LTA will open 2-month window for bike-sharing operators to apply for licence; recalcitrant users face 1-year ban

Bike-sharing operators will have to apply for a licence and have their fleet size regulated by the LTA as part of moves to curb indiscriminate parking. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Users of bicycle-sharing services who are caught parking indiscriminately three times in a year will face a ban of up to one year from using all bicycle-sharing services, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said in a media statement on Friday (May 5).

The spelling out of sanctions against recalcitrant cyclists came as the LTA also announced that bicycle-sharing operators will have two months, from May 8, to apply for a licence. This follows the tabling of the Parking Places (Amendment) Bill in March, a piece of legislation aimed at tackling the indiscriminate parking of about 100,000 shared bicycles in Singapore.

The licence will let a bike-sharing company operate for up to two years. Existing operators which fail to submit an application will have to cease operations once the application window closes on July 7.

Under the new scheme, bike-sharing firms will have to share data with one another on users who park indiscriminately so bans can be imposed on repeat offenders.

Their users will be required to scan the unique quick response (QR) code at the parking location as proof of proper parking before ending their trip. Users who park indiscriminately will be continuously charged until they return the bicycle to a designated parking space.

Mr Mohammad Farhan Hassan, 36, who uses bike-sharing services at least once a month, worries that users might not have enough designated parking spaces near their destinations and have to face harsh consequences as a result. "Sometimes I see a bike parked in an improper place, but there is really no convenient parking spot around."

Another user, Mr Chua Jie Sen, 27, expressed a similar concern. "If there isn't a parking spot near my destination, it ruins the flexibility and convenience of a bicycle-sharing service."

However, a Bukit Timah resident who wanted to be known only as Ms Chan, 19, was optimistic about the new rules' impact on the public. "This will reduce the inconvenience posed to pedestrians and make shared bicycles less of an eyesore," she said.

There are an estimated 100,000 dockless shared bicycles in Singapore, owned by six operators, but only about half of them are actively used.

In assessing operators, the LTA will consider the operator's ability to manage indiscriminate parking by its users, its fleet utilisation rate and other factors such as the demand for the service and availability of parking spaces, when it assesses licence applications.

Existing operators' track records of managing indiscriminate parking will also be taken into account.

The LTA said it would take a more conservative approach to fleet sizes, given the scale of the parking problem. However, firms that show they can manage the parking issue and ensure good bicycle use would be allowed to grow their fleets over time.

Bike-sharing firms will be subject to licensing conditions and industry-wide standards. Failure to comply could result in fines, fleet reductions or suspension. Unlicensed operators can be fined up to $10,000 and/or face a jail term of up to six months. A fine of $500 each day that the offence continues will also be imposed.

Licence applications can be made at the LTA's website.

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