Dockless Ofo bikes are being scaled back across Southwark after a spate of anti-social behaviour and bike thefts, the News can exclusively reveal.
As the News reported last month, so-called Ofo bike gangs have been targeting cyclists on the Surrey Canal Path, Burgess Park, and in busy streets around Peckham and East Dulwich.
Commuters say youths riding the distinctive canary-yellow bikes have snatched their phones and used ‘pincer-like’ movements to aggressively break in front of other cyclists in an attempt to force them off the road and steal their wheels.
There have also been complaints that dumped and broken bikes – which can be hacked so riders avoid card-payment for hiring them – are littering pavements, parks and even canals across London.
On Monday, a spokesperson for Southwark Council confirmed that the company was scaling back to the areas it first launched in which have seen less anti-social behaviour: London Bridge, Borough and Bankside, and Rotherhithe.
The council continues to work with London Councils and TfL to create a code of conduct for cycling operators like Ofo, and are campaigning for a new bylaw which would mean companies like Ofo would need to apply for a licence to operate in London boroughs.
There are currently no laws in place to stop dockless bike operators from setting up in the UK. They also do not need to apply for permission from the local authority before moving into an area.
However, Southwark Council and Ofo did draw up and an agreement before they were launched in borough.
Detective Inspector Luke Williams, told the News: “Southwark police are dealing with some allegations of robbery involving Ofo bicycles, but there is no evidence this mode of transport is being used any more than other methods.
“Southwark have a dedicated robbery team who focus on reducing robbery offending and putting those who do commit such offences before the courts.
“Since this team’s inception in January 2018 personal robbery has reduced by 28.9%.”
A spokesperson for Ofo said: “We are focusing on the north of the borough during the winter period where we see highest use and the least amount of misuse.”