WhyItMatters

The road ahead for bike-sharing

In just a year, dockless bicycle-sharing firms have flooded Singapore with their rentable two-wheelers, which have grown to number around 100,000.

With cases of indiscriminate parking rampant, the bicycles have become an eyesore, blocking footpaths and cluttering community spaces. Many are left around callously, others in a state of disrepair.

The introduction of a licensing regime on bike-share operators later this year aims to tackle the problem by imposing a limit on the fleet size of each operator. This number, to be reviewed every six months, will depend on how well an operator manages indiscriminate parking and ensures its bicycles are well utilised.

The regime, announced by the Land Transport Authority earlier this week, will also require operators to remove bikes parked illegally within a stipulated period. Failing to adhere to these and other conditions could result in sanctions such as a suspension or fines of up to $100,000.

Placing more responsibility on bike-share operators, which will also have to pay a licence fee, is the right step to take. After all, many of these start-ups are flush with millions of dollars from investment funding. In a race to gain market share and increase their visibility, they have possibly injected more bicycles than are actually needed. It is estimated that only half of the 100,000 shared bicycles here are actively used.

But users also have a part to play. The convenience of the dockless system has been misunderstood as a free pass for users to take the two-wheelers anywhere they please. More education on the gracious use of shared bicycles is needed.

To provide users with ample parking spaces, the Government will implement more yellow parking boxes at MRT stations, housing estates, bus stops and parks. By 2020, the number of bicycle parking spaces will increase by 29 per cent to 224,000.

 

Singapore's kempt city landscape will hopefully be restored with these steps.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2018, with the headline 'The road ahead for bike-sharing'. Print Edition | Subscribe