MOU signed between Jurong-Clementi Town Council and bike-sharing firms to encourage responsible bicycle use

ST VIDEO: ANNABETH LEOW

SINGAPORE - Jurong residents can look forward to a timely removal of shared bicycles that obstruct public areas.

The companies will also provide users with incentives, such as credits, to park their bicycles in designated areas and will supply the authorities with users' cycling patterns to improve the planning of future cycling paths.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed on Saturday (April 29) morning between Jurong-Clementi Town Council and representatives of the three bike-share companies - Mobike, ofo Singapore and the home-grown oBike.

This was part of a one-year pilot scheme to bring bike-sharing to Jurong through partnerships with the three firms.

The scheme - if successful - will replace the proposed National Bicycle Sharing Scheme that would have been launched in the district later this year.

The government-backed national programme was shelved last month after private bike-share companies entered the market.

MP Ang Wei Neng, chairman of Jurong-Clementi Town Council, said that one issue was that the proposed national programme "pales in comparison" with the private bicycle-sharing sector when it comes to fleet size and the speed and cost of implementation.

"I know some agencies dislike the rental bicycles provided by these three companies, because of its disrupting technology," said Mr Ang. "However, I would like to embrace this bike-sharing scheme, instead of rejecting it."

 
 
 
 

Under the terms of the MOU, the three companies must each set up a 24-hour contact centre to respond to reports of illegal parking or unsafe bicycle use.

When notified, they will have to remove the bicycle within four hours, if alerted between 8.30am and 7pm. Otherwise, the bicycle must be removed by 7am the next day.

Parking spaces intended mainly for rental bicycles will be added to 30 sites in Jurong - on top of 120 new bicycle racks - to ease the problem of bicycle-sharing firms' vehicles being parked willy-nilly in public areas.

The MOU also formalises the requirement that bike-sharing companies have bicycle geolocation technology, as well as third-party insurance.

"Some agencies feel that rental bikes are a nuisance because they can be found parked anywhere, indiscriminately," Mr Ang said. "This is something we want to minimise."

He said at the launch of the pilot scheme, which will be watched by other constituencies and town councils, that its success will depend on the responsible behaviour of users, which can be achieved through education.

"Otherwise, there will be pushback from other residents who do not cycle," he said.

He added that the use of bicycles must also increase, "which will in itself bring many benefits to our health, reduce carbon emissions and bring about a car-lite society".

As for recent media reports about antisocial damage to shared bicycles - such as repainting their livery or throwing them into drains - Mr Ang said in response that the added parking spaces might have the advantage of deterring such acts.

"Vandalism may be minimised because everyone can see the bicycles," he said.