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Ofo bike share set to launch in Seattle

With their permit approved, the company will be the third to participate in a city pilot


A third dockless bike-share company is just about ready to roll out in Seattle: Ofo. , Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) staff confirm that their permit to operate in the city of Seattle has been approved.

After we first learned Ofo had applied for their permit earlier this week, a spokesperson let us know they were “in the final stages” of preparing to launch. They did not immediately return a request for comment on the approval, but we’re expecting their yellow bikes to join Limebike’s green bikes and Spin’s orange bikes soon.

The Beijing-based company’s bikes are already popular in China, where they’re launched in several cities. They’ve spent much of this year on a global expansion, armed with a $700 million funding round, including new ventures in Bangkok, Vienna, and Cambridge. They’re launching in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan this fall.

In the United States, bikes have started rolling into Silicon Valley.

Ofo ran into some trouble at the University of California San Diego, which ended in an order to remove all bikes—but in that case, they’d been operating without close contact with officials.

In this case, they’ve been working with the city to participate in a pilot program that guides private bike-share program in safe, courteous operation throughout the city.

To recap: SDOT debuted their new rules for bike shares in late June. In order to operate in the city, bike shares must have a minimum fleet size of 500—and as of this moment in the pilot, their fleet size can expand to 1,000. (Eventually, that’ll be 2,000, then unlimited.)

SDOT’s rules set strict rules for where bikes can and cannot be parked, and sets benchmarks for getting broken bikes off the street. Both those measures counter fears that Seattle will have huge broken bike pile-ups shared widely during dockless bike share discussion.

As for specs: While the first generation of relatively-lightweight, bright yellow bikes had no GPS and a simple combination lock, their newer bikes are GPS-enabled and have smart locks. We’ll update if we hear about any changes or updates.

According to the South China Morning Post, Ofo’s United States pricing is $1 per hour.

We’ll update when we hear back from Ofo.

This article has been updated to reflect specs of the most recent generation of bikes.