When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark,when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without a thought on anything but the ride you are taking! ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The sound of bells ringing away accompanied by the sight of students riding bright yellow cycles has recently engulfed the campus. Mr.Karthik and his ‘yellow army’ crew of fifteen have ushered in a new era at PSG Tech.
One wouldn’t care to spend a fleeting moment in thought seeing a bright yellow bicycle lying unguarded but might think twice if he saw hundred of them. With ‘ofo’ rolling out its services at our campus, this is no longer an uncommon experience!
OFO (named so because the letters, when together, resemble a bicycle) is often called the ‘Uber for bikes’ (which is quite an ironical metaphor, as one of ofo’s investors include Uber’s chinese rival Didi Chuxing). “We are the first non-docking, bike-sharing platform in the world!”, said Dai Wei, one of the founders, to a popular news platform.
For a company that promotes cycling (and thus a healthy living), ofo had a rather unusual beginning- over fried chicken at KFC! The idea for ofo was born during a quick meal at Peking University. Dai (who eventually dropped out) and his classmates spent the next few months pondering over the feasibility of different business models and going on cycling tours and finally settled on ‘bike-sharing’, but with a twist! The venture grew tremendously over the years and has recently raised over 450 billion USD.
The displeasure of Indians due to surging fuel rates and the increasing difficulties in urban mobility are crucial to the success of many car sharing (and renting) platforms such as Ola and Zoomcar-PEDL in many cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Delhi.
Coimbatore has always been a potential hub for investors. ofo has proven it yet again, as Coimbatore leads any other city in the number of rides taken, currently numbering three million.
Well, is PSG the first to experience ofo at Coimbatore? The answer is no, as a couple of other institutions like Bharathiar University and Kumaraguru College of Technology had it first.
To hire a bike, all that you need to do is download the ofo app on your smartphone, that helps you find the nearest bikes. You then have to submit the bike’s number after which the app sends you a three-digit code to open the bike’s lock and there, you start your ride. To return your bike, you have to find the nearest dock to park, end your ride in the app and scramble the lock.
This service is completely free for the next three months as an initial promotional offer.
When inquired about the tariff for rides after the promotional period, Mr.Manoj Kumar (a member of the ofo ground team) said, “We have not yet decided the tariff for Coimbatore riders. However, the rates can be expected to be similar to the ofo tariffs at Bangalore (Re 1 for half an hour)”.
“Are ofo cycles necessary? My campus isn’t sufficiently large to have an extensive ride. Do I really need a bicycle?”, is probably what is trotting in the minds of many and the only answer to the question is “Wait!”, because ofo is about to have a city launch at R.S Puram, Racecourse, and so on. “ofo cycles will soon allow cycles to be taken outside the campus. Once that happens, the constraint of renting a cycle in students’ minds will be satisfied”, says Mr.Manoj
There is one question which we must answer ourselves- Are we courteous to this facility given to us? The answer is hardly a yes, and some instances are standing examples of our discussion.
“Grab a bike anywhere, dock it anywhere” is the motto of ofo and our students seem to have taken it quite literally.
“Every day we come across 3-5% of running cycles being damaged by riders, which proves to be a burden for the ground team!”, says Mr.Manoj Kumar. “Being responsible with this facility helps us ensure the quality of the service for the next rider, who can be yourself”, he adds.
ofo should not be looked down upon as a mere business venture providing fleeting service. It has resuscitated the cycling habit in our lives and provided the key to a healthier life. Calling it ‘the advent of the yellow army’ might be an understatement.