Balancing regulation and innovation

Bike-sharing: Balance between regulation, supporting innovation

At least two bike-sharing companies exited the market after new licensing rules kicked in. Is the need for order and discipline stymieing creative thinking?

Rows of oBikes at a field in Sengkang. The bicycle-sharing firm has exited the Singapore market, saying it is unable to meet new licensing requirements. The writer believes that given the potential advantages of the bike-sharing industry, regulators
Rows of oBikes at a field in Sengkang. The bicycle-sharing firm has exited the Singapore market, saying it is unable to meet new licensing requirements. The writer believes that given the potential advantages of the bike-sharing industry, regulators should consider creative approaches such as subsidies to incentivise optimal user behaviour instead of imposing onerous costs.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

The closure of Singapore-based bike-sharing firm oBike will certainly be cheered by many critics. Those who complained about the "eyesore" and "clutter" of indiscriminately parked bikes will be pleased to see them gone.

oBike has said the firm is unable to meet the tougher licensing rules introduced to crack down on bikes strewn randomly across the island. However, oBike also left the Melbourne market recently. It is possible the company was having financial difficulties with a huge fixed upfront cost and revenues trickling in slowly. So, maybe it used the rules as a convenient excuse.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2018, with the headline 'Bike-sharing: Balance between regulation, supporting innovation'. Print Edition | Subscribe