David's lo-pro bike.  "I keep it close to me so it can’t get stolen.”
  • David's lo-pro bike. "I keep it close to me so it can’t get stolen.”
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On September 21, between 12 noon and 2 pm, I noticed over 75 yellow Ofo bikes around town; about half were still being used.

KUSI story about Ofo recycling

“It’s a score,” Joey G. said, “if you find them unlocked, you’re lucky.”

I saw Joey on the corner of Broadway and Park Boulevard; while we spoke, security guards were asking him and his buddy to move along with their belongings — including Joey’s recently found Ofo bike.

Bike in front of Chinese museum with lock removed

“The whole bike is salvageable except for that locking mechanism (mounted on top of the rear wheel),” he said. “It’s a 26-inch and the parts work great with beach cruisers. You can even take this whole seat off and put it on another bike.”

I asked how to remove the parts because there were no obvious bolts or standard-looking screws.

Recovery from Auburn Creek

“Husky makes the tool to remove this,” he said, “it’s a special tool.”

In front of Mission Beach Rentals. “That’s a personal bike, man …."

Last month KUSI News reported, “Ofo bikes being recycled after being abandoned across San Diego.”

The newscast posted photos and video of the bikes in a large dumpster at a recycling center in Logan Heights. “They had like 150-200 Ofo bikes in a big pile,” said Andrew Stannard in the televised interview, “and they were like you can’t buy anything off of them …. they got to scrap them by law.”

As I drove and walked around downtown, most of the Ofos were in lock mode; I pushed the rubber buttons on the lock mechanisms and some still made sounds. I found an unlocked Ofo bike on the corner of Market Street and by the trolley tracks next to Park Boulevard Express.

“Is this yours,” I asked a woman sitting in a truck parked next to the bike. She said “yes, it is."

I found one by the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum on 3rd Avenue and J Street. The unit’s lock mechanism was completely removed and the bike rolled freely; no one was in the vicinity to claim it.

I saw another guy wearing a red cape walking his Ofo along Fourth Avenue; his bike had a straw basket in place of the foregone metal one in front of the handlebars.

“Bro, can I talk to you about your bike?” I asked as I jogged by him. By now he was riding the bike and said “No, no, no.”

On the same street I saw another two individuals with Ofo bikes who brushed me off.

I found a toppled Ofo in front of Lucky D’s Hostel on 8th Avenue. Someone attempted to remove the lock mechanism so it hung freely between the rear wheel — the bike was not rideable.

As I was driving by the southside of Balboa Park by I-5 I saw a handful of yellow bikes.

“I found my bike three months ago over on 6th and Upas,” David said, “the locking mechanism doesn’t work on it.”

I asked to sit down next to him underneath a tree facing 6th Avenue.

“I’m a recycler and I pick up recyclables,” he said, “having the bike makes it a lot easier. I collect about the same amount but it’s just quicker.”

“In a day I can make about $20-$25 with cans, plastic, and a little bit of glass. I can’t pick up glass any more because the cops took my shopping cart. You’re talking about 100 pounds. of glass in them shopping carts.”

I asked why he had the bike lying on its side rather than upright with the kickstand supporting it.

“To keep it low-pro, and I keep it close to me so it can’t get stolen.”

“What else do you like about the bike,” I asked.

“The tires don’t go flat and that’s an advantage,” he said, “the little basket, there’s a horn on the grip, and it’s a girl frame so you don’t crack your balls on it.”

I saw a few more Ofos in Hillcrest, North Park …. and City Heights, where I encountered one by 37th Street that was burned but still rideable because the lock was removed. Then up the street, the El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association had an Ofo bike in their front window display; the lock-mechanism was unlocked and had an artificial flower partially covering it. I logged onto the Ofo app, and the bike in the window was not available to scan and ride.

In the immediate area, there was only one more bike showing on the app, supposedly by the pink Cali Mari mariscos truck on 35th Street and El Cajon Boulevard. “I don’t see it around here.” said the guy manning the food truck.

Steven is a 57-year-old cyclist that cycles from his home in La Mesa to a commercial printing facility in Hillcrest. He used to see hundreds of share bikes on his commute and outside of his office windows.

