Will Malaysians cycle to their destinations? This startup thinks so
Automologist LING is sceptical yet hopeful that Malaysians will adopt cycling as their last mile solution.
The last time I cycled anywhere was in Bruges while on holiday, and I crashed into a road sign. The sign and I survived with some bruises and no one saw. Clearly, I don’t do well on two wheels (read: Motorbike Taxis take to the streets of Kuala Lumpur), but I’m cautiously optimistic to hear that Singapore’s oBike has launched its bicycle sharing app in Malaysia. The service was just launched in Singapore back in January and extended the service to its neighbour (us) last Saturday.
Speaking to The Independent, oBike’s representative said that the service was developed to help people save “time and energy while avoiding traffic jams in Klang Valley”. I’d like to believe that oBike is the miracle solution to the “last mile” problem. Just the other day, I had to attend a meeting at Bangunan Yayasan Tun Razak on Jalan Bukit Bintang; it took me two hours to get there via public transport; if there was a quicker way to get to the LRT station and then from the station where I disembarked to Bangunan YTR – in short, the “first and last mile” – the travel time could have been cut by half.
You can use the oBike app to search for, reserve and unlock the bicycle. An initial deposit is required and the company is currently offering a promo, collecting a deposit of only RM49 instead of RM109, or RM19 instead of RM49 for students. It subsequently costs only RM1 for every 15 minutes, a very affordable rental fee if you ask me.
In Malaysia, you can park the bike anywhere (the company describes it as a “stationless bike sharing” service). As convenient as the app sounds, I could give you a long list of problems that I foresee, but you can read the main ones in this Vulcan Post article, which covers the non-existent bicycle infrastructure, the hot and rainy weather, and the local’s attitude towards public property, ie. no respect whatsoever.
I’ll just explain my scepticism with this photo of our Pahang MB emulating Boris Johnson just last week:
Clearly the MB knew how dangerous it is for a cyclist on current roads because he had two police escorts and an ambulance tailing him. As he merrily rode the bike home for lunch during a break in the State Assembly Sitting, traffic was held up behind him at a 16kph crawl.
Still, I am hoping for a “first and last” mile solution and perhaps oBike will help pave the way for better infrastructure and road users’ attitude towards cyclists. But even then, I still can’t promise that road signs will be safe from me while I am on two wheels.
image: Free Malaysia Today, World of Buzz