Thursday, 15 June 2017

(The Star) Bike-sharing service already has 20,000 users

The bike-sharing app oBike now has 20,000 users who are charged RM1 every 15 minutes.

oBike (M) Sdn Bhd marketing manager Elaine Chan said most of the bikes could be found in public spaces, particularly in parts of Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya.

“We focus on areas where there is a demand for bicycles.

“About 40% of our users are tertiary students, so many of our bicycles can be found at educational institutions, student-populated residential areas, bus and train stations, cafes and their surrounding areas.

“The bicycles can be parked at any public space accessible to others, provided they do not obstruct traffic or pedestrian walkways.

“However, we will relocate the bicycles to more suitable places for the convenience of other users,” she said.

Chan added that there were two types of city bikes – a 22kg bicycle with basket and headlight and a 14kg bicycle that comes without the two features.

“The bicycles have GPS for easy tracking and tubeless tyres to prevent them from puncturing.

“During registration, users are required to pay a one-time refundable deposit.

“They can then locate the nearest bike via the app and reserve it. Reservation is only for 10 minutes.

“Users need to scan the QR code on the bike using the app to unlock it and begin riding.

“At the end of the ride, users should park the bicycle at an appropriate place and manually lock it to stop the charges.

“Every user is rewarded with points for each ride which can be accumulated to get cheaper rides in the future.

“However, those who break the rules, like parking haphazardly or bringing it to undesignated areas will lose points.

“Low points may result in a user being blacklisted from using the bikes again,” she said.

Chan said they are in talks with local authorities on allocating parking space for the bikes.

“It can be either a council parking bay at commercial areas or a small space at residential areas and we may fence it with a geofence.

“But until that is finalised, users can park at any suitable spot.

“There have been no cases of vandalism as Malaysians are generally civic-minded.”

Chan acknowledged there have been some glitches, including users still being charged despite locking the bike.

“This happened because of communication network problems.

“With the GPS tracker, we will be able to track the movement of the bike and any extra charges will be refunded.

Chan said the app’s navigation system, which used Google Maps, did not have a voice function to guide users to the bicycle.

“It can only show you where the bike is,” she said.

“We are still at the infancy stage and are open to suggestions for improvement.

“There is a tab on the app to file a report and users can also get in touch with us via Facebook,” she said, adding the ride-sharing service which started in Singapore is also available in Taiwan.