A new parking system for shared bicycles is being rolled out soon to make sure that their users park them properly. Otherwise, there will be a price to pay.
From January next year, errant users will be charged $5 by licensed operators each time they park these bicycles indiscriminately. Those who offend at least three times in a calendar year can be banned from using shared bicycle services for as long as 12 months.
The moves are part of a framework, announced in March, to tackle the problem of indiscriminate parking in which industry players as well as users will have to play their part.
To make sure that users park their shared bicycles properly, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday that it will start installing Quick Response (QR) codes at public bicycle parking places from the end of this month.
At the end of their trip, users will have to scan the QR code, before leaving the bike there, to show it has been parked properly. They will fall foul of the new regulations if they do not.
While this regime will kick in from January, the LTA will launch a public education campaign from next month to teach shared-bike users about ending their trip by using the QR codes.
Meanwhile, the authority is ramping up bicycle parking capacity islandwide, and has added 7,000 bicycle parking spaces since the start of the year to the 207,000 existing ones. It aims to have 267,000 parking spaces by 2020.
The LTA said it also aims to have parking spaces available within a short walk of most households and key destinations such as polyclinics, community centres, schools and town centres.
"Today, more than 99 per cent of public housing residents are within a five-minute walk - or about 400m - of bicycle parking," it said in a statement."
To rein in indiscriminate parking, the Government had announced a licensing regime for shared-bike operators, along with a cap on fleet sizes.
These are to be reviewed depending on, among other factors, how the firms manage parking issues as part of their responsibilities.
Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah, who has spoken about the issue of indiscriminate bicycle parking in Parliament, said of the charge for errant parking: "I think $5 is quite a substantial sum and (provides) enough deterrence."
She added that while the issue has become less severe after more parking spaces were built, she still sees the problem in her constituency. She urged the authorities to be on the lookout for such offenders as part of enforcement action against errant cyclists and personal mobility device users.
Bike-sharing companies welcomed the new measures aimed at curbing errant parking, but some were concerned about how it would affect business. SG Bike said the move could increase its operating costs, but assured users these costs would not be passed on to them.
Nanyang Technological University student Jovi Ho, a 23-year-old who uses bike sharing to cycle around school daily, said the fine is not far off from the cost of an ofo pass to use its shared bicycles for 30 days. "I feel the $5 fine will really deter users from improper parking."
However, he called the possible year-long ban for recalcitrant offenders harsh.
"It would be a pity if users are turned off by the new regulations and stop using the bikes altogether."
• Additional reporting by Gilaine Ng
SEE TOP OF THE NEWS