SEOUL, June 15 (Korea Bizwire) — The growing number of South Koreans using shared mobility services as an alternative for public transportation following the spread of the coronavirus is causing a different kind of concern amidst efforts to contain the pandemic.
South Korea’s shared mobility services are represented by Seoul Bike, a shared public bicycle service offered by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, as well as electric scooter services offered by many private companies.
IGAWorks, a South Korean mobile big data platform, reported that the number of Monthly Active Users of shared electric scooter services reached 214,451 people in April, jumping sixfold since the same month last year (37,294 users).
Electric scooter companies saw a record-breaking surge in user numbers following a massive coronavirus outbreak in Itaewon last month.
Seoul Bike recorded almost 2.3 million uses in February and March of this year, jumping 66.8 percent relative to the same period last year.
Experts argue that public distrust towards public transportation caused by the coronavirus outbreak has led to an increase in the number of Seoul Bike users more than the service’s rising publicity.
While shared mobility services are used to avoid the risk of infection by avoiding concealed, populated spaces of public transportation, they aren’t the perfect solution to keep all quarantine instructions.
“Every time I ride on one of those electric scooters, I feel a little worried if the handles are perfectly sanitized. But when you’re busy going about places, you tend to forget to wash your hands or the handles after you’ve finished riding on those scooters,” said a local office worker who commutes to work on a shared electric scooter.
While service providers are working hard to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, it also falls upon the individuals who ride the scooters to keep them clean and sanitized.
Electric scooters are often left in random places with no designated space for parking, making it difficult to place hand sanitizers.
While individual users are responsible for sanitation, some experts claim that service providers are doing less than what is called for to keep users informed about sanitation.
“The majority of shared mobility users are in their 20s or 30s. Since many younger people infected with the coronavirus are asymptomatic, there is a risk of an infected person leaving droplets on the scooter’s handles,” said Jeon Byung-yul, a former director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Users should make a habit out of using sanitizer to clean the handles after use to keep others safe from possible infection.”
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)