|Hangzhou's bike "graveyard".|
Tens of thousands of shared bikes parked on an empty field in Hangzhou City, capital of East China’s Zhejiang Province, June 26, 2017. Hangzhou authorities have temporarily suspended the use of more than 20,000 shared bikes found in violation of traffic rules, including improper parking. Companies that own the bikes have not been active in getting them back. (Photo/VCG)
Firstly, what is the problem? Users are not parking the bikes properly? What is "properly" when there is no space? What is properly when all lots have been taken up or all the space in the yellow box is filled up? Want the Bike Sharing Companies to build docking stations? For how many bikes? Say they build 20 at a location, but 40 bikes come and need space to park. Or they build 10 docks and there are NO bikes there, but the docks continue to take up space even when empty. The problem is that there are TOO MANY so-called SHARED BIKES.
Why? Because the manufacturers of these bikes are making money making and selling bikes to Bike Sharing Co. Ironically, I saw this on one of the shared bikes: "Consume less. Share more."
Except "bike sharing" ISN'T sharing. It's renting.
And because of these companies, the manufacturers are making MORE bikes than if people were to buy their own bikes.
And these bike sharing co are making money NOT from renting or sharing bikes (currently the rental is ZERO dollars for the initial 2 hours - from my last check. Promo over yet?). They are making money from INVESTORS. If the bikes are earning them money, don't you think they would take more care of the bikes? But the fact that bikes are abandoned for weeks and months and they don't recover and repair them tells us that they have too many bikes. That are not in use. So what's another 20 or more abandoned and damaged bikes? Why bother to recover them? Why spend money to recover them, repair them, and then provide free "rental" during this promotional period.
Second, how is the BSCo going to control their customers? Force them to park in docking station or fine them? If one BSC does that, the "customers" will move to another BSC. If all of them do that, the customers will consider - do I want a free bike to use, but then have to pay a huge fine when I arrive at my destination and cannot find a proper place to park? Better just take the bus.
Google "bikes graveyard" and look at the images. And ask, why aren't the BSCo recovering their bikes? Aren't those bikes worth anything to them? And the answer that suggests itself (from those pictures) is, obviously not.
Look at those pictures and ask, would we eventually have THAT MANY unwanted, abandoned, unused and unusable bikes in Singapore? And if so, is the problem getting users to park the bikes "properly"? If you still think that, please stop reading now.
The problem is that there are too many bikes. For every one person I see riding a shared bike, I see 3 to 5 parked and abandoned bikes (a conservative estimate). How many bikes are there and what is the usage of those bikes on a per day basis? Bike sharing should REDUCE the number of bikes. Instead the number of bikes have exploded, and most are NOT in use.
So the solution is 1) Stop the BSCo from importing any more bikes unless they have a) proper docking, or b) proper monitoring and recovery for their bikes in SG. Maybe require them to have a piece of land for a "graveyard" for their abandoned bikes. Or c) they have a "clean" record of tracking and recovering indiscriminately parked or abandoned bikes. That is, their bikes are NOT causing a nuisance.
2) Have a recovery process for the abandoned bikes in SG that does not depend on the BSCo to take action. Crowdsource the solution. Get our can and cardboard aunties and uncles to collect and recycle the abandoned bikes.
3) De-register and disallow BSCo from operating if they have too many violations/indiscriminately parked bicycles. This can be gradated - Restrict the number of bikes they are allowed to operate with gradually, increasing the restrictions as the BSCo fails to meet operating requirements successively.
4) Have a plan for the number of shared bikes that we will allow in SG. When the number of bikes are controlled, each bike becomes more valuable as an "asset" (rent-earning asset).
5) Tax each additional bike brought in (why not?) beyond an approved number. And charge a disposal fee for each bike scrapped.
6) If the BSCo sets up bike-repair centres and hire older workers (45 and above) to service and repair bikes and they create enough jobs for 20 Singaporeans, they will be given permits for more bikes.