Chinese bike-sharing startup Ofo — the biggest of its kind in the world — is set to scatter hundreds of yellow bikes on Sydney streets from Wednesday evening.
Ofo, which has 10 million bikes in 18 countries, will distribute 200 bikes around the City of Sydney, followed by another 200 in the Waverley Council, and 200 in the Inner West.
The launch comes despite public backlash to the recent influx of bike-sharing initiatives across the country.
Last month bike-sharing companies were in the headlines for the wrong reasons after it was found that users were dumping the bikes in rivers and trees.
The bikes do not need to be returned to a docking station because they are fitted with GPS units so that they can be parked anywhere for the next rider to locate with a mobile app.
Ofo Australia head of strategy, Scott Walker, told the Sydney Morning Herald that “preferred parking” zones in each council area and “geofence” on the bike to alert riders when they try to park outside the area should deter such vandalism from occurring.
He also said Ofo staff will collect the bikes daily and put them back in their selected areas.
As of September, Sydney had about 1,500 bikes from both Singapore company oBike and Australian rival ReddyGo. Melbourne had more than 1250 just from oBike. Both these figures are believed to have ballooned since then.
If any of the schemes are to be successful, Ofo has the experience and the money to do it.
Founded by five Peking University students in 2014, the company has raised over $US1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) in funding and has 10 million bikes in 170 cities, including London where it launched last month. By the end of 2017 it hopes to have 20 million bikes available to the public.
*Additional reporting by Tony Yoo and Sam Shead.