Green Bike, Greener IIUM

By Nadhira Maizam

Recently, IIUM community has been introduced to another dockless bike hire system known as UNiRIDE, not long after oBike was launched in the university.

With modern technological and operational developments, both UNiRIDE and oBike employ bicycles with a lock that integrates a digital authentication codes to automatically lock and unlock the bikes.

Users can download the application in their smartphones from application store to hire bikes. These applications require users to credit certain amount of fees into their account before the bikes are at their taking – well there is no such thing as free lunch!

It is also worth mentioning that the bikes do not require a specific docking station as the designated apps work with GPSs to locate and rent bicycles.

Aimed at establishing a healthy environment

The main concept of sharing-bike system aims to establish a healthy environment in universities while at the same time providing a better accessibility for students and offer affordable transport for relatively short distances as an alternative to public transportation and private vehicles.

This initiative also focuses on initiating clean urban transport through implementation of Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) within the adjacency of the campus. It is a brilliant invention to encourage human powered transportation like walking and bicycling because they are very cost-effective and environmental friendly.

However, one major difference between oBike and UNiRIDE is the type of vehicles they offer to the users.

Before, oBike proffered students a regular bicycle. Now, UNiRIDE challenges oBike by distributing electric bikes instead of a regular bicycle.

In my opinion, since riding regular bicycle in campus is a dime a dozen and supplying electrical bicycle within the campus is once in a blue moon, this innovation will attract more users to try using the E-bikes and realise the purposes of offering both systems in the university.

Nevertheless, since the beginning of semester 2, 2018/2019, UNiRIDE has replaced oBike in the university compound as oBike has retracted its contract with IIUM. Hence, no oBike is available in the university area.

But, the renouncement of oBike does not negate the fact that IIUM students have gotten exposure to two bicycle-sharing systems. Therefore, it would be exciting to identify which bike suits students’ preference most. In other words, which one is easier to commute?

Which one is better – oBike or UNiRIDE?

A total of 41 out of 49 students of IIUM Gombak campus prefer using UNiRIDE to travel within IIUM campus. Interestingly, majority of them gave similar reason to choose UNiRIDE to commute inside the campus.

The most frequent answer from the students is due to the fact that they do not have to peddle when using UNiRIDE. As a matter of fact, IIUM Gombak has hilly roads. Thus, if one has to cycle to class, it means that they have to cycle up and down the hills. Henceforth, they refuse to take oBike because they have to turn pedals, later stain their attire with sweat, and ruin their look for the day! Definitely not something one wants to sign up for.  

Contrarily, E-bikes are created to augment human power but not replacing it entirely. Hence, students can commute faster to their destinations without having to invest much energy except for controlling the handle of the bike — clearly to avoid from suddenly being in the drain or river.

E-bikes are equipped with a small motor to substitute the cycler’s pedal power when climbing up the roads in campus. It reduces the exhaustion when facing obstacles like hills and headwind and allows you to shuttle between place to place or travel further without getting extremely tired.

Quoting one of the users’ opinions, “I have to walk to class every day and it is so tiring. With E-bike, I can reach the destination faster without having to walk or peddle especially on a hot and sunny day,” Aminah Ahmed said.

This brings us to another point, riding UNiRIDE will shorten the amount of time students need to spend when commuting to the destinations if compared to walking or cycling regular bicycle.

E-bikes can move at a faster speed considering its nature using electrical power to increase velocity of the bicycle. So, students do not have to leave earlier than early to reach classes or other places if they take UNiRIDE.

Referring to Aminah’s opinion, weather also plays a vital role on the selection of E-bike over a regular bicycle. Students do not want to be under the sun for a long time; sometimes it can cause terrible headache, sunburns, and discomfort from the over excessive sweating.

Saved from entrapping in traffic congestion

On the other hand, riding bicycle itself may save students from entrapping themselves in traffic congestion in campus especially during peak hours; early morning and late afternoon. It also lessens the aggravation students need to bear when they are in rush but have to wait for the bus.

Most importantly, electrical bike is one of the energy efficient vehicles that could give a meaningful contribution to creating a greener Malaysia. Save Mother Earth! Because Malaysia is a newly industrialising country, it has to deal with increasing air pollution that is also generated by transport.

Consequently, environment is contaminated with exhaust emissions that harbour health dangers on living beings. For that reason, UNiRIDE takes baby steps to reduce pollution emissions from vehicles and elevate air quality which will create a greener IIUM, Malaysia, and Earth.

Hence, green bike greener Earth! Additionally, according to the UNiRIDE website, the team intends to make universities in Malaysia friendlier to the nature, letting the users to enjoy their time with environment conveniently. Students can use UNiRIDE to travel in campus for sightseeing and recreation while having me-time or bonding with friends.

 For your information, UNiRIDE covers every rider with insurance up to RM150. When comparing the fee and fare per journey, the users will notice that UNiRIDE charges more than oBike. Nevertheless, the charge is reasonable considering the fact that UNiRIDE regulates an insurance policy if E-bike rider happens to involve in accident.

Not-so-gentle-reminders 

If you could recall, oBike was greater in number than UNiRIDE. The bikes were made available at almost every department building, hostel and central area to ease students’ life at campus. Nonetheless, to our disappointment, the bikes were vandalised and indiscriminately parked not at their designated stops.

We can claim Malaysia to be one of the developing countries in the world, but students’ lackadaisical behaviours and attitudes proved us the otherwise — we are still trapped in a labyrinth of third class mentality. This is ashamed. Not only the university, but to humanity.

Students should learn to appreciate the facilities that have been provided in the university. As glorious as the name of the university, IIUMians carry responsibility not only as a student but as a Muslim altogether. Islam teaches us to treat environment with full of care and manner and thereby students’ actions should be parallel to what Islam upholds. This is not rocket science.

All in all, since it does not cost kidney to do good and to be kind, here are some tips on how to handle public facilities correctly. Best of luck!

Image courtesy: UNiRIDE
Image courtesy: UNiRIDE
Image courtesy: UNiRIDE

For more information, you can visit website https://uniride.com.my/

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