OXFORD is set to be flooded with even more brightly coloured dockless bikes after three of the city's operators revealed plans to expand ahead of the summer months.

Oxford Mail: Ofo bikes arrive in Oxford - reporter Callum Keown takes one for a test ride..21.8.2017.Picture by Ed Nix.

It has been almost six months since Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council agreed a voluntary 'code of conduct' which opened the flood gates to dockless bike providers to move into the city.

Ofo, Pony Bikes and Mobike have all told the Oxford Mail they intend to ask the local authorities for permission to deploy even more of the bikes, which can be rented using an app and left anywhere.

But not everyone is convinced by the sight of bikes dotted across the city's streets, with many readers reporting sightings of them dumped in unusual places.

Bikeplus, the representative body for bike sharing, said a city the size of Oxford's should only have one or two operators.

But currently there are 850 throughout the city belonging to three companies.

Chinese company Ofo were the first to arrive in the city in August last year and after a successful trial were initially allowed to deploy 200 bikes.

The firm's operations manager for Oxford, Stuart McCarroll, said: "It's been a colossal success, numbers are huge both ride numbers and also numbers of new people getting on a bike."

He said high uptake in areas of lower housing cost, such as Blackbird Leys and Littlemore, had been the 'biggest surprise' with people using the bike to get to college or the city centre.

Its coverage of 14 square miles is the largest of all four city operators.

Mr McCarroll added: "We cover the whole of the city and place such as Littlemore and Blackbird Leys – and it's in these areas of lower housing cost that it's so important people have access to the bikes."

Mobike currently has 200 bikes in the city and is operated by Oxford University spin-out company Cycle.land.

Mobike's UK general manager, Steve Pyer, said: "We have seen immense popularity in the use of Mobikes even in this cold winter.

It's great to see that we address the need for shared bikes and we have high hopes for the coming spring.

He added: "We hope to expand the number of bikes available in Oxford."

Oxford Mail: Pony Bikes co-founder Paul Murray prepares to launch in Oxford in August

Pony Bikes began with just 20 bikes in Oxford in September but has recently expanded to 450 bikes, and co-founder Clara Vaisse said she would be pushing for more at a meeting with the city council next month.

She said: "We are really happy with how things have gone in Oxford the response has been really positive - we have been averaging at two to three rides per bike per day.

"We are meeting with the council again at the end of next month and we think that more bikes will be needed by the summer and expect usage to increase."

She said that council officials had been supportive of expansion plans at all previous meetings as long as the restrictions and bike safety requirements of an agreed 'code of conduct' were adhered to.

A Pony Bike was recently abandoned on top of a bus shelter in Cowley Road, which prompted criticism of the concept online.

But Ms Vaisse said it was 'probably students' and that reports of misuse were rare.

She said: "We have had maybe three cases of vandalism in six months, which is good and there's nothing to worry about."

While Mr McCarroll said his team 'take it very personally' when Ofo bikes are mistreated or vandalised but that it only represented a small fraction of bikes and rides.

Councillor Louise Upton, Oxford City Council’s cycling champion, said: “In general, dockless bikes have become an asset to Oxford. Oxford is a cycling city, and dockless bikes have encouraged and enabled more people to take up cycling in Oxford, which in turn helps people keep active, and helps reduce congestion and pollution.

“We have had very few complaints about dockless bikes and the schemes are not creating additional costs for the City Council.

“We meet regularly with the dockless bike companies and are pleased that, in all cases, they are adhering to the voluntary code of conduct and only increasing the number of bikes after first getting permission from the city and county councils.

“There have been a small number of issues where individual users have misused dockless bikes, particularly by dumping them inappropriately, but this is very much the minority of users. We are meeting with representatives from the dockless bike companies later this month to look at ways to reduce this inappropriate and annoying use of their bikes.”

Oxford Mail: Ofo bike in Frideswide Square

When the Oxford Mail posted a story about abandoned bikes it prompted a huge response.

Reader Jacky Nutt Turner McIver said one hire bike had been left on Pebble Hill & Woodlands Mobile Home Park Office in Radley ‘for over a month’.

Chris Rogers shared a picture of a Pony Bike dumped into the Thames in Oxpens.

Oxford Mail: A Pony Bike half-way into the River Thames near Oxpens

Simon Hunt, the chairman of Oxford bike group Cyclox, said: "We welcome them and we think that the schemes on the whole have worked pretty well. We feared that they might overwhelm cycle stand space but that has not happened, generally speaking. We were afraid that they might be left everywhere.

"But it is credit to the companies that they have got good teams picking them up."

He said in the future planning cycle infrastructure could be helped by companies providing GPS data for where the bikes have been taken. He said at least one of those had said it planned to do so.

The companies are not the first dockless bike companies in the city. Bainton Bikes, which hires out bikes for tourists, have operated in Oxford and other towns since 2009.