Commentary Local

Gojek and bike-sharing – benefits or more downside?

TheMole
Written by TheMole

Aug 22, 2019

By Shahrim Tamrin

Whether we like it or not, our next door neighbour popular ride-sharing concept Gojek or motorbike sharing will be introduced in the next couple of months, most probably by first quarter of next year, the earliest.

Looking at the speed of approval by Cabinet this week, two days after Gojek presented its business framework to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and Transport Minister Anthony Loke, one can’t help but wonder whether the young politician Syed Saddiq in particular and rest of the Cabinet Ministers ever heard about the alarming rate of fatalities and crashes involving motorcycles.

In the road safety circle, many are worried that by offering Gojek or creating a new public transport mode in the form of motorbike-sharing is an open invitation for more fatalities.

It is plain to see from the statistics of road crashes, injuries and deaths by police over the years, ride-sharing using motorcycle is not the most excellent idea.

From the deaths statistics involving motorcycle users during the hours of commuting to work from 2015 until 2017, there were 2,564 deaths from 6.01 a.m until 10 a.m while the peak hour riding home between 4.01 p.m until 10 p.m, it recorded 4,695 deaths.

For overall total deaths figure involving motorbikes, a total of 1,152 pillion riders alongside 11,884 bikers perished on the roads from 2015 to 2017.

From 2008 to 2017, there were 5.17 million crashes for all type of vehicles with an average of 73 per cent incidents involved were motorbikes.  

Last year alone, nearly 70 per cent of road crashes involved motorcycles from the total annual crash statistics of 548,598 recorded overall.

While the government is keen to create jobs for youth and ‘rakyat’, Youth and Sports Ministry and Transport Ministry should also take a good look at the grim three-year statistics of the economic losses due to fatalities involving motorcycles.

Based on a comprehensive study by Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros), it is estimated that the economic losses and damages due to fatalities (injuries and deaths) involving motorcycle users from 2015 to 2017 were RM18.15 billion.

While we are eager to create benefits for ‘rakyat marhaen’ (ordinary folks), we also might create more damages.

I have already accepted the fact that there are politicians who want to be the spokesperson for a foreign brand and that’s how it is in the country nowadays.

I guess job creation for youth is far more important than saving lives of our future CEO, future entrepreneurs, prospective tech-venture and future Imam.

Upon receiving the news that Go-Jek received the nod from Cabinet yesterday, Sabariah Mohamad, a retired Associate Professor in Transport and Logistics Studies from Malaysia Institute of Transport (Mitrans) told me: “We are going backward in mobility policy and planning.”

“We are not solving access and mobility problems of the urban populations but rather creating more problems including social and environmental,” she said in a WhatsApp message. “We need mobility strategic planning.”

This could be blessing in disguise for safer roads

It is clear that those concerned about saving a soul on the road can’t stop the decision to bring in Gojek or starting a motorbike-sharing in the cities and suburban areas.

However, what we can do is to offer solution and caution the government about the safety risk surrounding motorcycle rides and improving the safety aspects of motorbike-sharing by imposing stringent safety and security elements in the licensing condition. There is no two-way about it.

The authorities must apply firm and stern measure based on the input from public transport experts and road safety advocates.

Personally, I feel this could be blessing in disguise since now we can suggest to the authorities that Go-Jek or motorbike-sharing riders must only be limited to 5km radius of operation from the public transport hub such as the LRT/Monorail/MRT/KTM or bus stations.

The daily travelling pattern can be monitored via the app tracking of the ehailing company and riders should undergo safety classes and must provide good examples by adhering to road rules and behaving well or else, they should not be offering a public transport service to public.

I believe Miros can provide input about set of safe riding values that Land Public Transport Agency (APAD) and Road Transport Department (RTD) should impose to the bike-sharing riders.

A speed limit of 70 km/h, to ride only on left lane and glowing safety vest like the green colour used by Go-Jek riders in Jakarta will shape discipline journey and allow effective monitoring.

There should also be a certain vehicle-type approval (VTA) or the appropriate type of motorbike for the rider to operate.

This is a golden opportunity for Gojek and other local e-hailing app provider to start incentive for riders to own or lease electric scooters or electric bike with top speed of not more than 70 km/h.

Gojek and local bike-sharing companies could pave the way to be the pioneer in introducing a new type of motorcycle in Malaysia by phasing out the powerful and nimble ‘kapcai’ and replacing it with electric scooter.

This is also a golden opportunity to realise what was discussed at the National Transport Policy workshop held at Transport Ministry recently for low-carbon cities by banning single-rider or individual biker to enter city centre and the possibility to impose city congestion charge to single-occupancy vehicle including motorcycles and private cars.

The objective is simple – if one wants to enter central KL during peak hours for example, one must use the public transport or else be ready to pay an additional road toll. This should be the standard affair in the future.

Now that Gojek is coming into the picture, starting next year bike-sharing riders should only be allowed to exist in central business district and they must be registered via app to stay in the city, say within 5km to 7km radius.

From now on, we just need to look at the bright side to make bike-sharing as a safe option for last-mile first-mile connectivity.

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TheMole

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