The arrival of the e-scooter in Singapore came to many as a boon that would help solve many of their transport woes.
Unfortunately, it ended up bringing just as much trouble as it did help, with multiple cases of accidents as well as fatalities from people falling off the e-scooter or injuring others.
Now, there’s a new player in town, but instead of e-scooters, you’re getting bicycles.
The bike-sharing and rental system is not a novel one, with the practice going back as far as 1965 – even though the pioneering effort was a flop.
Since then, more than 900 bike-share systems have been put in place all across the globe, with China being the leader in bike-sharing amenities.
Riding Into Town
oBike is a Singapore startup that rolled into place without much fanfare, but its business model presents something interesting indeed.
Existing bike-sharing services involved fixed docking stations at which bike users have to park their rental bikes.
The station-less oBike however, does not utilise this parking method.
Instead, bike users can simply park the bicycles at any public bicycle parking area or at HDB void-decks where it is in clear sight. The bike is deactivated with a wheel clamp that the riders can secure on after they are done with it.
Each bicycle is fitted with a GPS tracking so app users can search for a bike nearest to them. The bicycles also have a QR code which users can scan into the app to deactivate the locks after which they are free to use the bicycles.
Once they have reached their destination, they simply lock the bike up again using the app to complete the trip. Users can reserve bicycles in advance for up to 10 minutes as well.
As of the moment, usage for oBike is charged at $1 / 30 minutes, and this is charged to the user’s credit card or PayPal account. As with any new service, oBike has also introduced the “Invite a friend” system that will reward both parties with a S$3 ride coupon.
Keep In Mind
One issue that came into concern was how putting more bicycles out there on the road might lead to problems for pedestrians or motorists.
Singapore’s roads have been a downright hazard over the past few weeks, with multiple freak fatalities as well as drivers going in the wrong direction.
In March 2016, The Straits Times pointed out a rising number of accidents and fatalities, citing reasons such as poor safe cycling education, and a lack of infrastructure for cyclists.
According to Mr. Steven Lim, president of the Safe Cycling Task force, many cyclists also still attempt to race traffic lights.
oBike does not seem to be for recreation, but rather to get from Point A to B. Throw in the rather unfriendly rental costs, and we might start seeing more people rushing to complete their journeys.
Vigorous exercise is good, but racing along public roads isn’t exactly laudable.
Not to mention that there are other factors to take in consideration, such as hand signs that cyclists on the road should use to signal to traffic around them. Safety helmets are also highly recommended (the lack of them have played roles in e-scooter fatalities), but cyclists without them remain a prevalent sight.
Children riding pillion without fitted child seats are also common, and with some parents even taking more than 1 board simultaneously.
Cycle, But Do It Safely
The public opinion of oBike has not yet picked up enough traction to gauge if the bike-sharing system can take off without a hitch. But before that, the more crucial issue is whether Singaporeans can adapt to better road safety rules.
The intention of promoting a greener, healthier lifestyle with shared bikes may be a well-meaning one, but basic road safety education and proper infrastructure still remain problems unsolved.
Featured Image Credit: nparks