Enough is enough | Why Like Dat?
May 25, 2017

Photo: allchinatech.com

Ofo’s has had enough! The Chinese bike company has decided Singaporeans don’t deserve good things and have done away with their deposit and penalty-free system when using their bikes.

The three bike companies – Ofo, Mobike and Obike – all operate via a dockless bicycle-sharing system and have different rental rates and some sort of penalty system in place to prevent the abuse of their bikes.

All except one – Ofo. To make matters worse, Ofo’s rental rates have always been low and coupled with their slew of promotional rates that sometimes allow riders to ride for free over the weekends, they have become a target of abuse for ungrateful Singaporeans.

The abuse of these poor bikes have left them in strange places. They have been found in drains and even in trees! People have even attempted to claim them as their own by chaining them to their homes and even painting over them.

And you wonder why Singaporeans don’t deserve good stuff. Now see la. See what you all have done. We can all kiss goodbye to cheap rentals from Ofo.

Just yesterday, Ofo announced changes to their bikes and app, aiming to prevent abuse and improve riders’ experience. 500 new bikes will be rolled out with new features matching their rivals such as smart locks. Currently they are unlocked via a number lock.

The number lock is part of the reason why Ofo bikes are always prone to abuse because the number combination never changes, allowing riders to use the bikes without even logging into the app.

These new bikes will also be GPS-enabled, unlike their predecessors. This will allow users to located the bikes via the app. Geo-fencing technology will be incorporated as well, according to an Ofo spokesman, which will “lead users to park within designated areas”.

On top of all these, Ofo is introducing a one-time deposit of $39 on registration, finally putting them in line with the other two companies.

All these changes are fine and dandy. In fact I even welcome it. I don’t want to see anymore of these bikes hanging up in trees anymore (how did it even end up there??).

But just as Ofo and the rest of the bike-sharing companies are settling in, Channel NewsAsia reported that 15 town councils are coming up with measures to ensure responsible riding. It includes towing away errantly parked bikes and having operators to bear the cost of retrieving and storing these bikes.

How can the bike-sharing economy flourish like this? All three companies are operating on a dockless system for their bikes which means bikes are bound to be found parked everywhere instead of a designated area. The town councils should give these companies more time to work around this problem and not make an earning off the mistakes of their riders!

Geo-fencing technology will help ensure riders return the bikes to a designated area but technology like this require some time before it functions smoothly. And since the original plan of the government was to implement a bike-sharing system, which has now been brought to fruition by private companies, shouldn’t they help them out instead of penalising them?

The government should work alongside these companies to develop the tech or measures to enhance the system, not make it more difficult for the companies to operate. This is one of the main reasons why the sharing economy (think AirBnB, Uber, Grab) will always find it difficult to operate here.

The gains it will bring to Singapore is immeasurable, but if the Singapore government choose to work against them, then they only have themselves to blame when they lose out.

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