Bike-sharing companies play down reports of misuse of bicycles
Bike abuse cases 'in the minority'
One was pictured dumped in a canal. Another was filmed as it was thrown about and stomped on while others have been painted over.
Reports about bike-sharing bicycles being chained up, damaged or tampered with have dominated the news recently.
Despite the proliferation of bicycle abuse reports on social media, bike-sharing companies here say that the number of such cases is "very small".
Home-grown oBike, the first bike-sharing company here, told The New Paper that only 1 per cent of its fleet has been reported to be damaged, while 2 per cent of its bicycles have been recovered after being "indiscriminately parked".
An oBike spokesman told TNP: "We have a few thousand bikes in our fleet, but only a very small number actually have any problems or have any kind of incidents."
On Wednesday, an oBike bicycle was spotted partially submerged in a Punggol canal.
Pictures of the bike were first posted by citizen journalism website Stomp on Thursday.
As of yesterday, Stomp's post has been viewed more than 2,000 times.
In response to TNP's queries, oBike general manager, Mr Elgin Ee, said: "We are investigating the matter and are in the process of lodging a police report.
"While cases of bicycle abuse are in the minority, we would like to urge all oBike users to treat our bicycles with care just as they would their own."
Singapore's two other bike-sharing companies, China-based ofo and Mobike, have also told TNP in previous reports that problematic bicycle incidents are few and far between.
In a previous report, an ofo representative told TNP: "Overall, these are rare cases.
"They get attention because bike sharing is still a new thing in Singapore."
Mr Jefri Johari, one of oBike's roving service technicians, attends to at least 30 incidents each day, and said it is uncommon to find bicycles that need drastic repairs.
"Quite a number of times, the reports we receive make the problems seem very big, but when I take a look at the bike, it's just a minor problem that can be fixed easily," he said.
Explaining why the misuse of bike-sharing bicycles has gone viral on social media, National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der-Horng said: "Everything is so orderly here, and the abuse of bike-sharing bicycles is not something that the general public can accept."
Dr Lee said the bike-sharing companies are doing a good job of reminding users to treat bicycles well, but felt that "active management and enforcement" is what is necessary to prevent further abuse.
He highlighted the importance of being able to track each individual bicycle and the necessity of a dynamic monitoring system - which both Mobike and oBike have in place.
Mr Ee said oBike recently launched a credit scoring system to encourage positive riding behaviour.
Under the system, users with more credits will be rewarded with incentives, while those with zero credits will be banned from using the service.
When a user is using one of its bicycles, oBike's interface highlights designated parking areas where riders can leave their bicycles, so they do not park indiscriminately.
In March, the Land Transport Authority reminded the public that bike-sharing bicycles must be parked in designated spaces, and that they must not be left in areas that will cause any inconvenience, obstruction or danger to others.
In a media release, it said: "Strict enforcement action will be taken against all indiscriminately parked bicycles.
"This includes impounding of the bicycles and heavy fines, including against dockless bicycle-sharing system operators, and if necessary, regulatory action as well."
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