SINGAPORE – Bicycles were parked indiscriminately around Yishun MRT station, blocking walkways and hard courts, so community volunteers took matters into their own hands.

The Nee Soon Central Active Mobility Patrol (AMP) team, working with the police, Land Transport Authority, town council and National Parks Board (NParks), addressed the problem by educating cyclists and relocating the bicycles to a fenced area in front of the MRT station, with instructions left behind for owners to collect them.

“It’s very unsightly, it causes obstruction, and inconveniences the residents,” said Ms Eileen Chan, chairman of the Nee Soon Central AMP team.

Ms Chan, who is in her 70s and self-employed in the service sector, explained that it is also a safety issue, as people may trip on these bicycles, especially on rainy days.

Thanks to the team’s efforts, the number of bicycles indiscriminately parked there in a month fell from more than 200 to about 20 bicycles within five months from the start of the programme in May last year.

The project was cited by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu as an example of how communities can take the lead in solving their own municipal problems.

At the Municipal Services Awards 2019 on Thursday (Oct 17) held in the Flower Field Hall at Gardens by the Bay, the team from the Community-Led Bicycle Education Programme received an award in the Community category.

The annual awards, in their fifth edition, recognise the delivery of municipal services and inter-agency efforts in solving problems in estates.

This year, there were 23 winners from three categories – Community, Team and Individual.

Ms Fu said: “The number of nominations has been increasing. This year alone, we received 110 nominations, almost three times what we received in our first year.”

She noted the nine Community category winners as evidence that good municipal services require the support of the people in the community.

“Local communities are our valuable partners, in that they have a first-hand appreciation of the problems that are faced on the ground, and they know the local situation best.”

She also announced that the OneService App, which lets residents report municipal issues without having to find out which government agency to approach, would be updated over the next few months to include two new features.

The app, which was introduced in January 2015, had more than 190,000 downloads as of Sept 30 this year.

The first feature is a survey tool for government agencies and town councils to poll residents on issues such as flat repainting colour schemes.

In future, it will allow residents to proactively suggest ways to improve their neighbourhoods.

The second is a Community Challenge, which encourages residents to take action to solve their own problems.

For example, when someone provides feedback about mosquito breeding cases, the person will be challenged by the app to share information on preventing mosquito breeding while the agencies tackle the issue.

At Thursday’s event, Ms Fu also called for the building of a culture of recognition for municipal officers, beyond just the annual awards.

“I would like to call for more recognition to be given to our officers, not just to be given an award once a year like this today, but also a compliment, a pat on the back for many who do exemplary work every single day, away from the public eye.”

She said the Municipal Services Office will be featuring stories of its staff who have gone the extra mile to help residents on its social media platforms.