The Sunday Times says

Cycling towards a sharing culture

People cycling on the newly completed route at the Ang Mo Kio Walking and Cycling Town.
People cycling on the newly completed route at the Ang Mo Kio Walking and Cycling Town. PHOTO: ST FILE

Bike-sharing schemes are welcome as these will help usher in a new era of urban mobility. Bicycles can play an important role by offering the first- and last-mile commute between workplaces and public transport nodes such as MRT stations. It is therefore essential for the bike-sharing project to develop a reputation for convenience, reliability and low-cost usage.

Even though plans for a government-backed scheme have been shelved because private firms have stepped in, the authorities should monitor closely how these services are actually performing on the ground. Tracking bikes and their usage patterns, and ensuring that they work safely will help sustain the nascent success of the scheme.

Users have an important part to play as well. Unfortunately, some have gone to astonishing lengths to reserve bikes for their exclusive use. Chaining them up, or even repainting them in order to mask the rental companies' livery, is not just inconsiderate behaviour, it is downright dishonest. Although such practices constitute but a fraction of usage, bike companies and other users would be right to be concerned over the spread of such egregious conduct. An effective way of clamping down on illegal behaviour would be to impose fines or other deterrent measures.

From a larger perspective, the considerate use of shared bikes, like mutuality demonstrated on pavements, helps to promote a sharing culture which can ensure that all public facilities are kept in good condition for the benefit of all. In earlier times, firm steps had to be taken against Third World habits, like the non-flushing of public toilets. As more public spaces are upgraded imaginatively, one would hope that social attitudes will also move to a higher plane. Using public facilities and equipment responsibly reflects a concern for others. Indeed, the very next user might well be a member of one's family, friend or neighbour.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 30, 2017, with the headline 'Cycling towards a sharing culture'. Print Edition | Subscribe