Special Report: Bike-sharing leader speaks out about San Diego’s ‘bike invasion’

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — It’s hard to believe it’s only been three months since the bike-sharing invasion arrived on American shores. Seemingly overnight, the streets and sidewalks were littered with fruit-colored bikes all over San Diego.

“We are the largest bike sharing company in the world,” said OFO General Manager Paul Vidal, former Navy fighter pilot.

The concept and the bikes were born in China.

“It was started by a guy who wanted to help school kids get around,” Vidal said.

From there, it exploded all over the world.

“We now have millions of bikes in 23 countries,” Vidal said.

But not everyone is excited. All over town, bikes are blocking sidewalks, handicapped ramps and other places where they should not be.

“It’s a learning curve. Common sense would tell you not to block a sidewalk, but some people just don’t think about it,” Vidal said.

Over the past two months, bikes have been cut in half, spray painted and tossed over cliffs. These are not disposable bikes, these are really good bikes and they are not $20, as some people have claimed.

While they would not reveal the actual cost, it’s more like $200.

“We take care of these bikes, we have the best bike mechanics and we constantly pick them up and repair them,” Vidal said.

By the way, destroying one of these bikes is a crime.

As for how this all happened, the city and its leaders played a huge part. Under the umbrella of “climate action plan” and “greenhouse gases,” city leaders allowed the invasion of thousands of bikes, almost overnight.

“The mayor and city leaders are excited about this. We are a private solution to a public problem, air pollution,” Vidal said.

While the air may be a little cleaner, the landscape is certainly not. With thousands of shiny new bikes all over the streets and sidewalks, some are calling this “litter on the landscape.”

In China, thousands of these bikes have been trashed and dumped, creating mountains of metal. The people at OFO claim this will not happen here.

“We have a different set of values than China. This will never happen in America. These bikes are too valuable to be disposable,” Vidal said.

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