Bulgarian clears streets of damaged shared bikes

This article is more than 12 months old

Since shared bicycles began rolling out here earlier this year, both operators and the authorities have taken steps to ensure bikes are not abused or parked indiscriminately.

One user has taken it upon himself to help clear the streets of damaged bikes. Mr Zhivko Girginov, a Bulgarian who has been living here for nine years, said he wanted to do something about bicycles cluttering up public spaces.

Since September, he has conducted three "raids", using a rented lorry to collect damaged bicycles and deposit them in a public space where the bike operators can pick them up later.

The 42-year-old piano teacher receives no payment for his "work" and said he does so out of a sense of civic duty.

"My brother is a police officer, so maybe it is in my blood to do this service for the community," he told The Straits Times.

As there are already policies in place to regulate indiscriminately parked bikes, Mr Girginov focuses on damaged bikes, which he said could pose a threat to the safety of users.

While some bikes collected by Mr Girginov have clearly been vandalised, in other cases, the damage stemmed simply from wear-and-tear after months of regular use and exposure to the elements.

He believes the difficulty of reporting damaged bicycles - which requires users to take a photo of the bike and report details such as its exact location - may be discouraging users from reporting them.

The cost of a day's rental of a lorry, including fuel, is about $200, but Mr Girginov said money was not an issue.

The challenges he does face include finding somewhere to park while he goes to collect the bikes.

Two bike-sharing companies here said they support Mr Girginov.

Mobike Singapore country manager Sharon Meng said the company was in touch with Mr Girginov to "build an even stronger bike-sharing environment" here.