Brightly-coloured two-wheelers can be seen all over the island since early 2017, and many Singaporeans from all walks of life have benefitted from the convenience such shared services bring to their daily commute. As bicycle sharing services gained popularity, inconsiderate users park bicycles everywhere – littering pavements, void decks and even beside expressways. Indiscriminately parked shared bicycles have become a sore sight for many, blocking footpaths, not just inconveniencing others but also posing as a safety hazard, particularly for vulnerable path users like the elderly and disabled.
To tackle these problems, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will put in place a licensing framework for bicycle sharing operators (BSOs) to adhere to. Application for licence has opened since 8 May 2018 and will close by 7 July 2018.
So how will the licensing BSOs change the game? Here are some positive changes you can expect to see when the new framework kicks in.
1. Less overcrowding of shared bicycles
To date, there are an estimated 100,000 dockless shared bicycles in Singapore owned by six operators. However, only about half are actively used. This indicates oversupply of shared bicycles in the market, thus contributing to the ‘bicycle litter’ we see on our streets.
The new licensing framework will allow LTA to review the bicycle fleet sizes of each operator regularly. Depending on the ability of the operator to manage indiscriminate parking and ensure good bicycle utilisation, their fleet size allowance will be adjusted accordingly. By managing the number of shared bicycles available, LTA hopes to strike a balance between user convenience and overcrowding of shared bicycles.
2. Timely removal of indiscriminately parked shared bicycles
Frustrated at often seeing the same indiscriminately parked shared bicycles at the same location week after week? The new licensing scheme will rectify this as BSOs’ ability to remove indiscriminately parked bicycles in a timely manner. Operators that do not comply with LTA’s standards and conditions will face sanctions, such as financial penalties, reductions in fleet size, suspension or even cancellation of their licenses.
Currently, one in 10 shared bicycle rides end up with bicycles being parked indiscriminately by users.
3. More responsible parking of shared bicycles
At present, shared bicycle users are allowed to conclude their trips at any location simply by locking the bicycle and ending the trip on the mobile application. While this is convenient for users, it has led to the problem of irresponsible parking.
With the implementation of new regulations under the licensing regime, BSOs will need to implement the use of QR code-based geo-fencing technology. What this means for users is that they will need to end their trips by scanning the QR code at designated parking spaces, or continue to pay rental fee charges by BSOs.
4. Banning irresponsible users
With the use of geo-fencing technology under the new licensing regime, irresponsible users who park indiscriminately will also clock up demerit points for their irresponsible behaviour. Users of bicycle-sharing services who are caught parking indiscriminately three times a year will face a ban of up to one year from using all bicycle-sharing services. Repeat offenders will not get away – as BSOs will be required to share data with one another on users who park indiscriminately.
With the above conditions and standards for BSOs to adhere to, the new licensing framework looks set to be a step in the right direction. Putting greater responsibility on BSOs and consumers will help maintain the tidiness of our public spaces, thus enabling the sustainability of bicycle sharing services so that its benefits can be enjoyed by all.