If you have been following the news recently, you would observe that some Singaporeans takes a rather “experimental” approach towards bike-sharing.
We don’t just ride the shared bikes. We have chained them up for private use, raided them for parts and even tried to drown the shared bikes in canals. Some people have even filmed themselves tossing shared bikes from high buildings.
Since then, these irresponsible bike throwers have been arrested and charged with committing a rash act but cases of bike abuse still persists. In Ang Mo Kio where I live, you can see chained up Obikes or Mobikes tossed haphazardly on the ground.
To me, this is a terrible shame because I genuinely enjoy using these shared bikes and I believe that they can be a boon to the community if everyone treats them right.
Firstly, the bikes are a convenience. They turn those mid-distance trips to the nearest supermarket or my local library from sweaty one-hour treks into breezy 20-minute pedals. If it’s too hot to walk and there is no direct bus to my destination, I always find myself looking out for the saving gleam of a shared bike.
Secondly, the shared bikes are a healthier alternative to taking a car or a taxi. According to the Internet, cycling for an hour at 14 km/h burns 600 to 800 calories depending on your weight. It is approximately 10 times better than taking a car and sitting on your bum, which burns only 60 calories per hour – or 61 calories if you also thumb your Instagram feed really vigorously.
Despite these advantages, we can’t seem to find it within ourselves to treat these bicycles right. Although only a small minority of bikes suffer abuse (Obike estimates the number at 1 per cent), the shared bike providers have responded with carrot-and-stick measures to nudge users towards the right behaviour.
Ofo, whose bikes have seen some of the most dramatic abuse, has since lodged police reports and implemented a money deposit system to deter potential abuse.
Meanwhile, Obike came up with a points system that rewards well-behaved bike-sharers and penalises ungracious ones. If you park at non-designated bike-parking areas or put a private lock on your bike, they will deduct points from your profile and make it more expensive for you to bike-share in future.
Whether these measures will achieve their desired effect, only time will tell. Until then, keep in mind these basic bike-share courtesies that are guaranteed to make Singapore a happier place for bike users and pedestrians alike:
Do not lock up with your private lock
These bikes are shared property. Do not use a private lock to reserve them. It’s like taking up an MRT seat with your bag when the train is crowded or helping yourself to extra rolls of toilet paper from a public washroom.
Do not throw the bicycles from high places
The laws of gravity were already discovered by Sir Isaac Newton more than 300 years ago. Throwing a bicycle from your flat contributes nothing new to our knowledge of physics. It only serves to endanger the lives of people who might get hit by the falling bike. Even if the bicycle hits no one, the throwing of killer litter carries a maximum jail term of five years.
Do not park the bike in ‘unorthodox’ spaces
Try to park your bike in a designated parking area like one of the bicycle parking zones that LTA has set up and avoid causing obstruction to other path users. Do not park it in a private place where it cannot be reached by others. Do not park it in a canal or up in a tree.
Do not vandalise or damage your shared bike
Treat your bicycle with care and love. If you need spare parts for your own bicycle, you can find them online at Bicycles.sg or Lazada. It’s much easier than trying to salvage it by stripping a Mobike.
Always follow traffic regulations
It doesn’t matter who owns the bike, the rules still apply. Cycle below the 15km/h footpath speed limit or the 25km/h cycling/shared path speed limit and dismount and push your bicycle when you see a no riding sign. You can find the full set of regulations at LTA’s official site.
Do your necessary safety checks
Brakes, check. Lights, check. If the bike is broken, be a good neighbour and report it to the shared bike provider.
In cities like Amsterdam and London, cycling has become a way of life for many. Even if we’re not quite there yet, bike-sharing has the potential to benefit our lives – it’s good for your wallet, good for health and it adds convenience to our lives. All we need to do is to practise some civic courtesy and give them the love they rightly deserve.