Bike-sharing firms in Singapore will soon come under a licensing regime as part of the Land Transport Authority's plan to curb indiscriminate parking
Shared-bicycle operators to be licensed to curb indiscriminate parking Rental bikes parked indiscriminately near Yishun MRT station on Feb 5, 2018. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - To tackle the growing scourge of shared bicycles being parked indiscriminately, rental operators such as oBike, ofo and MoBike will soon come under a licensing regime.

Through the regulatory framework, the bicycle fleet size that each operator is allowed to have will be reviewed every six months, based on how well they can manage the problem of illegal parking and how often their bicycles are used.

There are an estimated 100,000 dockless shared bicycles here, owned by six operators, but only about half of them are actively used.

Announcing the licensing regime on Monday (March 5), the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said: "The indiscriminate parking of shared bicycles has caused significant social disamenities, despite LTA's efforts to increase parking infrastructure and encourage bicycle-sharing operators to operate responsibly."

The LTA said it will start accepting licence applications by the middle of this year, and the licences will be awarded by the year end.

Under the licensing scheme, bike-share operators will be required to share data, including the locations of all their bicycles, with the LTA, and remove indiscriminately parked two-wheelers in a timely manner.

The authority will also require operators to temporarily ban users who repeatedly park indiscriminately from using the rental services of all operators.

Bike-share operators that do not comply with LTA's standards and conditions will face sanctions, such as financial penalties of up to $100,000, reductions in fleet size, suspension or even the cancellation of their licences.

Bike-share operators debuted in Singapore early last year. As they operate on a dockless system, the bicycles can be rented from and returned to any location, using a mobile app. The six firms are oBike, ofo, Mobike, GBikes, SG Bikes and ShareBikeSG.

However, the bicycles have been found to be parked illegally by users, obstructing community spaces and blocking footpaths.

Since the middle of last year, LTA has issued more than 2,100 removal notices and collected about $180,000 in fines and administrative fees from the operators.

To cope with more shared bicycles, the authorities have been creating more parking spaces at MRT stations, bus stops, Housing Board estates and parks.

There are now 174,000 bike-parking spaces. The LTA and public agencies plan to provide 50,000 more by 2020.

LTA will also be installing unique quick response (QR) codes at all public bicycle parking areas from the second half of this year.

Operators will have to ensure their users scan the QR code at the parking area before users are allowed to end their trip.

In October last year, the LTA, town councils and National Parks Board signed a memorandum of understanding to promote the responsible use of shared bicycles and promote good parking behaviour.

The licensing system will be implemented through the Parking Places (Amendment) Bill, which was introduced in Parliament on Monday.

The Bill will be read for the second time later this month and debated in Parliament.