News & Politics

Ofo Will Not Scrap Its Working DC Bikes

They'll avoid the fate of the junked bright-yellow bikes in a viral photo.

Remember this photo of hundreds of yellow Ofo bikes in a pile at a recycling center in Dallas?

The District Department of Transportation is hoping to avoid a similar outcome—and minimize the number of dockless bikes abandoned in weird, sad places—as Ofo and fellow China-based bike-sharing competitor Mobike pull out of the DC market.

“Dockless companies that cease operations in the District are expected to remove their vehicles from public space promptly, and we’ve made that expectation known to the companies that have ceased operations,” DDOT director Jeff Marootian tells Washingtonian.

Ofo sparked social media criticism after Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings highlighted the photo of hundreds of bikes in a tweet and NPR reported that the bikes were sold to a recycling center.

Ofo tells Washingtonian that it plans to donate bikes in good working condition to local nonprofits and will recycle bikes only when they are beyond repair or unusable.

In the DC area, Ofo says it’s working with Vélocity Bike Cooperative in Alexandria and Reston Bike Club.

“We’re actively working across a number of small organizations to take some bikes here and there,” an Ofo spokesperson says. “We’re still open to and exploring other groups who are interested in receiving the bikes.”

Christian Myers, Vélocity’s co-founder and shop manager, says he is expecting around 250 bikes from Ofo and is hoping to sell them for $100 each. They are “not horrible bikes,” he says, but his shop doesn’t have a lot of space.

Ofo also plans to move its best bikes to other US markets.

Mobike, meanwhile, plans to continue collecting the remaining orange-and-silver bikes it has in the DC area. Both companies have struggled with theft and vandalism during their ten months in the District.

“As many of our other markets are operating strongly, we intend to use these bikes to supplement those fleets,” Mobike director of operations James Liao says. “The number of bikes remain to be collected changes daily, but there are not many left to gather.”

For the time being, Mobike hopes to reuse its bikes instead of sending them to a recycling plant.

“There are still many people who can make good use of them,” Liao says. “I can say that less than 50 bikes remain on DC streets, which we are working on collecting as we speak.”