Penang Bike Share project postponed due to slow take-up rate

PENANG: The island’s target of being the first state to have a bicycle sharing system or rent a bike has hit a speed bump.

The company which won a Penang Island City Council (MBPP) tender to create the system has postponed the launch of the project, which was supposed to roll out this month.

Public Bike Share Sdn Bhd chief executive officer and founder Hubert Fong said he was concerned that the take-up rate for bike commuting among Penangites was too slow for the system to be in demand.

“We need more people to be willing to use bicycles for commuting. Although we see more people getting on board, the numbers are growing too slowly,” he said.

The project was supposed to have 25 stations, 1,000 bicycle docks and 500 bicycles.

Fong, who did not give a new launch date, said: “We want to launch with a big impact. We don’t want it to be a white elephant.”

The project, dubbed Penang Bike Share, would entail a capital outlay of RM12.5mil, Fong said.

When the tender award was announced in August last year, Penang Bike Share was said to emulate systems in London, New York or Taipei.

Users can pick up a bicycle at any bike-share station with a special pass or their credit cards, and subsequently return the bikes by docking them again at any other station after they are done commuting.

It was announced that the first set of bike stations would be commissioned this month and project completion would be by 2017.

Fong said his company was committed to helping the state promote cycling as an alternative transportation mode because it could help cut down traffic congestion.

“However, Penang Bike Share is not an independent solution.

Fong added that it was important for Penang Bike Share to roll out together with other public infrastructure facilities such as a comprehensive network of bicycle lanes.

The company, he said, had been working closely with the state government to have bicycle lanes on suitable roads.

He also said the company was involved in a committee set up by MBPP to develop a cycling infrastructure in Penang.

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