Ofo bicycle donation presents new challenge for Yellow Bike Project


AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than 300 yellow dockless bikes are lined and stacked outside The Yellow Bike Project waiting for their future owner.

“I’ve been here for about eight years and this is by far the largest donation I’ve ever seen,” says Yellow Bike volunteer Mike Conti. “You don’t really know what kind of problems you’re going to run into.” 

In order to make their dockless bicycles less prone to theft, Ofo equipped their bikes with non-standard equipment e.g. pentagonal axle nuts. In order to make these bikes serviceable by a new owner and keep them on the road for as long as possible, Yellow Bike needs special tools to remove the old, non-standard hardware.

While Ofo sent The Yellow Bike Project special tools to remove the security features on the dockless bikes, the hardest parking is making sure the bikes are installed with more standard equipment, which can get pricey. 

“One of our volunteers started a fundraiser which seems it’ll be able to pay for all the nuts and bolts that we’ll need at this point.” Over $2,200 of the $2,500 goal has been already been raised thru the Facebook fundraiser.

Conti says installing the bikes with more standard bike features will keep them from becoming a nuisance to maintain for new owners. 

“The bikes we give to people tend to stay with them for a while, so being able to perform basic service is critical,” explains Conti.”We want the people who get the bikes to be able to use them in a longer term scenario. We don’t want people to be beholden to a special set of tools that aren’t available anywhere else.” 

“That’s one of the great things about bikes to us is that they’re empowering,” says Conti.

It’s hard to say when volunteers will start retrofitting the bikes but work should start in the next few weeks.

Several of the Ofo bikes donated to The Yellow Bike Project were given to some of the San Marcos apartment fire victims. 

The Yellow Bike Project is located in east Austin and has been serving the community since 1997. It’s a volunteer-powered non profit to put bicycles on the streets of Austin and Central Texas by operating community bike shops, teaching bike mechanics and maintenance, and acting as a local bike advocacy group. 

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