Recently, the Claremont Colleges welcomed the first wave of rideshare bikes from a Chinese company called Ofo. Yellow in color and equipped with a comfy adjustable seat, three gears, and a distinct bell, the bikes are high quality at a low (free as of now) price. This undetermined trial period will be in place for two weeks. After the trial period, the bikes are available at an affordable and discounted cost of $0.50 per hour. Adding even more convenience, Ofo bikes can also be parked at any bike rack in any campus after the ride is completed.
The bikes have been present across China for just over two years, stemming from a college grad who decided that walking across campus was far too difficult. As a result, he founded Ofo, whose staple product is a rideshare bike secured by an automated lock that can be parked just about anywhere. Affordability and ease-of-use is the main goal of the company, which has struck a trial period deal with Pomona College. Luckily, Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, Scripps, and Harvey Mudd students also share the benefit of riding the bikes for free.
How does it work?
Here is a brief introduction to get immediate access to a bike on campus:
Create an account.
- Download the Ofo rideshare app from the Android or Apple app store.
- Enter any email and register for an account.
- (Optional) Enter credit/debit card information.
To unlock the bike.
- Scan the QR code at the back of the bike. A 4-digit code will be prompted.
- Enter the 4-digit code and the automated lock will open.
- Ride the bike to your intended destination.
To manually end the trip.
- Park the bike at the nearest bike rack (there should be one outside of all academic buildings).
- Slide the lock closed.
Response on campus:
Although the presence of these bikes was unprecedented to the rest of the campuses outside of Pomona, there have been positive responses from students within CMC. Emma David ‘21 appreciates the convenience of the Ofo’s, stating, “These bikes are not only a good way to get to and from places, but also offer another activity to do with friends. The bikes have encouraged me to stay active while saving Uber money.” Furthermore, Anuj Devatha ‘21 emphasizes, “I always wanted a bike, but was afraid of getting it stolen. Now, I can get around quickly without the hassle of forgetting where I left my bike.”
Despite positive reviews from various students, there are some downfalls with every scene. Natalie Gould ’21 is slightly irritated by its sudden bright appearance on campus: “These bikes are quite useful, but I wish that they did not disturb the aesthetic of campus as much. I wish we could have input in design or even color of the bikes.” Maybe allowing for feedback from students on the design of the bike would be beneficial to improving the bike’s physical look.
Ofo bikes have been on campus for just over a week. Only time will tell whether this Pomona experiment will truly succeed. As of now, students can enjoy convenience at a free price and without consequence. These yellow bikes have invaded the campus but have been welcomed. They will only be truly welcomed, however, when they find people…instead of dust on them.