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Bike share organization expels Ofo because of Florida lobbying

Published March 23, 2018
UPDATED: Ofo says it voluntarily withdrew from NABSA.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (BRAIN) — The North American Bikeshare Association has expelled Ofo US Limited from its membership. The company is the U.S. operation of China's Ofo, one of the world's largest dockless bike share companies. In the U.S., Ofo operates dockless systems in several cities, including Miami and San Francisco.

The organization said Ofo failed to comply with its code of conduct, specifically by lobbying for passage of Florida legislation that the NABSA opposed. The legislation, which was defeated, would have given the state, rather than local communities, control over bike share programs. 

"As the leading authority for the bikeshare industry, our Code of Conduct encompasses the values that are most important for the success of systems across the U.S.," said NABSA's executive director, Samantha Herr. "All members are expected to adhere to these guidelines to keep bikeshare systems safe, equitable, reliable and supportive of the existing transportation landscape."

In a statement to BRAIN, Ofo said it voluntarily withdrew from the organization.

"Ofo has decided to voluntarily withdraw its NABSA membership. Our commitment to bike share that is more inclusive, affordable and accessible to all is incompatible with NABSA’s current agenda. We cannot continue to support an organization that does not embrace these values, but rather seeks to insulate incumbent bike share systems from competition."

David London, the head of government relations for ofo, told BRAIN, "We are an individual company that is allowed to have their own point of view." London said the Florida legislation would have prevented communities from making exclusive bike share contracts with providers. He said Ofo's focus is on providing dockless share bikes to neighborhoods that are underserved by most docked share programs. 

According to NABSA, a member complained to the organization in January regarding Ofo's lobbying efforts in Florida. NABSA said Ofo's lobbying activity was in violation of its code of conduct "because the bill pre-empted local control over bikeshare implementation, undercut years of hard work, investment and success of current bikeshare programs in Florida, as well as could have subjected the public to unnecessary safety hazards."

After an investigation and review by NABSA's board of directors, Ofo was sent a letter of notification including disciplinary action measures in February. NABSA said the company has not complied with the code of conduct.

"NABSA does not tolerate any member whose actions have the potential to harm other bikeshare operators or remove local control," said Herr. "It's unfortunate that Ofo chose not to comply with our guidelines, however we will continue to support the efforts of all members who uphold the ideals of the Code of Conduct."

The organization said Ofo could re-apply for membership after a year, if certain conditions are met.

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