Bike-sharing a hit with S’poreans
Data from bike-sharing companies show high demand from commuters in southern and eastern parts of the country
Singaporeans and others living here appear to have embraced bike-sharing, if figures from bike-sharing companies here are anything to go by.
Revealing its first-year statistics exclusively to The New Paper, oBike said it currently has one million active users.
Mobike said its bicycles have made 10 million trips, while an ofo spokesman said that its fleet is "growing".
According to the companies, their bicycles are used more frequently in the evenings.
Figures from oBike also indicate that its bicycles are used frequently for commuting during the weekday, with peak periods at between 4pm and 9pm and 6am and 9am.
Mr Tim Phang, general manager of oBike Singapore, said: "Commute on weekday evenings is at its highest peak, with ridership at three times higher compared to other times during weekdays."
Mobike also told TNP that its data revealed that riders here are "evening cyclers", while ofo said that its peak periods of use are during the morning and evening commutes.
As for where the bikes are mostly used, oBike's Mr Phang said the majority of its ridership is in the southern and eastern parts of Singapore, at 35 per cent and 32 per cent respectively.
A Mobike spokesman said the bulk of its demand comes from the universities, the Central Business District (CBD) and in East Coast Park (ECP).
Its bikes also see use to and from train stations, in line with LTA objectives to "improve first-and-last-mile connectivity and encourage cycling for short trips", spelt out when it called for a tender for a docked system of bicycle-sharing back in 2016.
Plans for the system were later scrapped when dockless bicycles started rolling out early last year.
National University of Singapore transport expert Lee Der-Horng told TNP that the majority of the southern riders could come from office workers in the CBD, while the big number of eastern riders could be due to the recreational bike use in East Coast Park as well as the cycling towns there.
Mr Gopinath Menon, a senior research fellow at Nanyang Technological University specialising in transport, agreed.
"Tampines, Pasir Ris and Bedok are pioneers in cycling facilities, but other towns are catching up," he said.
3 TO 4 TIMES A DAY
According to oBike, its average user has cycled 1.3km and each bike is used three times a day in good weather. Meanwhile, ofo said each of its bikes is used four times a day.
Dr Lee, however, was sceptical over the ridership figures.
"If there are so many active users using the bicycles so many times, there should not be so many unused bicycles," he said.
Bicycle-sharing here does not yet have proper infrastructure, added Dr Lee. He explained that the infrastructure is still "insufficient", as evidenced by the shared-bicycles "littering" footpaths and pavements.
"If Singapore is to become a bike-sharing community, we need proper guidelines because it is now getting out of hand," said Dr Lee.
Last October, LTA announced that it had signed an agreement with bicycle-sharing firms here, as well as the National Parks Board and all 16 town councils, to encourage the responsible use of shared two-wheelers in public spaces, such as public paths and parks.
It also added then that by the start of this year, there would be more than 4,000 yellow bike-parking boxes for both privately-owned and shared bikes.
Under the Street Works Act, bicycle users who obstruct others by parking indiscriminately in public can be fined up to $2,000.
When asked if the shared-bicycles are achieving the aims LTA had originally set out, Mr Menon said he observed more bikes being used to and from bus stops than to train stations.
"I also notice that many bikes are used for recreational cycling," he added.
Dr Lee said he does not see the first and last mile issue as a pressing one as for most public residential areas in Singapore, a train station or bus stop is "not more than 15 minutes" away.
The ones who might be affected more, he added, are those living in private estates as these tend to be further away from bus stops and train stations.