Shared-bike parking will be located near homes, facilities

Three shared bikes lying in a canal in Marine Terrace on Monday. Under new rules, users cannot end their rental sessions until their bikes are returned to designated zones.
Three shared bikes lying in a canal in Marine Terrace on Monday. Under new rules, users cannot end their rental sessions until their bikes are returned to designated zones.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

There are plans to add 50,000 more parking spaces to the existing 170,000 by 2020

While it is not possible to have bicycle parking spaces on every doorstep, the Government will strive to locate them within a short walk of most households and key facilities.

There are now more than 170,000 bicycle parking spaces across the island, and plans are afoot to add another 50,000 by 2020.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said this in Parliament yesterday, as new laws were passed to regulate dockless bicycle-sharing operators and users of the bicycles.

During the second reading of the Parking Places (Amendment) Bill, MPs such as Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC), Dr Teo Ho Pin (Bukit Panjang) and Ms Joan Pereira (Tanjong Pagar GRC) had bemoaned the unsightly mess caused by bicycles being left around haphazardly, calling for more bicycle parking spaces.

The new law requires bike-sharing operators to share their data with the Land Transport Authority (LTA), and this will help in identifying areas of high demand where more parking spaces are needed, said Dr Lam.

More than 99 per cent of public homes and 90 per cent of private homes are already within a five-minute walk of bicycle parking areas, he added.

There are also such parking areas near more than 80 per cent of what are considered key destinations, such as polyclinics, community centres, schools and town centres.

PROBLEM ON 'LAND, SEA AND AIR'

Some residents have reflected jokingly that indiscriminate parking is not only a problem on land, but... on 'land, sea and air'. The... 'sea' refers to bicycles discarded in the... drains and at the river banks; 'air' refers to bicycles dumped on trees, on the upper levels of flats and in the corridors.

MR GAN THIAM POH (Ang Mo Kio GRC), speaking in Mandarin.

STIFFER PENALTIES NEEDED

The Bill has a provision whereby LTA can ask operators to collectively ban errant users, who fail to park responsibly, for a period of time...I hope LTA would consider tightening this rule further by imposing a fine on the errant users if they are caught riding using someone else's identity while under a ban. ''

MS JOAN PEREIRA (Tanjong Pagar GRC)

IMPOSE COMMUNITY WORK PENALTY

What enforcement actions can be taken on errant or irresponsible users or hirers of shared vehicles? Would LTA consider imposing compulsory community work on repeat offenders, for instance? ''

DR INTAN AZURA MOKHTAR (Ang Mo Kio GRC)

MORE MARKED PARKING SPACES

To support bike sharing in public housing estates, the 15 PAP town councils have drawn 3,000 yellow boxes at the void decks of our blocks. These provide enough space to store 28,000 bicycles... The town councils will continue to identify places to house more yellow boxes. At the same time, we hope that the LTA and the other government agencies will also expedite the provision of parking places at bus stops, LRT and MRT stations, parks and public amenities. ''

DR TEO HO PIN (Bukit Panjang), PAP town councils' coordinating chairman.

As for parking spaces in private developments, the LTA will work with the bike-sharing operators and have them reach out to condominium managements, foreign worker dormitory operators and commercial buildings. "However, the decision... ultimately rests with the private developer," he said.

Another measure to ensure people do not leave bicycles lying around is through quick response (QR) codes, which the LTA will implement at public bicycle parking areas.

Users will have to scan these codes at the parking areas before they can end their trip - otherwise, they will continue to be charged for the rental session.

This will be implemented on top of GPS-based geofencing that bike-sharing operators are required to put in place.

But Ms Pereira raised concerns that users can take photos of the static QR code and just reuse them at different locations.

Dr Lam said each parking location will have a unique QR code, and the LTA will continue to study other methods of geofencing.

He added that bicycle parking spaces will continue to be made available to users who have their own bicycles.

Nominated MP K. Thanaletchimi, though, cautioned that the new regulations should not deter the take-up of bicycle-sharing and impede innovation by operators.

Dr Lam said the Government is considering allowing new operators to operate in a "regulatory sandbox" on a trial basis with a smaller fleet. The LTA will grant a full licence if they can meet the standards.


Regulations for operators and users

•Users caught parking improperly at least thrice in a calendar year will be banned temporarily from renting from all bike-sharing operators. The duration of the ban will be announced later.

•Users can end their bicycle rental sessions only when they scan a QR (Quick Response) code at the bicycle parking area. This QR code must match the GPS location of the parking area, which operators will demarcate with a virtual boundary - created by geofencing technology - that sends out an alert when a bike enters or leaves the area.

•Operators have to apply for a licence to run dockless bike-sharing services in Singapore.

•Each operator's fleet size will be capped and reviewed regularly. An operator's application to increase its fleet will be assessed based on such factors as how well it tackles indiscriminate parking and how often its bicycles are used.

•Operators have to comply with standards set by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on the use of geofencing technology and the timely removal of bicycles parked indiscriminately.

•Operators have to share with the LTA data on the location of their rental bicycles.

•The LTA can take regulatory action against bike-sharing operators - from reducing their fleet size to imposing fines of up to $100,000 for each instance of non-compliance, and the suspension or cancellation of their licences.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2018, with the headline 'Shared-bike parking will be located near homes, facilities'. Print Edition | Subscribe