Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Bike Sharing Schemes

Okay, remember how I am constantly moaning about how cycling just refuses to catch on in Malaysia?

A couple of years ago, a rather soft-spoken but extremely industrious gentleman by the name of Jeffery Lim made great inroads in encouraging cycling as a form of transport. The guy is a bloody legend. He helped DBKL out by creating a cycling map from scratch! That is a monumental effort.

If you need a copy of the map, I am sure it's physically available at certain locations, but it's certainly ONLINE.

Now that you have some established routes, all you need is a bicycle.

Problem solved!

If you're in Melaka, the Chinese company Ofo has already launched its bicycles there. Users pay only RM1 per hour to rent the bike.

And if you're in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore's oBikes are not only launching, but are offering FREE unlimited one hour rides from 14 August until 30 September. No promo code needed.

Privately, I have had my reservations about these sort of bike rental schemes. Kuala Lumpur is not the first city for some of these bike companies to set up their business.

In Melbourne, for instance, the bikes for rent have been thrown in the river, up some trees, and basically just vandalised.
These are chunky bikes; how did they get up there??

I do despair of such asinine behaviour. You know how historians and social scientists love to tell us how far we have come as a human race? Bah humbug!

I hope Malaysians don't sink so low as to vandalise these bikes. I recognise that these aren't state of the art bikes; they are clunky and heavy, but they get you places if you put in the effort.

I must say that Rapid Transit Network has been improving their attitude towards cycling as they have mandated first and third Sundays of the month for bring full-sized bicycles on board the Kelana Jaya, Ampang and Sri Petaling Line LRTs.

Previously, people were only allowed to carry folding bikes onto the LRT, monorail, and MRT during off-peak hours on Monday to Friday, Saturday, Sunday and public holidays.

I cannot emphasise how important connectivity with transits is, for a longer commute.

I have, though, wondered what the cost of maintaining and renting out these bikes must be. In Melbourne, the law is that helmets must be worn at all times while cycling. Apparently, the helmets went for a walk - very frequently!! Replacing them each time must be costly.

Frankly, I prefer to ride my own bike. It's a 21-speed, weighs next to nothing and rides like a charm. I also confess I wouldn't like to share helmets with anyone else. I have a bit of a hygiene obsession and that would put me off.

That being said, owning your own bike can have its disadvantages, as bicycle maintenance can be a pain. Degreasing the chains and then lubricating them up again takes up time and energy, not to mention the need to lay out the tools and clear out space for doing it.

And have I moaned about how dirty wheels contacting the rim brakes can squeal in such an annoying way that it can be extremely embarrassing if you haven't cleaned them in awhile? A cloth and some rubbing alcohol usually sorts that out, but it's an activity that car-users never have to worry about.

But that's life, and the cost of living healthy while keeping as low a carbon footprint as possible.

Perhaps Malaysia might learn to appreciate that.

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