SINGAPORE - From January, those who indiscriminately park shared bicycles can face extra charges and repeat offenders can expect to be banned for up to a year.
This was announced on Tuesday (Sept 25) by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) as one of many measures to fight indiscriminate parking of shared bicycles which have caused disamenities to people since bike sharing services started in Singapore last year.
The extra charges are linked to an islandwide quick response (QR) code bicycle parking system that will be launched in January.
Under the system, shared bicycle users have to look for a bicycle parking zone, park and lock the bike in it, and scan a QR code installed at the zone.
The failure to look, park and scan will result in an additional fee of $5.
Those who fail to park any shared bike properly three times in a calendar year will be banned from using bicycle sharing services for a month. The ban period increases with every subsequent ban, up to one year.
Further details will be released later.
The QR codes will be installed progressively at public parking spaces from the end of this month.
The QR code system was initially announced by LTA in March. The authority also introduced then a licensing regime for shared-bicycle operators.
Through this regulatory framework, the bicycle fleet size each operator is allowed to have will be reviewed every six months, based on how well they can manage the illegal parking problem and how often their bikes are used.
As of July this year, four bicycle-sharing firms – ofo, Mobike, SG Bike and GBikes – have submitted their applications for a full licence to operate dockless bicycle rental services.
Another three – Anywheel, QiQi Zhixiang and GrabCycle – applied for a regulatory sandbox licence, which is for firms without a sufficiently long track record in operating a bike-sharing service in Singapore.
The results of the applications are expected at the end of this month.
But cyclists will also have an easier time finding spaces to park at, as the current 207,000 spaces will be increased to 267,000 by 2020, said LTA. It added that 7,000 spaces have been added since January this year.
“LTA will continue to work with our partner agencies, private developers and building owners to expand the bicycle parking capacity islandwide, especially at locations with higher demand for bicycle parking,” said the authority.
More than 99 per cent of public housing residents are within a 5-minute walk – or about 400m – from bicycle parking, said LTA. It added that 97 per cent of key destinations – such as polyclinics, community centres, schools and town centres – are within a 5-minute walking distance as well.
Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah, who has spoken about the issue of indiscriminate bicycle parking in Parliament, said of the extra charge for errant parking: “I think $5 is quite a substantial sum and (provides) enough deterrence.”
She added that while the severity of the issue has been reduced since more parking spaces were built, she still sees errant bike parking in her constituency.
Another suggestion, she said, is for the relevant authorities to also look out for those who do not park properly when they carry out enforcement action against errant cyclists and personal mobility device users.
Ms Lee added: “There should be public education and more parking spaces. In my constituency, I have been looking into these areas and will continue to do so.”
Nanyang Technological University student Jovi Ho, 23, said: “I feel the $5 fine will really deter users from improper parking. The fine isn’t that far off from (the cost of a) 30-day ofo pass, and I feel that it is a significant figure.”
But he called the possible year-long ban for recalcitrant offenders “harsh”.
“I believe bike-sharing is the future and we can’t afford to lose such a convenience,” said Mr Ho. “While I understand the need for such regulations, I hope the users and the companies aren’t too affected.”
Additional reporting by Gilaine Ng