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By Ken Storey
Beijing-based ofo bikeshare announced plans to bring its dockless bikes to Orlando. Founded in 2014, the Alibaba-backed bikeshare program is valued at over $3 billion and is already in over a dozen U.S. cities including Dallas, where it placed 10,000 bikes leading up to the end of last year. Globally, ofo claims over 200 million users and owns over 10 million bicycles.
Exact dates on ofo’s local rollout haven’t been announced.
The company has plans to be in over 100 U.S. cities by the end of this year. A partnership with United Nations Development Programme helps ofo promote its message of sustainability and good will.
With dockless bike shares, users can find and drop off the bikes nearly anywhere. Dockless bike shares are different from how Juice Bikes, a bike share operation currently in Orlando, works. They have specific racks users are expected to return the bikes to.
ofo’s current price system, which has members sign up via an app and then pay as little as $1 per hour, would be much lower than Juice’s price structure that ranges from $8 per hour for visitors to a $59 annual plan for students. Juice charges $2 if you don’t return the bike to a Juice station and charges $20 if you drop off the bike outside of the Juice bike range, which stretches from Michigan Avenue on the south to just west of Rio Grande and north to include all on Winter Park and downtown Maitland with the eastern boarder stretching to Goldenrod Road.
In other cities, ofo has targeted areas popular with college students and would likely do the same in Orlando around UCF, an area the Juice Bikes don’t currently cover. The I-Drive tourist district is another area that ofo would likely target that is outside of Juice’s territory.