LTA seeking proposals for bike-sharing scheme

The aim of the proposed bike-sharing scheme is to complement public transport by offering the bicycle as a convenient and affordable option to complete the first or last mile of a journey, the LTA said in its request for information on government pro
The aim of the proposed bike-sharing scheme is to complement public transport by offering the bicycle as a convenient and affordable option to complete the first or last mile of a journey, the LTA said in its request for information on government procurement website GeBIZ. -- ST FILE PHOTO

It plans to start trials on cycling path network by end of next year

Before a bike-share trial is wheeled out next year, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) wants to find out how much it will cost, how it will be run and whether it is feasible.

The LTA issued a request for information (RFI) yesterday on government procurement website GeBIZ to seek proposals from industry players on implementing bike-sharing in Singapore.

It intends to introduce a trial scheme by the end of next year in areas with cycling path networks.

Potential locations are the city centre, Jurong Lake district, Pasir Ris, Tampines and Sembawang.

Bicycle-sharing is a self-service public bike rental scheme in which users can pay a fee to use a network of bikes distributed around an area.

Its aim is to complement public transport by offering the bicycle as a convenient and affordable option to complete the first or last mile of a journey, the LTA said.

The scheme should make it easier for commuters to make short trips to public transport nodes such as MRT stations, amenities and places of interest.

Besides providing details on automated docking stations, interested parties must also supply information on aspects like how the scheme will be funded.

The RFI exercise will conclude by the fourth quarter of this year, and the LTA will use the information to craft a tender for the bike-share pilot.

More than 600 cities have bike-share systems, including Hangzhou, Shanghai, New York, Paris and London.

In Singapore, NTUC Income wheeled out a bike-share scheme called Town Bike at four housing estates in 2004.

However, it folded in 2008 due to low usage and factors such as the lack of a dedicated cycling route.

Since then, the authorities have moved to improve cycling infrastructure.

Under the National Cycling Plan, there will be 700km of cycling paths by 2030, up from an estimated 250km now.

Cyclists and observers say safety is a key issue that must be addressed.

Avid cyclist Francis Chu started a bike-share scheme named Isuda around one-north two years ago, but ended it after members told him they felt unsafe cycling on roads in the area.

Mr Mohamed Salim, the chief executive of First Principle Financial, which offers bicycle insurance, said potential routes have to be safe and friendly to be appealing.

"As a cyclist myself, I wouldn't dare to cycle on the road in the CBD during rush hours."

He hopes membership for the scheme will be priced low to encourage people to sign up.

The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy in New York noted that many of the most successful systems share certain common features.

These include having a dense network of stations spaced about 300m apart, comfortable bikes with parts that discourage theft, a fully automated locking system that is easy to use, wireless tracking of bicycles, real-time user information and pricing structures that encourage short trips.

Transport consultant Tham Chen Munn said cycling policies must also be re-examined, such as allowing people to ride on footpaths and expanding bicycle crossing schemes to popular junctions.

The climate should not be an issue as trips are meant to be short and taken at a leisurely pace, he said.

"This alternative could be cheaper than the bus and there's definitely less waiting time."

roysim@sph.com.sg