Singapore shelves plans for national bike-sharing scheme: 7 other schemes around the world

Impounded bicycles from bike-sharing schemes Mobike and Ofo in Shanghai on March 1, 2017.
Impounded bicycles from bike-sharing schemes Mobike and Ofo in Shanghai on March 1, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - The Government last week said it was shelving plans for a national bicycle-sharing scheme, after a third private provider - China-based Mobike - joined the fray. 

Along with local start-up oBike and another Chinese outfit, ofo, the trio are looking at rolling out "many thousands" of pay-as-you-use bicycles over the next two years. 

With some public bike-sharing schemes in cities across the world proving to be a popular yet costly and problematic affair, it remains to be seen if Singapore's move to forgo one of its own will pay off. 

Here's a look at some prominent schemes around the globe.

1. Hangzhou, China


A bicycle sharing station next to West Lake in Hangzhou. PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS 

While bicycle-sharing is big in China, the capital city of Zhejiang province, with a population of nine million, wins hands down for the sheer size of its system - considered to be the largest in the world.

 
 

Launched in May 2008 to act as a feeder into its public transit network, it currently has more than 60,000 bicycles spread out across 2,700 stations. Reports said there are plans to expand the fleet to 175,000 bicycles by 2020.

The scheme is funded by the local government and employs a smart-card system that requires a 200 yuan (S$40.50) deposit. Users ride for free for the first hour.

Its success as the pioneer bicycle sharing scheme in China has led to the implementation of similar systems in over a dozen more cities across the country.

2. Paris, France

Velib, the French capital's public bicycle-sharing programme, was proposed by then-mayor Bertrand Delanoe and launched in July 2007.

It has since grown to become the world's largest bike-share programme outside of China, clocking a total of 173 million journeys on its sixth anniversary in 2013.


Bike attachment points at a Velib station in Paris. PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS 

The self-service system, which is funded by outdoor advertising firm JCDecaux in exchange for a substantial portion of Paris' income from on-street advertising hoardings, currently has 23,600 bicycles (available round-the-clock throughout the year) in 1,800 bicycle stations across the city.

The first 30 minutes of each trip are always free, and users can choose to sign up for a long-term subscription starting from €19 (S$29), or buy a one-day or seven-day ticket online.

The programme, however, has been plagued by vandalism and theft - it was reported in 2009 that the Paris City Council had to step in and pledge to cover €500 of the cost of replacing each damaged bicycle, with the estimated annual expenditure amounting to around 2 million.

3. London, England


Blue, yellow and red bicycles for hire in London. PHOTO: CHRIS MCKENNA VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMMONS 

Modelled after Velib, the city's public bicycle hire scheme began life as Barclays Cycle Hire in July 2010 before being renamed Satander Cycles in April 2015 when it changed bank sponsors.

Available all-year round, there are now over 750 docking stations and more than 11,000 bicycles - affectionately called Boris Bikes after then-mayor Boris Johnson - across London.

The scheme, which has attracted praise for its effectiveness and safety, registered a record 10.3 million journeys in 2016. A recent study showed that cyclists using the scheme's bicycles are three times less likely to be injured per trip than the average London cyclist, while market research revealed that nearly half of its members surveyed said the scheme had prompted them to take up cycling in London on a regular basis.

It costs £2 (S$3.50) to access a bicycle for 24 hours - the first 30 minutes are free, after that it costs £2 per 30 minutes - and an annual membership goes for £90.

4. Montreal, Canada


BIXI users ride on the streets of Montreal. PHOTO: BIXI MONTREAL/FACEBOOK 

Launched in May 2009, BIXI Montréal is North America's first large-scale bicycle-sharing system. Its name is a play on bicycle and taxi.

The system is in service from April 15 to Nov 15 every year, with its bicycle docking stations removed for the winter. There are currently 6,200 bicycles and 540 stations in service.

Last year, users took 4.1 million BIXI rides, nearly four times the number compared to its first year of service. It now has almost 40,000 members.

Prices start from 2.95 Canadian dollars (S$3.10) for a one-way trip of up to 30 minutes and 75 Canadian dollars for a one-year membership.

Like Velib, BIXI had to contend with vandals and damage to its bicycles early on and was also hampered by mismanagement and financial difficulties by its parent firm, the Public Bike System Company, before it was turned into a non-profit organisation in 2014.

5. New York City, United States 


Customers at Lafayette Street during Citi Bike's opening in May 2013. PHOTO: JIM HENDERSON VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS 

Citi Bike, a privately owned public bike-sharing scheme that got its name from lead sponsor Citigroup, started operations in May 2013 and is currently the largest such programme in the US. The system uses BIXI-branded technology from Canada. 

A scheme for the city was first proposed in 2009, but was delayed due to several factors such as technological issues and Hurricane Sandy. 

There are currently 10,000 bikes and 600 stations across Manhatten, Brooklyn, Queens and Jersey City, with plans to expand to a 12,000-strong fleet by the end of 2017. 

While Citi Bike claims to be a fun and affordable way to get around town, it has the dubious honour of being named in a Guardian report last month as being the most expensive bike-share programme in the world. 

A day pass costs US$12 (S$16.70), with an annual membership priced US$163 a year.  

6. Dublin, Ireland


A Dublinbikes station seen when the scheme first launched in 2009. PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS 

Widely considered to be one of the most successful public bike-share programmes in the world, Dublinbikes started in 2009 with 450 bicycles and 40 stations and has since expanded to 1,500 bikes and over 1,000 stations. 

Sponsored by JCDecaux, it was immediately embraced by the public and exceeded expectations with its usage rates. Coca-Cola Zero came on board as the commercial partner in 2014. 

But the scheme has stalled in recent times despite growing demand - further expansion was put on hold as Dublinbikes is bleeding money to the tune of €376,000 a year, which the city's council said it cannot afford to pay. 

It costs €25 for an annual membership - more than double the price when the scheme first launched - and €5 for a day pass.

7. Marrakesh, Morocco



A Medina Bike on the streets of Marrakesh. PHOTO: MEDINABIKE.MA

Marrakesh's "Medina Bike" scheme was launched in November 2016 in a bid to revive the city's biking culture, making it Africa's first bicycle-sharing programme.

The scheme is a five-year tie-up between local organisation Estates Vision and French bicycle firm Smoove, which won a tender to kickstart the fledgling project. Smoove - which has similar systems in cities such as Helsinki, Chicago and Moscow - had also submitted a bid to operate Singapore's national bike-sharing scheme. 

It currently has 300 bicycles and 10 stations available in Marrakesh, although some doubts have been raised over the city's cycling infrastructure and the scheme's accessibility to lower-income locals. 

Users can choose from several price plans, including 50 dirhams (S$7) for a day-pass and 500 dirhams for an annual membership.