SINGAPORE - A proposed licensing framework for bicycle-sharing operators, tabled in Parliament on Monday (March 5), will enhance enforcement against the indiscriminate parking of shared bikes, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min.
During the debate on the Transport Ministry's budget, MPs from both sides of the House highlighted this issue. Nearly half of the 33 questions from MPs were about shared bicycles or personal mobility devices.
In Parliament on Wednesday (March 7), Dr Lam noted the haphazard parking of shared bicycles remained a problem despite an agreement last October between the operators and various agencies, which set out guidelines on the responsible use of shared bikes.
"These bicycles obstruct other commuters and cause clutter in community spaces," he said.
In his reply to Ms Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC), who had asked if the fleet size of bicycle-sharing firms could be capped, Dr Lam said that the framework would allow the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to set such limits.
The allowed number of bicycles will be conservative to start with, he said.
"If an operator can demonstrate that it is able to manage indiscriminate parking and ensure good utilisation of its fleet, it will be allowed to grow over time," he added.
"This ensures that we start off right, and put in place the appropriate incentive structure for operators to proactively manage indiscriminate bicycle parking."
Dr Lam added that such a framework would strengthen the LTA's ability to ensure firms manage irresponsible parking.
Operators that do not meet LTA's standards and conditions will face penalties such as fines of up to $100,000, reductions in fleet size, as well as the suspension or even cancellation of licences, said Dr Lam. He added that these are more severe than the existing $500 fine for each indiscriminately parked bike.
The authorities will also take up a suggestion, made by Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC), that bike-sharing firms pay a deposit to defray the costs of removing abandoned bicycles should they go bust, said Dr Lam.
Responding to Mr Png Eng Huat (Hougang SMC), who had suggested docking stations for shared bikes, Dr Lam said these were found to be costly and unsustainable, based on the experience of other countries.
Under the proposed licensing regime, measures such as banning users who are found repeatedly parking indiscriminately as well as the use of QR codes at parking areas to strengthen geo-fencing, would be implemented.
Dr Lam said the first phase of trials of "high-accuracy" geo-fencing technology to track errantly parked bicycles is underway, and will be concluded next year.
He added that the Bill will be tabled for a second reading later this month, with the licensing framework expected to be put in place in the second half of this year.