GrabCycle app to offer shared bikes, e-scooters from several operators

ST VIDEO: KELVIN CHNG
GrabVentures head Reuben Lai (above) says Grab will partner venue owners to roll out dedicated GrabCycle parking areas. On Sentosa (top), it aims to offer more than 10 parking areas.
GrabVentures head Reuben Lai says Grab will partner venue owners to roll out dedicated GrabCycle parking areas. On Sentosa (above), it aims to offer more than 10 parking areas.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
GrabVentures head Reuben Lai (above) says Grab will partner venue owners to roll out dedicated GrabCycle parking areas. On Sentosa (top), it aims to offer more than 10 parking areas.
GrabVentures head Reuben Lai (above) says Grab will partner venue owners to roll out dedicated GrabCycle parking areas. On Sentosa it aims to offer more than 10 parking areas.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

It will soon be possible to rent bicycles or electric scooters from several operators under a common app from ride-hailing firm Grab.

Its latest venture, GrabCycle, will allow users to locate and book shared bicycles from oBike, GBikes and Anywheel, as well as shared e-scooters from PopScoot. New entrant Anywheel - Singapore's seventh bike-sharing firm - aims to begin operations here next month.

The app, the first project from the firm's new GrabVentures division, will be available within the next few months, said GrabVentures head Reuben Lai.

GrabCycle expands the range of transport services offered by Grab, he said, noting it already offers options like on-demand shuttle buses.

"Bicycles are the cheapest and fastest way to get around the city," he said, adding this is in line with the Republic's car-lite ambitions.

Singapore-based Grab last year invested in oBike, another Singapore-based firm, when it embarked on a US$45 million (S$59 million) funding round. The two also signed an agreement in January that, among other things, saw Grab's e-payment platform GrabPay incorporated into the oBike app. In China, ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing also has a bike-sharing platform, incorporating ofo and Bluegogo.

Grab's move into bike-sharing comes as these various enterprises will be governed by greater regulation. A proposed licensing framework, introduced in Parliament on Monday, will impose even stiffer penalties for indiscriminately parked shared bikes and set caps on their numbers.

 

"We believe regulation and clear rules are good for the industry and the consumers," said Mr Lai. He said Grab was exploring technology to enhance responsible parking.

Grab will also partner venue owners to roll out dedicated GrabCycle parking areas. On Sentosa, it aims to offer more than 10 parking areas.

Mr Lai added that the firm aims to share the data it collects through GrabCycle with the authorities, to help identify cycling pathways and parking areas.

Shared-bike users said having the various companies available through a single app was useful.

"Having all the bikes under one app makes it more convenient," said computer graphics artist Mohamad Rizal, 35. But he said it would be more useful if the personal mobility devices (PMDs) from other firms were also available under the app.

Grab has not ruled out partnerships with other shared-bicycle and PMD firms, said Mr Lai. However, he declined comment on reports that Grab is close to signing a deal to take over Uber's operations in the region, saying the firm does not comment on speculation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2018, with the headline 'GrabCycle app to offer shared bikes, e-scooters from several operators'. Print Edition | Subscribe