KL open to bike-sharing service

  • Metro News
  • Wednesday, 20 Sep 2017

DBKL happy with partnership during the SEA Games but company needs to look into problems such as haphazard parking of bicycles. 

KUALA Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) is keeping its options open on the oBike bicycle-sharing service after partnering with it during the recent SEA Games 2017.

The Ride for KL2017 programme began on Aug 3 and will end on Sept 30 after the end of the Asean Para Games.

“KL2017 and our partnership with oBike was an opportunity for DBKL to take our green initiatives a step further.

“It was in support of the Games and the city’s green initiatives so we were happy to work with them,” said Kuala Lumpur mayor Tan Sri Mohd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz.

The company’s permit to operate in Kuala Lumpur will cease at the end of the month.

When asked if there were plans to work with oBike on other projects, Amin Nordin said, “We will look into it once the Games are over and after gathering public feedback and data from oBike.

“We have always advocated green living in Kuala Lumpur and we want to encourage people to use public transport instead of driving.”

Amin Nordin said DBKL’s car-free mornings, tree-planting initiatives, polystyrene ban, and discouraging the use of plastic were about reducing carbon emissions and preserving the environment.

The oBikes were popular with visitors to the SEA Games venue in Bukit Jalil.
TheoBikes were popular with visitors to the SEA Games venue in Bukit Jalil.

While bicycle riding is a good initiative and should be encouraged, the mayor said there were some challenges that needed to be discussed with oBike.

These included the indiscriminate parking of the bicycles by users.

“We had some problems with people abandoning their bikes on pedestrian walkways and bus stops, where we informed oBike and the company removed it. The users must also be responsible.

“The SEA Games provided us with an opportunity to start, but we will have to further study the partnership,” he said.

According to DBKL, as of August, oBike deployed 1,700 bicycles across the city centre and at the various SEA Games venues.

Working closely with DBKL on its operations in the city, oBike business development manager Ian Goh said they implemented a credit point system to counteract issues with haphazard parking.

“Points are given to users who report improperly parked or spoiled bicycles, and they may get lower fares and possibly other benefits in the future,” he said.

A few oBikes strategically placed at the Taman Tun Dr Ismail commercial area.
A few oBikes strategically placed at the Taman Tun Dr Ismail commercial area.

Currently, a majority of the bicycles in the city are located at public spots, such as Menara DBKL and near public transport stations.

“We have also worked with private partners to place our bicycles at hotels, shopping malls and other spots where we believe the oBike would be a convenient way for visitors and tourists to use.”

Goh recommended oBikers find existing bicycle racks or motorcycle spots to park if none were available nearby to enable their on-ground operation team to easily collect and return them to an oBike Hotspot.

“We have more than 10,000 bicycles placed in the Klang Valley and the number is growing.

“So far, less than 3% of oBikes have been vandalised. Rarely do our users abuse it because of a sense of community that has developed among oBikers,” Goh said.

He stressed the importance of creating an ecosystem from the more than 100,000 oBikers, who potentially act as the eyes and ears of the company in the Klang Valley.

Potential problems

The glut of bike-sharing operators and shared bicycles in China had given rise to a slew of issues there.

Though the bike-sharing culture in Malaysia has not reached such a critical stage, the responsibility of bike-sharing users and continued cooperation between the authorities and the operators is key.

oBikes have been strategically placed at hotspots around Kuala Lumpur to encourage a greener city lifestyle, including next to this bus stop in front of the UCSI University in Taman Taynton View, Cheras.
oBikes have been strategically placed at hotspots around Kuala Lumpur to encourage a greener city lifestyle, including next to this bus stop in front of the UCSI University in Taman Taynton View, Cheras.

The saying that “one bad apple spoils the barrel” rings true for some oBike users.

In the last month, the Petaling Jaya City Council has removed several shared bicycles from circulation, while oBike (M) Sdn Bhd has had to rethink operational strategies of the station-less platform as it is an unlicensed business and due to a lack of civic consciousness among a few users.

Sloppy parking by oBikers has local councils ranting about obstructions to traffic and pedestrians.

As an occasional oBike user who alternates between using public transport and driving, Lisa R. said her pet peeve with other oBikers was their tendency to carelessly park the bicycles at parking bays meant for cars.

“I have seen them park the oBikes right in front of their houses when it is meant to be a shared service, or left haphazardly because they don’t know where to park it.

“At times I have to walk quite a bit in search of a bicycle as the designated parking spots are far from each other,” she said on the need for more oBike Hotspots.

The oBike is a popular mode of transport during the KL2017 in Bukit Jalil Stadium (above) and with the success of the bike-sharing service, KL mayor Mohd Amin Nordin sees its potential for the city. — Photos: Art Chen, LOW LAY PHON /The Star
Growing trend: oBikes parked at a designated zone outside Menara DB KL in Jalan Raja Laut, Kuala Lumpur, during the recent SEA Games 2017. — ART CHEN / The Star

Cycling Kuala Lumpur Bicycle Map project coordinator Jeffrey Lim believes bicycles are a minor concern in terms of intrusiveness within the city.

“I’m releasing a survey report commissioned by Think City called Improvising Streets of Down Town Kuala Lumpur by Oct 25. The survey was done in 2016 on a 34km stretch of streets.

“Based on the survey, for every walkable space pedestrians have, there are three vehicular lanes where more than 80% is encroached by illegally parked vehicles and bad utilities placement on the road and pedestrian paths.

“From 40km of pedestrian paths surveyed, almost 80% were not fit for walking – so I think cycling has the least encroachment issues in the city.”

He said a reactionary measure was not a good plan as there needs to be a long-term vision.

“With no support from the city, there is no federal agenda to create an environment for cycling.

“So policy-wise, any commercial bike-share system is left to fend for itself without any clear direction and goal,” Lim said, adding that DBKL had already engaged consultants for a five-year master plan on walking and cycling that began in April.

As such, oBike’s successful adoption in Kuala Lumpur during the 2017 SEA Games, particularly within arenas such as Bukit Jalil Stadium, has DBKL enthusiastic about its future potential in the city.

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