GEORGE TOWN: Users of the first bicycle sharing system in Penang have given the thumbs up after the RM1.85million service was launched on Saturday. Alan Khor, 40, said the system provided an alternate mode of getting around George Town other than cars. He said the service can help in cutting down the number of cars within the popular heritage site. "This can help promote a healthier lifestyle," he said when met at Lebuh Pantai where one of the nine Link Bike stations are located. With the bicycle sharing system, Penang joins an ever growing list of cities which have implemented such a service including Copenhagen (Denmark), Helsinki (Finland), Mexico City (Mexico), Beijing (China) and Urmia (Iran) among 600 others. When launching the system, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng described the service as a "paradigm shift in urban mobility." He said sharing bicycles can help in alleviating traffic congestion as well as tackling air pollution as fewer motorised vehicles are used. "This will serve as a great alternative commute for the public as well as tourists and offers a brand new approach to travel around the UNESCO World Heritage city area," he said. The system is a public owned and privately managed model where 90% is owned by the Penang Island City Council and 10% is owned by Fast Rent Bike (Penang) Sdn Bhd. theSun spoke to Fast Rent Bike director Ken Yeoh and was told the response to the Link Bike sharing system was positive with many already registering with the service. He said 60 bicycles were initially available and the system was poised to grow to 250 bicycles and 25 stations by February this year to accommodate demand. "The response has been very encouraging," he said and hoped the bicycles can help in cutting down on motorised transport use. Another user, Azlan Hussain, 35, said the environmentally friendly service would again put Penang on the map. He said such a system can help enhance the tourism industry as the convenience afforded by bicycles was attractive to visitors. Liew Kheng Sim, 51, meanwhile praised the initiative to provide more modes of transport for the public to use. She said this was an ideal choice of moving around for those wanting to reduce their dependence on cars. "This will also help in tackling air pollution," she added.