Bike-sharing services offer more than just a ride.
I’M sure many of you will have come across dockless bicycles placed at strategic places such as the LRT or MRT stations, bus stops or tourist attractions around Kuala Lumpur and other places in the Klang Valley.
The aim of these bicycles is to provide last mile connectivity for public transport.
Two major companies providing this bicycle-sharing service in the Klang Valley is Mobike and oBike.
While the concept may look ordinary, underneath the simple idea is a high-tech mechanism.
In fact, Mobike, which hails from China, claims it is a technology company.
Mobike vice-president of international expansion Chris Martin says bike-sharing services aimed to transform cityscapes via an urban mobility concept.
“We are doing this by re-imagining and re-inventing the technology for cycling,” he says.
A SERVICE BASED ON IOT
If one looks at the business model, it’s just a bicycle renting service. The technology behind it makes it special.
Companies such as Mobike achieved this transformation by creating a new business model: an Internet of Things-based (IoT) intelligent bike-sharing platform.
“We designed and produced our own bicycles to incorporate all relevant technologies such as GPS, smart lock, etc,” says Martin.
Using specially designed bicycles equipped with high-tech technology, Mobike enables users to find a bicycle near them, reserve it and subsequently unlock it, all using a smartphone app.
On reaching one’s destination, the user parks the bicycle at any bicycle-friendly location and locks it, automatically making it available to the next rider.
“This dockless bicycle-sharing platform provides bicycles on demand nearly everywhere in the city — eliminating the hassle of bicycle ownership and greatly exceeding the convenience and accessibility offered by traditional bike-sharing programmes limited by combination locks and custom-parking stations,” adds Martin.
Fot its IoT business model, Mobike has re-designed the bicycle to be a high quality shareable asset for urban residents.
For a bicycle to be placed in the open space, exposed to the elements constantly and used by many people, it needs to be tough.
To meet these challenges, Mobike worked on a series of innovations, such as a chainless shaft transmission, non-puncture airless tyres, a lightweight anti-rust aluminum frame, enhanced and durable disk brakes and an automobile-inspired five-spoke wheel.
“These functional design elements result in an extremely easy-to-use, durable and maintenance-free bicycle. This translates to four years of repair-free cycling,” says Martin.
Bike-sharing services such as Mobike is founded upon the commitment of being responsible, sustainable and innovative.
The company works closely with city governments to define a tailored model for each city.
Currently, Mobike bicycles are found in Setia Alam. This week, it will offer the service in Cyberjaya.
“Malaysia is embarking on an exciting path to achieve an efficient, integrated and sustainable public transport system. We envision that Mobike’s dockless and convenient bike-sharing service will grow in tandem with the nation’s push to redefine the transportation sector for a sustainable and well-connected country,” says Martin.
Malaysia is the third country in Southeast Asia after Thailand and Singapore to welcome Mobike’s operations.
“We plan to move to other areas within this year, to central Kuala Lumpur and other parts of the country,” says Martin.
Mobike currently has a presence in 170 cities worldwide, including UK’s Manchester with 1,000 bikes, Italy’s Florence (4,000 bikes) and Milan (8,000 bikes).
“We are the first bike-share company to implement a credit system that encourages proper bike-share etiquette,” says Martin.
HOW MOBIKE WORKS
Bike-sharing services relieve congestion, reduce pollution and provide a simple and cost-effective mobility solution in urban areas.
They work in tandem with an app. In Mobike’s case, the app needs to be downloaded first.
Upon account registration, users are given 100 credit points. Points are awarded to users who have been using the bike responsibly, such as parking in designated parking zones or in accordance with the city’s bike-parking regulations.
“This way, we are educating users on parking more responsibly while improving convenience for the entire community of Mobikers,” says Martin.
“In August, we implemented our ‘Mobike Hub’ Smart Mobike Preferred Location (sMPL) system — dedicated parking zones that have low-powered Bluetooth technology supporting sub-meter level positioning so that we can monitor the real-time locations and overall status of our bicycles within the zones,” he says.
This platform also provides operations personnel with instructions for the delivery, scheduling, operation and maintenance of the bikes, thereby increasing operational efficiency and lowering costs.
Leveraging its technology expertise, the company has developed Magic Cube, an artificial intelligence platform that provides intelligent solutions to the most pressing traffic and transport challenges.
The AI platform enables Mobike to integrate and analyse hundreds of variables, including weather, time of day, location, crowd patterns, and supply and demand trends, resulting in highly accurate predictive models that can be used to enhance operating efficiency.
“Our team receives notification immediately and Magic Cube helps to dispatch a team member to address the issue, while users are rewarded with credits for their help,” says Martin.
REDUCED CARBON EMISSION
The platform has currently more than 100 million registered users around the world. Mobike currently operates a fleet of over seven million bikes and complete up to 25 million trips daily.
By making urban cycling more accessible, popular and smart, Mobike is delivering scaled sustainable mobility solutions to people and cities around the world and the benefits are impressive.
According to a joint research by Mobike and Tsinghua University’s China New Urbanisation Research Institute released in May this year, since the introduction of bike sharing services in China, cycling has doubled in usage over the last year, accounting for 11.6 per cent of total transportation today versus just 5.5 per cent of overall transportation a year ago.
Car trips among users have also fallen by 3.2 per cent to 26.6 per cent over the same period.
The use of private car services and illegal auto rickshaws has also decreased significantly following the growth of bike-sharing services.
Besides that, users can also track the distance they have cycled and the routes taken over the years.
“For townships and cities, the data can be used to point or suggest if there is a need for a new bus route in that areas,” says Martin.
As of August this year, Mobike users have collectively cycled over 5.6 billion kilometres, equivalent to reducing CO2 emissions by more than 1.26 million tonnes or taking 350,000 cars off the road for a year, based on calculations by WWF China with regards to Mobike’s first year of operations.
In June this year, Mobike received WWF’s Climate Solver Sustainable Urban Mobility Special Award in recognition of the impact its innovative technology and promotion of sustainable transport.