Man from Bulgaria is S'pore's damaged rental bike vigilante & the hero we all need

Finally some rescue efforts for these poor abused shared bikes.

Zhangxin Zheng | December 10, 2017, 08:18 PM

If you’re an active rental bike user, you've probably seen enough bikes getting trashed and/or damaged deliberately like this and this. Just to name two of a ton.

Otherwise, you’ll definitely have faced the frustration of going through damaged bike after damaged bike until you finally find one that is in decent condition.

Damaged rental bikes have become a ubiquitous sight in Singapore, sadly, but that's why what this guy we're about to introduce to you is doing is so important, and so awesome.

Meet Zhivko Girginov, also known as Jiv, a 32 year-old Bulgarian who has been living in Singapore for almost nine years.

Photo from Zhivko Girginov Facebook

He started a social initiative called Volunteer Bike Patrol after reporting more than 200 damaged — and rendered unusable — shared bikes through the oBike, ofo and Mobike apps in the first eight months of this year.

To his surprise (or perhaps not), he found that months later, many of these bikes he reported were still there, right where he had found and reported them, and accumulating rust and dirt.

Speaking to, he said he noticed that users were also treating the bicycles irresponsibly and recklessly.

"Some inconsiderate users will even throw them on grass patches, parks, pathways, void decks, drains. Once I came into a bike deliberately thrown on the floor in front of the door of the police center in my neighborhood.

These acts were probably spontaneously triggered by some social anger from residents who were annoyed by the eye-sore of those abandoned shared bikes. I heard lots of people complaining and read tons of comments in social media.

I was seeing that day after day more and more damaged bikes popped up while those that I had reported were still there. This triggered me to take action and I decided to rent a lorry, paying for it myself, and to collect those unattended bikes, starting from my neighborhood."

Volunteer Bike Patrol

Girginov started the initiative's Facebook page in September this year, which he uses to encourage volunteers to walk around their neighbourhood or any other area in Singapore to look out for damaged (to the point of being unusable) bikes.

If they should find any, all they have to do is take a screenshot of the location on any mapping app to show the details of where these bikes are and upload it to the Facebook group.


Giriginov will then hunt these bicycle corpses down and load them up on a lorry (that he rents with money from his own pocket) like what you see in the photo below:

Loading up bikes, one after another

Photo from Volunteer Bike Patrol Facebook

And here’s the lorry he rents, piled high with damaged oBikes:

Photo from Volunteer Bike Patrol Facebook

He then drives these to a centralised location for the bike company to collect within a four-hour window:

Photo from Volunteer Bike Patrol Facebook

Besides shaping a responsible bike-sharing community and tidying up our living spaces, volunteers on patrol can help to alert the authorities to other municipal issues they might observe on their walks via the "OneService" app.

No registration required either —  if you are free and interested, all you need to do is walk around the neighbourhood with your phone! It’s exactly like when you were playing Pokémon Go.

Shout-out to more volunteers

While there were several members of the public who showed interest in helping out, regretfully few have actually followed through. Girginov says he is almost always completely pangseh-ed:

"To be honest, it's only myself currently. Not that I want to emphasize on this. Despite having 50 people who have signed up as volunteers in the Volunteer Bike Patrol meet-up group, on the ‘raid days’ no one actually turns up, so I just retrieve bikes alone.

I can't cancel the event because I've already reserved the lorry in advance. I asked a friend to help me taking some video footages and photos of the retrieving process. As a matter of fact, one guy joined me for 2 hours on the raid last month (his name is Dennis Jeffries)."

Say hi to Dennis Jeffries, the volunteer who did not pangseh

Photo from Volunteer Bike Patrol Facebook

The good cause Girginov started will definitely need more civic-minded and committed people to help sustain — and what makes it harder is its labour-intensive nature:

"Needless to say, I need more volunteers to join me. The job is tough though, not sure if women might be able to drag / raise up / load / unload heavy bikes on and off the lorry platform. However, there are many other ways that volunteers can participate; for example - everyone can go out on patrol to spot down locations of damaged bikes."

Only oBike has been supportive so far

Girginov also told us that the voluntary service is only applicable to oBikes for now.

That’s because strangely enough, even though this is actually helpful to them, the other two bike providers have not responded favourably to this initiative:

"I've attempted to reach to all the 3 local major sharing bikes providers — oBike, ofo and Mobike. It took me months to eventually get a minimal response. Most of the replies were politely informing me that they will forward the matter to the management.

It happened only with oBike who invited me on a meeting to discuss organisational matters for meeting points where to dump the bikes temporarily.” 

It’s possible the other two have been reluctant to cooperate because of regulatory challenges with picking up the damaged bikes.

Girginov says the Land Transport Authority (LTA) requires any company participating in this to attend to the collected and dropped-off bikes within a four-hour window. During this time, the company can either repair them on the spot or take them away for disposal. If they fail to do so, LTA may penalise the company with a $100 fine per bicycle.

Difficulties faced in this initiative

There were other agencies Girginov had to contend with in carrying out this very worthy endeavour.

He explains that he has faced multiple rejections from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in getting clearance for these bicycle 'meeting points'.

These even come down to finding a spot to park the lorry temporarily while he collects the bikes in the vicinity:

"After few attempts, I managed to meet with the Active Mobility Unit management team from LTA. We discussed how to synchronize my efforts and to align with theirs.  However, there are still some more difficulties which I'm seeking for a solution. Despite all the kind support from LTA Active Mobility Unit team, on my next raid for damaged bikes I received a summon from... LTA Traffic & Road Operations Group.

In order to load a faulty bike on the lorry, I need to stop temporarily somewhere nearby since bikes are scattered everywhere. This is how LTA camera captured the lorry, at a place with no traffic at all.

Needless to say, if I'm to pay "traffic offense" summons in future and to get demerit point while retrieving damaged bikes, it doesn't seem quite feasible. I may need to escalate the topic and to apply for some special mode for the retrieving vehicle. because without stopping nearby the abandoned bikes I'm not able to collect them. I hope I'll be able to overcome all these technical obstacles."

However, he remains positive and hopes to receive more support from members of the public, relevant agencies and bike companies to continue this ground-up initiative:

"Most importantly, I'd be happy if my initiative gets more support from the relevant institutions, from the shared bike companies and of course - from members of public, because it is for the benefit of the society.

We all need to keep Singapore a nice place and in good public order, and not to always rely on "someone else to do their job"."

Kudos to you, Jiv!

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Top photo from Volunteer Bike Patrol Facebook