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New rules crack down on Ofo bike clutter

Ofo+bikes+must+now+be+parked+in+the+%22furniture+zone%22+or+on+bike+racks+to+avoid+penalties.
Ofo bikes must now be parked in the

Ofo bikes must now be parked in the "furniture zone" or on bike racks to avoid penalties.

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Ofo bikes must now be parked in the "furniture zone" or on bike racks to avoid penalties.

by Ronald Penh, Contributor

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Nearly five months after San Diego State launched a pilot program with the bike-sharing program Ofo, issues regarding the parking of the bikes have led the university to take up a new enforcement method.

Concerns regarding people parking their bikes inappropriately pushed the company to make some changes in their user policy around campus.

“Repeatedly not adhering to parking rules may result in the suspension of your Ofo bike sharing use privileges,” said Associated Students Sustainability Commissioner Cassie Weinberg in a campus-wide email.

The new policy includes a point system in which users will be deducted points for not parking in the designated parking areas. The user begins with 100 points and can gain one point for parking in the correct area. However, users will lose 20 points for not parking in the correct area and will be suspended from using the bikes upon reaching 0 points, according to Weinberg’s email.

The email said designated parking areas include bike racks and “furniture zones,” meaning the area on the sidewalk outside of where pedestrians walk, near the benches and trash cans. Ofo also requests users do not park their bikes on the sidewalks as it impedes pedestrian traffic and access for people with disabilities.

Electrical engineering senior Thomas Barbarito said he felt optimistic toward the new policy.

I like it (and) I think it’s a good idea,” Barbarito said. “But, it’s just tough to execute. I see the benefits of it but also the bikes cluttered all over campus is a problem.”

When informed of Ofo’s new policy, Barbarito said he thinks it’s a step in the right direction. He added he thinks it is users’ fault that the bikes are parked in the inappropriate areas, not the company.

Urban Studies senior Tai Disla describes the new policy as a double-edged sword.

“Being able to park wherever you want was the main convenience of having an Ofo, but now that the policy doesn’t allow that, I don’t see the point of it anymore,” Disla said.

Disla later said there are benefits to the newly designated parking areas and mentioned that it is not as cluttered anymore.

“I don’t see them that much anymore,” Disla said. “The monthly subscription is convenient because it’s more affordable. But without the convenience of being able to hop off wherever I want, I’d rather use my skateboard or get my own bike.”

The Ofo program on campus was initiated by the Associated Students of SDSU in partnership with the University Parking and Transportation Services. Users pay a small hourly fee to temporarily borrow bikes through the Ofo app that are available throughout the campus and other parts of San Diego.

The program has proven to be popular with SDSU students, gaining almost 5,000 users and over 40,000 rides from the time it launched in early April 2018 to the end of the spring semester.

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