3 strikes and you will be suspended from renting shared bikes
Government to crack down on shared bicycle users who park indiscriminately
The scourge of shared bicycles being indiscriminately parked or even dumped has prompted the Government to act to tackle the problem, with proposed laws passed yesterday in Parliament.
Under the amendments made to the Parking Places Act, users caught parking their bikes illegally more than three times in a calendar year will be temporarily banned from renting from any bike-sharing operators, Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Lam Pin Min announced yesterday.
They will also not be allowed to end their rental sessions if they fail to return the bicycle to a designated parking zone - meaning that they will continue to be charged until they do the right thing.
Dr Lam said operators will also have to share information on recalcitrant users and the location of the bicycles, so the Land Transport Authority (LTA) can track indiscriminate parking more effectively.
Said Dr Lam: "The majority of users are responsible and park the shared vehicles in designated parking areas.
"However, there are irresponsible and inconsiderate users who do not do so. It is important to hold them accountable."
Operators of dockless shared bikes, personal mobility devices (PMDs) and power-assisted bicycles will be placed under a licensing regime, which they can start to apply for by the middle of the year. The licences will be awarded by the end of the year.
Operators will also have to pay a licence fee, with the amount to be announced later.
The maximum fleet size of each operator will be controlled by the LTA and be reviewed every six months, depending on how well they manage the problem of illegal parking and how efficiently their fleet is used.
The LTA will also set industry standards, including the use of geofencing technology and defining the amount of time operators have to remove illegally parked bicycles.
Geofencing technology creates a virtual boundary that sends out an alert when a bike enters or leaves an area.
Penalties include a reduction in fleet size, fines of up to $100,000 for each infraction as well as the cancellation or suspension of licences.
Unlicensed operators can be fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed for up to six months.
It is estimated that the number of shared bikes from the six rental operators here has swelled to over 100,000.
While the company is not looking to expand its fleet, Mr Tim Phang from oBike Singapore told The New Paper that the country is "under-supplied with shared bicycles".
Head of policy and communications in South-east Asia for ofo, Mr Christopher Hilton, said there is a "robust appetite" for shared bike services here, citing Sunday's example when nearly 150,000 rides were taken on an ofo bike.
From the second half of this year, LTA will be installing unique QR codes at all public bicycle parking areas. Operators must ensure users scan these codes before ending their trip.
Miss Joan Pereira (Tanjong Pagar GRC) asked if this could be abused by users, who could game the system and scan photos of QR codes to park anywhere they please.
Dr Lam said the codes complement the accuracy of GPS-based geofencing, and each parking location's code is unique. Users can only end their trip if their scanned QR code matches the GPS location of the parking spot.
There are currently 170,000 parking spots across Singapore, with 50,000 more planned.
Dr Lam said yesterday that more than 99 per cent of HDB homes and 90 per cent of private ones are within a five-minute walk of bike parking zones.
LTA, he added, is working with operators to reach out to condominium managements, foreign worker dormitories and commercial buildings to allow for shared bikes to be parked in such places. "However, the decision to allow shared devices to be parked within the premises ultimately rests with the private developer," Dr Lam said.