The City of College Station on Friday reinstated the permit required for ofo — the Beijing-based dockless bike share company — to operate outside the Texas A&M University campus.
As long as the company continues to meet city requirements, ofo’s permit to operate in College Station remains valid through Aug. 23, 2019 — one year from its original issue date.
Texas A&M has an exclusive contract with ofo to operate the bicycles on its campus, but a city ordinance governs how dockless bike-share businesses operate beyond campus boundaries. A&M Transportation Services has indicated it will transition its dockless bike-share system to a new vendor after the fall semester.
ofo’s permit was revoked Oct. 12 due to multiple violations of College Station’s ordinance governing dockless bike-share programs. Among the violations was a lapse in automobile liability insurance coverage, which prevented ofo’s paid drivers from legally operating vehicles used to gather and relocate the yellow bikes.
In addition to its automobile liability insurance coverage reestablished, ofo also paid $5,785 in outstanding citations and replenished its $5,000 escrow account with the city.
– Public Communications Office
By Aubrey Nettles, Special Projects Coordinator
If you spend much time in College Station these days – especially near the Texas A&M campus – you’ve probably seen a bunch of yellow bikes.
Last spring, Texas A&M partnered with Ofo Bike Share Systems to offer the yellow bikes as an alternative mode of travel on and around campus. Naturally, it didn’t take long for users to venture beyond campus to city streets and neighborhoods.
As the popularity of the dockless bike share program grew, it became clear users needed appropriate guidance on responsible off-campus bike use. Riders are supposed the park the bikes in racks within a geo-fenced area, which includes the campus and a small radius beyond campus.
Unfortunately, the bikes have turned up in a multitude of unintended locations such as grassy areas, sidewalks, roadways – even treetops. Many of the complaints focus on the aesthetic impact of yellow bikes left around town, but they’ve also caused safety concerns.
College Station’s ordinance requires that the program operators must remove bikes reported to be parked incorrectly or left outside the geo-fenced area within two hours from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. or within 12 hours at other times. If they don’t, the company is charged a $125 relocation fee or issued a citation. City code enforcement officers will help enforce the ordinance.
Users can also lose their bike privileges for misuse.
Where to park your yellow bike
Users must park dockless bikes in an upright position in the geo-fence zone that encompasses the area in and around campus.
Dockless Bike Geo-Fence
The bikes should never be parked where they can create a hazard or otherwise impede vehicles or pedestrians.
How to report misplaced bikes
- Report the issue using the subject line “Dockless Bike Share” on the city’s SeeClickFix code enforcement app. Make sure the location is as accurate as possible.
- Call Code Enforcement at 979-764-6363. They will send a message to Ofo and the area’s code enforcement officer.
- Send an email to email@example.com.
You can find additional reporting information affixed to the bikes.
As always, bicyclists are encouraged to wear a helmet, obey traffic laws, and yield to pedestrians.
Enjoy your ride!
Aubrey Nettles is in her fourth year as special projects coordinator in the City Manager’s Office. She previously served as executive assistant to the Fort Bend County Commission and was a management analyst for Harris County. A native of Smithville, Aubrey earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Houston in 2012 and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Texas A&M in 2010.
Photo Credit: OFO Uh-ohs of College Station Facebook Page
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