oBike bicycles in Kuala Lumpur.

OVER the last few months, a number of bicycle-sharing companies have begun operations in Malaysia.

You may have already seen the yellow-and-silver oBike bicycles parked all over the Klang Valley.

oBike, which claims to offer a “first and last mile” transportation solution, has amassed a reported 100,000 users. The company, founded in Singapore, has since spread to 10 countries in Europe and Asia. It is giving a special offer to users in Malaysia with a one-time refundable deposit of RM49 for adults or RM19 for students until end of this month.

Both Melaka and Penang already have bike-sharing providers, with Basikal OFO Melaka Eco Green and LinkBike, respectively.

Last week, Mobike was the latest company to start operations in Malaysia.

Malaysia is the third country in Southeast Asia for the Chinese-based company, after Thailand and Singapore earlier this year.

The proliferation of bike-sharing outfits in Malaysia may spell good news for commuters who wish to cycle around the city.

And with a hundred thousand users, and enough usage, will it spur local councils and the relevant authorities to start building more bicycle lanes around the city?

It would, to a certain degree, said cycling advocate, Jeffrey Lim.

“As a matter of fact any bike share system will. But it is dependent on many factors,” he said.

Anyone who has tried to commute by bicycle knows the current state of affairs in the Klang Valley when it comes to bike lanes.

“Kuala Lumpur doesn’t really have bicycle lanes,” said Selangor BMX coach and bike shop owner Muhd Sanusi Kamarul Azha.

Most people would use the oBike bicycles on the sidewalks, he added.

However, the existence of the bicycles has added a measure of convenience to users, which could also spur cycling.

“The bicycles are placed at many locations. Last week, when I went to Kuala Lumpur, I used these bikes. They are very convenient,” he added.

However, Sanusi said users needed to be responsible when using the bicycles.

“I have seen them park the bicycles all over the place, even in front of escalators,” he said.

This might lead local councils to impound the bicycles, as was happening in China, he added.

“The pricing is good and the young are using them, but we need to educate the people on the proper way to use them,” he added.

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