1 per hour, and college students pay only $0.50 per hour.

"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," chamber President and CEO Timothy Murray said in the press release.

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