Local bicycle-sharing company Anywheel has announced that they have implemented a new measure to deal with users who have been misusing their bicycles.
It stated in a Facebook post on Dec 6 that it has hired enforcers to go after those who have been "stealing, personal locking, and tampering with their bikes".
This measure came after Anywheel received complaints from users regarding the misuse of their bicycles. The company told Lianhe Wanbao that 234 bicycles were stolen or tampered in the month of April.
For the past six months, it received about 40 daily reports of people using their bicycles for personal reasons. Most of these bicycles were chained or left abandoned outside flats, void decks, stairways or alleys.
Anywheel then decided to intervene, and recently hired a team of enforcers.
These plain-clothed enforcers will be patrolling on foot and "approach suspects to check if they have unlocked their bicycle through their application", a representative from the company told AsiaOne.
These enforcers are trained to "identify bicycle tempering and private locking signs", Anywheel said. Should the suspect fail to prove that a bicycle was hired on its application, they will alert the police.
Within a week of implementing the new measure, the team has caught several errant users. In one instance, they found five of them in six hours.
Anywheel added that they found it "surprisingly easy" to do so since many of the suspects felt "very guilty of their actions". These errant users would then be handed over to the police while the company would pursue further legal action to claim damages.
Noting that the majority of those who were caught misusing the bicycles were not patrons of its service, the company added that it will ban the accounts of users who were found to have done so.
Responses to the new measure have been largely positive. Commenting on Anywheel's Facebook post, many netizens expressed their frustrations using the bike-sharing service, where missing bicycles prevented some of them from being able to book a ride on the app.
Another netizen also gave some sound advice to users on proper usage of the shared bicycles so as not to inconvenience future users.
However, there were some who raised concerns about Anywheel's enforcers. For instance, some questioned the process of the enforcement, as well as the background of these enforcers.
Others also raised concerns of the possible interpretations of the measure, especially so for delivery riders who may have to leave their bicycles temporarily while making deliveries.
In response to these concerns, Anywheel said that users would then have to re-hire the bicycle, and repeat the usual process of scanning the QR code on the bicycle to unlock it. If the bicycles are left unlocked, the timer will continue to run at the meter rate of 50 cents per 30 minutes.
Following the success of the enforcement trial, the company said it will be hiring more enforcers to curb such irresponsible behaviour.
"There is nothing to worry about if a person pays to use our service through our app and has no intentions to keep the bicycles for their private use", the representative told AsiaOne.
"We seek to provide our loyal users with good bicycle sharing service by minimizing, if not eradicating, such unlawful behaviour. The people in Singapore deserve better".
In July, the company was allowed to expand its fleet from 10,000 to 15,000.