Don't give up on dockless bike sharing

While I agree that the current implementation of dockless bike-sharing has its flaws, it does not make sense to give up on the idea entirely because of a few errant users (Dark signals from China's bike-sharing scene by Mr Wong Horng Ginn; Nov 29).

Even though people buying and riding their own bikes is a possible solution to the problem, it does not offer the same flexibility to the user that shared bikes do.

For example, it is more convenient to transit to another mode of transport with a shared bike, as well as when making one-way trips.

The cost of ownership is also more than just the purchase price of the bike.

As a bicycle owner myself, I have to provide the necessary space and means of securing the bicycle, as well as maintaining it at regular intervals.

The benefits of shared bikes to commuters still far outweigh the costs.

Perhaps solutions beyond software geofencing are needed to rein in errant users.

One idea would be to use a second factor of authentication to verify that the bicycles are parked in designated areas.

This could be in the form of a QR code on an e-ink screen placed at each designated bicycle parking area that refreshes with each use to prevent abuse, much like how Internet banking tokens work.

Dockless bike sharing is an idea worth preserving - all it needs is some creative behaviour engineering to tackle errant users.

Zhao Weijie

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2017, with the headline 'Don't give up on dockless bike sharing'. Print Edition | Subscribe