“The bikes may have maintained some limited success if they were not kicked to the curb by the electric scooters,” Steven said. “I notice a homeless person have one of the Ofo bikes then the next week, they are walking with maybe a shopping cart. The bikes seem to rotate at times and probably get taken from them by other homeless people.”

Steven remembers in July when an Ofo rep dropped off bikes by his office. “A [guy] walked by, picked up an Ofo bike and walked off. He then stopped and banged on the lock a few times until it broke, and rode off. Free bike.”

Linda Pennington from City Heights and her San Diego Canyonlands team, pulled out tons of trash left behind in their canyons — including Ofo bikes.

“Here’s one Ofo bike that I found in Auburn Creek along with a bunch of other metal including the side-by-side refrigerator that someone dumped next to the creek,” she said.

After City Heights, I hopped on the 15 and 8 freeways towards Mission Beach by the roller coaster; there are a lot of Ofos still being used here.

I noticed an Ofo bike with its lock mechanism disengaged but it was locked down with a Kryptonite chain to the bike rack.

“That’s a personal bike, man …. I don’t think they [are connected to the computer system] any more,” Monte said, “they’ve just kinda left them here.”

Monte is the manager of Mission Beach Rentals that’s located feet away from the boardwalk.

“Yah, when Ofo [supposedly] pulled out I feel like we’ve boosted [in business],” he said. “We were pretty excited.”

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Comments

AlexClarke Sept. 26, 2018 @ 7:36 a.m.

This whole dockless bike/scooter thing will end. There is no way that enough money can be made to maintain the business model and attract investors. Dockless bikes/scooters are a great idea that would work if it were not for the people.

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danfogel Sept. 27, 2018 @ 11:34 a.m.

FYI, since July of last year, ofo has raised more than $1.5 billion in funding. Mobike, which launched in San Diego earlier this year, raised over $1 billion in funding before being purchased for $2.7 billion this past spring. So much for not being able to attract investors, i guess.

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Wabbitsd Sept. 27, 2018 @ 1:59 p.m.

"There's a sucker born every minute," a wise man once said.

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danfogel Sept. 27, 2018 @ 4:23 p.m.

Uh, actually no. I was a con man who said that, not a wise man.

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dwbat Sept. 27, 2018 @ 7:20 p.m.

P.T. Barnum is mistakenly credited with originating that phrase. He didn't.

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CaptainObvious Sept. 27, 2018 @ 7:53 a.m.

Are they stealing these bikes, or have they been abandoned by Ofo? Can I fill a truck with them and sell them at the swap meet?

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dwbat Sept. 27, 2018 @ 12:14 p.m.

Where would you find a truckload of them? I don't see any Ofos these days, besides some ridden by homeless people.

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Visduh Sept. 28, 2018 @ 4:16 p.m.

I'd guess that if you went around and picked up a few of those bikes, and also those owned by the other outfits, there would be nothing done about it. It could be argued that they are abandoned property when they are just laying around. Remove the locking devices and the electronics, repaint them, and you have a serviceable bike worth $50 or so.

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Ken Harrison Sept. 28, 2018 @ 8:39 a.m.

I believe these bikes are made in China, sold by Chinese companies, to Chinese invested corporations in the U.S. Follow the money and one may figure out why these companies could care less about their bikes getting stolen or recycled.

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Cassander Oct. 2, 2018 @ 2:44 p.m.

As reported in the new book, AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley and the New World Order, "Data is the new oil, and China is the new Saudi Arabia." It tells why the Chinese could care less about the garbage left strewn here: the bikes (and scooters) were always a loss leader for the data harvested.

They are collating complete profiles of everyone who has ever used one with personally identifiable data—not "anonymized" as at least formally required by tech companies in Western countries. Read the review to get an idea of just what we're up against, https://www.economist.com/books-and-a...">https://www.economist.com/books-and-a...

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dwbat Oct. 3, 2018 @ 10:19 a.m.

From the Urban Dictionary: Wrong slang. It's supposed to be "I couldn't care less" - because I have no interest. "I could care less" means there is some interest.

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danfogel Oct. 3, 2018 @ 10:41 a.m.

