Thumbs up for bike sharing

A visitor checking out the bicycle sharing system at the station in Beach Street, George Town.

I WAS impressed with the bicycle sharing system in Taipei, Taiwan, when I first came across it during my visit there in 2013.

I recall standing in front of a bike sharing kiosk at Xinyi district near Taiwan’s iconic Taipei 101 skyscraper, reading the instructions on the electronic display panel and figuring out how the system works.

Registered users could grab a bike from a kiosk in less than a minute, cycle and later return it to any kiosk nearest to them.

I remember thinking then how feasible it would be for Penang to have a similar system.

Now three years down the road, good news has reached my ears.

The state and the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) recently announced that a bike sharing system would be implemented here.

Starting from Dec 17, Penang has its own bicycle sharing system (BSS) known as LinkBike.

Penang’s BSS is a public owned and privately managed model at a cost of RM1.85mil, with funds coming from MBPP (90%) and the private company Fast Rent Bike (10%).

At the starting stage, LinkBike provides some 60 bicycles at nine stations, namely Gama (bicycle hub), Jalan Magazine (1st Avenue Mall), Jalan Padang Kota Lama (City Hall), Lebuh Pantai (OCBC Bank and Malaysia Tourism Office), Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah (MWE building), Jalan Penang (junction of Lebuh Campbell), Lebuh Acheh (opposite World Heritage Office) and Lebuh Light (opposite Hong Leong Bank).

Cyclists who download the mobile apps by Jan 2 will also receive a 14-day free trial pass.

Fast Rent Bike director Ken Yeoh announced that an additional 16 stations would be ready in stages next year, stretching from Queens-bay Mall to Tanjung Tokong.

The free trial has encouraged me to try out LikeBike.

I downloaded the apps, registered it on Friday and took a ride from 1st Avenue to Leith Street for a cup of coffee with MBPP building director Yew Tung Seang, who is creating better cycling facilities in Penang, and councillor Ong Ah Teong.

The simple registration and bike collecting process got a thumbs up from me.

But I had to follow Yew and Ong from behind as I was not comfortable cycling on busy roads such as Jalan Tun Dr Lim Chwee Leong and Lebuh Chulia.

The roads in the George Town heritage area are narrow and awareness on road sharing among the public is also still lacking.

I am hoping the authorities will improvise safety standards for all road users. Better to be safe than sorry.

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