SINGAPORE - Another bicycle-sharing firm entered the fray on Thursday (Aug 24) as the fourth such company to officially launch here, and with a new way to curb indiscriminate parking of shared bicycles.
The local entrant, SG Bike, differentiates itself from the competition by having users park around a device called a "geostation".
The geostation emits a radio-frequency identification (RFID) field that recognises if SG Bike bicycles are parked around them.
The field's radius ranges from 5m to 25m around each geostation, and the parking zone is marked by a painted yellow box. The range in geostations at Housing Board void decks is 5m.
If a bicycle is parked outside the zone, it will emit an alarm sound and the user's app will notify him to move the bike into the zone, or else he will face a penalty fee. The Straits Times understands that the fee, yet to be decided, will range between $2 and $5.
It costs $1 to rent a bicycle for 30 minutes, with overtime users charged on a per-minute basis. Users who get an SG Bike account can unlock the bicycles with their phones, a card mailed to them, or their own ez-link cards.
SG Bike's new bicycle sharing service is limited to Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council for now, and there will be around 300 bicycles, and geostations in places such as MRT stations, housing board blocks and bus stops there by the end of the month.
Holland-Bukit Panjang residents who sign up for an SG Bike account before Sept 15 can enjoy free rides for a month, and SG Bike will expand its network of geostations and bicycles to Sembawang and Nee Soon in the next few weeks.
Dr Teo Ho Pin, Mayor of North West Community Development Council, said at the launch of SG Bike's bicycle sharing service that Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council was chosen for the start of the service because Bukit Panjang town is "quite compact".
"The furthest point from (anywhere within) our town to the MRT is about 3km, so we feel that with this distance we are able to encourage more people to use shared bicycles," he said.
Mr Khaw Boon Wan, Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport, was also at the launch as a guest of honour, like Dr Teo. The opening ceremony of the bicycle sharing service was held at Block 124, Pending Road.
For Yew Tee resident, retiree Mohd Hanif Mohd Sadiq, SG Bike's geostations would definitely help tackle the problem of indiscriminate parking.
Said Mr Mohd, 56, who tested the bicycles at the launch event while jogging to the market: "I go running, and I see bicycles parked everywhere, and it's not nice."
Indiscriminate parking of shared bicycles by users has been an issue in recent months after the introduction of such bikes this year by three bike sharing companies - ofo, oBike and MoBike.
The two-wheelers, which are typically unlocked using a mobile app and do not have to be returned to fixed docking stations, have been strewn on footpaths and at the exits of private condominium estates, Land Transport Authority (LTA) officers said in a report in June.
In July, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said in Parliament that the bike-sharing companies will have to moderate the growth of shared bicycles. There are about 30,000 such bikes.
He said that the Government will work with these companies to ensure the population of bicycles is "commensurate with the availability of public parking places".
"This is to prevent excessive indiscriminate parking, as well as disamenities to the public," he said, noting that LTA had served around 1,000 notices for illegally parked bicycles at the time.
The operators are given half a day to remove them, after which the bicycles are impounded.
Dr Lam said LTA has been coordinating with other government agencies and town councils to "align the approach against indiscriminate parking of shared bicycles".