SINGAPORE: The indiscriminate parking of shared bicycles could soon be a thing of the past, after a new licensing regime for bike-sharing operators comes into effect.
The changes were part of the Parking Places (Amendment) Bill tabled in Parliament on Monday (Mar 5).
Under the new regulatory framework by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), companies like ofo, oBike and Mobike will have their fleet size reviewed every six months based on how well they address the issue of bike parking by their users.
These operators will also have to temporarily ban recalcitrant users who park indiscriminately.
LTA will also impose a QR code-based geo-fencing solution, where users will have to scan a QR code at designated parking spaces as proof of proper parking before they can end their trip. It is due to be implemented in the second half of 2018. Operators may also be required to continuously charge users who do not park properly.
Bike-sharing operators that do not comply with LTA's standards will face penalties of up to S$100,000, reductions in fleet size, suspension or even the cancellation of their licences if they fail to comply.
These penalties will be higher than the current S$500 fine that LTA imposes on operators for each indiscriminately parked bicycle that is not removed within the stipulated grace period, LTA said.
It aims to start accepting applications for bicycle-sharing licences by mid-2018, and award the licences in the fourth quarter of 2018. Unlicensed operators will be liable to a fine of up to S$10,000 or jail term of up to six months, or both.
STEPS TAKEN TO CURB IMPROPER PARKING
It was revealed last month that about 2,100 removal notices were issued and more than 300 bikes impounded between May 2017 and Jan 2018, for indiscriminate parking.
LTA has also collected about S$180,000 in fines and administrative fees from bicycle-sharing operators.
Despite the authorities' efforts to tackle the issue of errant parking, such behaviour continued.
"The indiscriminate parking of shared bicycles has caused significant social disamenities, despite LTA's efforts to increase parking infrastructure and encourage bicycle-sharing operators to operate responsibly," said the authority in a news release on Monday.
Last October, a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed – involving LTA, the National Parks Board and town councils - to educate users on the responsible use of shared bikes. The MOU also required bike operators to enforce GPS-based geo-fencing measures, so that companies have a better sense of where their bikes are parked.
There are also plans to increase the number of parking lots for shared bicycles.
Currently, there are 174,000 of such lots in public places such as next to bus stops. The LTA, together with other public agencies, will be looking to add 50,000 more designated parking lots by 2020.