Riding the bike-sharing craze in Malaysia

Both Mobike and Ofo are cycling towards exciting times


There are two things you will likely not forget — your first love, and how to ride a bike. It stays with you. Some of us still have the scars from those nasty falls.

So, the idea of putting bikes at public places for rent is not too much of an alien concept. Most of us have pedalled these two-wheeled vehicles.

Today, the bike-sharing concept is already making waves in the country. While it may be new to many, the concept has been around since the 1970s.

In some countries, it is not just about renting bikes. In France, the country that gave birth to the bike- rent scheme in 1974, the bikes do more than help consumers to travel from one point to another. The electricity generated from these electric bikes when they are being pedalled, is sold to the national grid.

Worries of global warming, pollution and environmental issues are pedalling bike-sharing to prominence.

Over the last few months, a growing number of bike-share schemes have been introduced in Malaysia. Rising fuel prices, gridlock traffic and expensive parking charges make bike-sharing a viable alternative. More and more people are putting their feet to the pedal.

Mobike Malaysia country manager Sanjey Chandran said more people are enjoying riding the bicycles to get to their destination.

“People love it. It is evident in the number of rides completed daily across 180 cities. We have seen 30 million rides so far,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

Mobike operates in more than 180 cities across China, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Italy, the UK, and the US, with a fleet of over seven million smart Mobikes.

It was founded by Hu Weiwei, Davis Wang and Joe Xia in Beijing — one of the most polluted cosmopolitans in the world.

Their aims were to bring bikes into more cities, employ innovative technologies, make cycling convenient and reduce the pollution problems faced in major cities.

Launched in Malaysia on Sept 6, 2017, through a partnership with property developer SP Setia Bhd, the company is currently focusing on bike-sharing services for Setia Alam with 600 bikes and Cyberjaya (110 bikes).

As Simple as Riding Bikes

It is a simple concept, said Sanjey, and everyone should try it. Although the bikes may be the same, but the back- end technology is far from just a line or two of coding.

“Using innovation and technology, we built an Internet of Things-based intelligent bike-sharing plat- form that eliminates the hassles of bicycle ownership.

“Our advanced technology makes the ride experience incredibly convenient for consumers. They just scan a QR code and can immediately ride away.

“We leverage proprietary tracking and GPS technology embedded in the bikes to create a sophisticated and highly adaptable solution to the last-mile transport challenge,” said Sanjey.

Users only need to register with a one-time fully refundable deposit and they are off with the bike in their hands.

He said the bike-sharing concept has increased connectivity for the community, encouraged healthy living and ensured environmental sustainability.

As of August this year, Mobike users have collectively cycled 5.6 billion kilometres. That is equivalent to 509,000 rounds across the face of the moon, or the distance from Earth to Pluto.

“This distant is equivalent to reducing more than 1.26 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, or taking 350,000 cars off the road for a year based on calculations by World Wildlife Fund China,” he said.

Ofo, which started off in Melaka in August 2017, is a Beijing-born idea. Since it was founded in 2014, the company has expanded into 15 countries including Malaysia.

A spokesperson for Ofo said this service is a convenient, affordable and low-carbon way to travel.

The service improves the urban transport environment by reducing traffic congestion, saving energy and promoting better living.

The positive response received by the company had prompted it to expand into the country’s administrative capital of Putrajaya at the end of August this year.

“We have deployed about 500 bicycles and have set up about five points for parking places. In Putrajaya, we have about 300 bicycles and are currently working with the government to set up parking places,” Ofo said.

Ofo’s service works in a somewhat similar way to a ride-sharing app, where one can download the app and put in credit card details, while looking for the nearest location a bicycle may be parked at.

Getting the Authorities on Board

There is little denying how such a bike-sharing concept can improve future living. But companies like Mobike and Ofo, like any business venture, require local approval.

Recent reports that the bike-sharing companies had not received the required approval has kicked a dent to the concept.

“In Malaysia, we entered Cyberjaya with the support of the Sepang Municipal Council and Cyberview Sdn Bhd, a government-owned company.

“We also partnered with Malaysian businesses like SP Setia, a highly regarded Malaysian real estate developer, and MasterCard Malaysia,” Sanjey said.

Moreover, Ofo is working closely with the local councils and the government.

Both Mobike and Ofo are cycling towards exciting times. Consumers around the world are seeing the bene- fits of this service.

“We are on track to be in more than 200 cities around the world by 2018. We believe that the growth of the global bike-sharing market shows how people are eager to embrace cycling as a convenient, flexible, and affordable first- and last-mile travel solution,” he said.

Ofo said it will continue to remain sustainable as long as they hit the right number of rides per bicycle.

The bike-sharing services are expected to be a prominent feature in the country’s landscape.