Yellow bikes have been popping up over campus and around Norwich over the last few weeks. ofo was founded in 2014 but after launching in London, Oxford, and Cambridge, the world’s first “non-docking” bike-sharing platform has made its way to Norfolk. I decided to take advantage of them being completely free for their first two weeks before they become just 50p for every ride under 30 minutes.

Affordable?

A First Bus pass for three semesters costs £205 and is valid from the 18 September 2017 until the 24 June 2018 giving you 280 days of travel at about 70p a day for as many journeys as you like across Norwich. When you compare this to ofo, with a set rate of 50p for 30 minutes, it hardly seems worth it when a student bus pass is so much more convenient and flexible than finding an ofo bike every time you want to travel somewhere.

Accessible?

The ofo app shows available bikes near you so you don’t just have to try your luck coming across one in walking distance. They’re not like ‘Boris Bikes’ in London where there will more than likely be a few bikes in the docking stations. I understand that the whole concept of ofo is how they are “non-docking” but this does not necessarily make them more functional.

The test ride:

From campus, the app showed two available bikes in walking distance of the Square. The one that I found first was unable to be used as when I scanned the QR code. `the app said a fault was reported. As much as it’s good that you can report these bikes if there are problems, it doesn’t tell you this until you have found said bike.

With there being scarce bikes anyway, this does limit is the functionality, because I doubt that they have a team of people ready to make their way to fix the bikes straightaway.

The actual bike ride was enjoyable, but as a Norfolk girl, I’m not used to hills, the UEA campus and surrounding area seems to be home to all the hills in the county.

So I did struggle a little and did find the bike relatively uncomfortable in that aspect. Or it could just be that I am incredibly unfit.

What I did enjoy was how you can just leave the bike anywhere you wish, and you just have to lock up the wheel again by using the QR scanner.

I used this to my full advantage and left it at the far end of the Colney Lane playing fields just because I could. It really saves all the hassle of having to take the bike back to a docking station.

Ofo presents itself as an innovative new method of transport but in reality it’s just an idea that people will use for fun for a few weeks before they are forgotten about.

I doubt that students are going to stop using the bus and rely on ofo bikes. I certainly would not.