SINGAPORE: While plans for a national bicycle sharing scheme have been scrapped, grassroots organisations and companies have been working in tandem to make cycling the preferred way to get around.
On Saturday (Apr 29), Jurong-Clementi Town Council was the latest to hop on with the launch of a one-year pilot bicycle sharing programme. This is in conjunction with three bicycle rental companies that recently made inroads into the Singapore market - Mobike, oBike, and ofo.
As part of the agreement – the town council is providing 30 bicycle parking zones for 120 bicycles around Jurong Central. These zones - yellow rectangle boxes - are mainly for bicycles belonging to the three operators, and can be found in areas like under HDB estates or near Chinese Gardens MRT station.
The town council said it will also add more bicycle racks – but these will be paid for by the companies themselves.
In return, the companies have to, among other things, ensure that those who rent the bicycles park them in the right place, and not obstruct common areas in the neighbourhood. The rise of dockless bicycle sharing – where users do not have to return bicycles to fixed stations, has given rise to horror stories of bicycles blocking letterboxes, corridors, or fire exit routes.
As part of the agreement – companies have to remove bicycles that are illegally parked within four hours, if alerted by the town council between 8.30am and 7pm, and before 7am the following day if they are notified after 7pm.
All three companies say they have incentive and demerit schemes to encourage right riding and parking behaviour.
"If we receive any reports, we are going to find the previous user, and this is possible because we have a GPS system,” said Mobike’s Singapore Manager Sharon Meng. “We know who the previous user is, and we are going to deduct points from the previous user."
The companies also have to provide third-party insurance covering accidents or bicycle damages and provide travelling or cycling pattern information to the authorities, among others.
SMALL EVENT, WIDE IMPLICATIONS
Jurong MP Ang Wei Neng said the launch of the pilot on Saturday was a "small event", but has wide implications. For example, if successful, the scheme may be extended to all seven divisions in Jurong GRC, Yuhua, and Bukit Batok SMC, and may serve “as a reference for other town councils”.
"We want to embrace the bicycle-sharing scheme rather than rejecting it," he said. "We want our residents to enjoy the convenience of rental bicycles right at the void deck without the disamenities.
If this scheme is successful, it will effectively replace the National Bicycle Sharing Scheme supposedly to be launched at the Jurong Lake District in late 2017 but was canned.”
Mr Ang added: “The whole of Jurong and the whole of Singapore is watching this pilot scheme closely."
The companies added that they are looking to work with more town councils and private developers.