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Bryan City Council to vote on ordinance for bike-share, similar programs

College Station has revoked Ofo's license for second time; Texas A&M switching bike providers

The Eagle

By Caitlin Clark

Published: December 10, 2018

ofo bikes on campus
Ofo bikes are lined up in racks outside the John J. Koldus Building at Texas A&M University on Friday. (photo by Laura McKenzie)

While Texas A&M University continues its plans to move forward with a new bike-share company next semester, the city of Bryan is laying its own foundation to prepare for the potential introduction of alternative transportation programs.

On Friday, the city of College Station revoked Chinese bike-share company Ofo's license to operate -- again -- after it failed to replenish its escrow account. Texas A&M is in the process of collecting and impounding the yellow bikes and had already announced last month that it would be cutting ties with Ofo to switch to a new vendor in January.

VeoRide bikes will begin arriving on campus next week, according to a statement from Texas A&M University Transportation Services, and will be ready for deployment by the start of the spring semester. The bike-share company should have its license to operate in College Station by the end of the month, according to the city, and is expected to have a larger staff presence.

While the university's program with Ofo proved to be popular, there were plenty of bumps along the way, including issues with bikes being parked improperly and a lack of timely response on the company's part. The city of College Station first revoked Ofo's license in mid-October after learning that the company's auto liability insurance coverage had lapsed, which prevented its employees from legally accessing the vans they used to collect and relocate bikes around town.

Texas A&M's exclusive agreement with Ofo prompted the city of College Station to create a bike-share ordinance this summer, which went into effect in mid-August. It gave the city control over the program's geo-fence and set a relocation fee for improperly parked bikes the company didn't move, among other regulations. Code enforcement officers still have the ability to give citations to Ofo, as needed, as its bikes are phased out of the community.

In neighboring Bryan, the City Council today is set to vote on its own ordinance to lay a framework for regulating dockless bikes, scooters and other "small-wheeled vehicles" there.

The "shared active transportation system" ordinance would allow the city manager to approve short-term license agreements for pilot programs. Bird Rides Inc. has already requested to operate its electric scooters in Bryan. The ordinance under consideration today would be expected to evolve as needed.

Meanwhile, as Texas A&M transitions to its new bike-share vendor, Transportation Services recommends users who don't plan on riding Ofo bikes for the remainder of the year deactivate their accounts to avoid potential charges. An online form will be created to help advocate for customers who have trouble being refunded by Ofo.

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