FYI, almost 30 yrs ago, a well-known Harvard professor and language writer named Stephen Pinker argued that the way most people say could care less—the way they emphasize the words—implies they are being ironic or sarcastic. When people say I could care less, they usually mean they actually could not care less, or, more precisely, that they don’t care. It seems that some people have not learned how to be a language snob without being a jerk.

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dwbat Oct. 3, 2018 @ 12:33 p.m.

Are you perhaps referring to Steven Pinker? (It's not "Stephen") P.S. You're confusing "language snob" with being a professional editor. Besides magazines, I've edited books in the past.

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dwbat Oct. 3, 2018 @ 12:57 p.m.

By the way, this was the most recent book I edited: "Lady Bitch Whore: A Feminist Guidebook for Female Empowerment" by Sundeep Morrison

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Cassander Oct. 4, 2018 @ 10:05 a.m.

The only thing missing from this gratuitous self-promotion is a link to Amazon to buy the book. By all means feel free to push this in your profile biography; but there's enough of a problem here in the comments section with spam sales pitches without you adding yours to it.

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danfogel Oct. 4, 2018 @ 12:31 p.m.

Along those lines, I've always felt that if you have to tell people how important you are, how smart you are or how much you've accomplished, then you're really not that important, not that smart and haven't really accomplished that much.

Just my opinion.

Opinions vary.

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dwbat Oct. 4, 2018 @ 3:58 p.m.

FYI, I don't get a penny if anyone buys that book. It's just a plug for a friend, and I'm proud of her for what she wrote.

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Cassander Oct. 4, 2018 @ 7:50 p.m.

To quote someone who never needed an editor, "The lady doth protest too much." You were paid for your "work" on this book; and will get paid to do so for others if it is successful. Claiming how "proud" your are of your side gig to excuse a random advertising for your services is fatuous and equivalent to any other "work from home" scam poster.

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danfogel Oct. 3, 2018 @ 3:53 p.m.

A couple of comments. First, my bad on the spelling. But in this case, it was meant as a little bit of trickery. And, as with the difference between could and couldn't care less, you knew what I meant. Nothing if not predictable. Yes, I Could Care Less: How to Be a Language Snob Without Being a Jerk is a book written a few years ago by the late Bill Walsh of the Washington Post. I read it a few years ago. I'm guessing that you didn't edit it, but I could be wrong. Well, no actually, I'm not wrong. Interesting, or perhaps more accurately, ironic, that Walsh was also an editor. And, as far as I am aware, you're not employed as an editor for the Reader. But please, keep on chiming in, as your interjections, though many times non sequitur, are often quite humorous, though I'm not sure the humor is always intended. A final thought. Sometimes the perfect opportunity just falls into ones lap.

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Cassander Oct. 3, 2018 @ 1:36 p.m.

Unfortunately Dan, dwbat has nothing better to do with his dotage than hijack legitimate reader comments on Reader articles for no higher purpose than to direct attention to himself. But heaven forfend you point out that anyone as intelligent as he claims wouldn't be a needy troll on message boards: he will passive-aggressively dispute your future comments (see your posts on grass versus astroturf), and even those you made years back in time, because he thinks getting the last word means he wins.

Either from pity or exhaustion, the real editors here can't seem to put a brake on his stunningly unprofessional and inane behavior, and can't see that his editorial pretensions and wink emoticons are nothing more than a smokescreen for denigrating other contributors.

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danfogel Oct. 3, 2018 @ 4:06 p.m.

Cassander, Perhaps you take Mr. Batterson a little too seriously. I don't mean that as a criticism. What I mean is yes he's a troll. But aren't all of us here on occasion. He's no different than our old buddy Biilybob/johnnyvegas/surfpuppy. I've been around this site way longer than he has and there always have been and always will be interlopers. Sometimes they are fun to f*ck with, but mostly I don't pay them any mind. At his age, I would imagine he doesn't have much else to do.

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danfogel Oct. 3, 2018 @ 4:36 p.m.

Cassander Let me simplify what I meant above. Like all the other trolls here, past, present and future, dwbat can only bother you if let him. I tend to view his efforts sometimes with humor, but more often with pity.

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