Chinese bike share firm rolls out Prague service

Chinese bike-sharing company Ofo will start operating in Prague this year. Around one thousand bikes should be available for rent in the wider city centre as of spring 2018. The company also plans to expand its activities in Central and Eastern Europe.

Photo: Czech TelevisionPhoto: Czech Television The company launched a test operation of its services in the district of Prague 7 in mid-October last year, with 300 yellow bikes available free of charge until the end of December.

“Within that short period of time, people took more than 25,000 rides, proving that they are really interested in the service. At the end of February, after the winter break, we want to put our service in operation,” Kacper Winiarczyk, Ofo’s general manager of Central and Eastern Europe told the daily Hospodářské noviny.

The company plans to install over one thousand bikes in the city through 2018. At the moment, it is identifying suitable localities for bike stands.

According to Mr Winiarczyk, the bikes will not be available in the city’s hilly district and on the outskirts. They will also avoid the historical centre, where cyclists are often banned due to the high number of tourists.

Ofo will charge around 20 crowns an hour for their bikes, which is less than their Czech rival Rekola, which offers their pink bikes for around 24 crowns an hour.

Both Ofo and Rekola require the customers to download a mobile app to be able to use their bikes. The application will tell them where the nearest bikes are available and also enable the customer to pay for the service. Both Rekola and Ofo bikes can be left anywhere in the city.

The Ofo bike is equipped with a special lock that closes after the customer signs out from the service. The bike is also equipped with GPS navigation, which can track it in case it is stolen. The Chinese start-up has collected nearly 1.3 billion US dollars since its launch four years ago and operates in 200 cities all over the world.

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