SINGAPORE: The 15 town councils run by the People's Action Party (PAP) are developing a common set of regulations for bicycle sharing, parking, and riding, according to Co-ordinating Chairman of PAP Town Councils Dr Teo Ho Pin on Friday (May 19).
As part of the new framework, the town councils will designate “bike drop-off boxes” or parking zones and identify suitable paths for cyclists within estates, and LTA will be “taking enforcement action (against) reckless cyclists”, Dr Teo said.
Examples of these parking zones can be seen in areas like Jurong and Tampines, following recent tie-ups between the operators and the respective town councils.
The move comes amid the burgeoning popularity of bicycle sharing in recent months, with the emergence of operators providing "dockless" services - where users can rent bicycles without returning them to fixed stations.
ILLEGALLY PARKED BICYCLES TO BE TAKEN AWAY
But this has also resulted in cases of “indiscriminate parking”, where bikes are left near staircases, blocking fire escape routes and corridors. Town councils have also cited inconsiderate behaviour, like speeding and reckless riding, as common concerns.
Channel NewsAsia understands that among the measures that will be enforced, illegally parked bicycles will be “towed away”. The bicycle-sharing operators would then have to bear the cost of retrieving and storing the bicycles.
“We have discussed with LTA to develop a common set of framework and by-laws to ensure the safety of both our residents and cyclists,” Dr Teo told Channel NewsAsia.
“This arrangement will ensure consistent practices among the 15 town councils so that residents and cyclists can use our town council footpaths, including covered linkway footpaths safely.”
The move also comes ahead of new laws governing and regulating the use of personal mobility devices and bicycles on public paths taking effect, which including new and stiffer penalties for reckless riding. The Active Mobility Bill was passed in Parliament in January, and the legislation is expected to come into force later this year.
“We are trying to align town council by-laws with the Active Mobility Act as soon as possible,” Dr Teo said, referring to the laws governing each town council.
"RIGHT DECISION" TO SCRAP NATIONAL BICYCLE-SHARING SCHEME
In March, the Land Transport Authority announced that it was scrapping plans for a previously announced national bicycle-sharing scheme.
“The ongoing plans by the private dockless bicycle-sharing system operators have obviated the need for a Government-run system backed by Government grants,” it said.
One expert told Channel NewsAsia that the current arrangement - having the operators run the services, but with the Government enforcing the rules - was the right move.
"This industry is moving very fast, and the technology, including the design of the bike, is changing very rapidly,” said National University of Singapore transport researcher Dr Lee Der Horng.
“The national bike-sharing scheme was going to use taxpayers' money, going to be part of public policy ... and may not be able to be up to date in terms of technology and the overall flexibility of the sharing system.”
“I think it was the right decision to leave the operations to the commercial operators, and the Government's responsibility is actually on the enforcement - in having the regulatory framework, to provide the overall management.”
BIKE SHARING TO COME TO ANG MO KIO
Following Tampines and Jurong, Ang Mo Kio will become the latest town to roll out a bicycle-sharing system together with bicycle-sharing operators, according to MP Ang Hin Kee.
Mr Ang told Channel NewsAsia on Thursday that Ang Mo Kio residents are showing more interest in cycling, to travel from their homes to places like the MRT or the market.
As part of the tie-up, the operators and the town councils will expand the number of yellow bicycle parking zones, and increase the number of bicycle racks, Mr Ang said. Currently, there are about 12,000 bicycle racks in Ang Mo Kio serving about 100,000 HDB flats.
"So we will be doing it in our markets, at major areas such as near to the MRT station, near to facilities like community centres. Those are the first priority,” he said. “Then we'll expand it to cover some of the void decks where some of these bikes may be parked."
Mr Ang said he expected the new parking zones to be ready by end June. He added that the authorities will also audit the signs and pathways in a bid to clearly show where the shared paths, cycling, or footpaths are. Education and training programmes in schools or senior citizen corners are also in the works.
When contacted by Channel NewsAsia, Pritam Singh, chairman of the Workers' Party-run Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC), said that LTA has reached out to AHTC to discuss the matter.
He added that the town council has also contacted one bicycle-sharing operator to address indiscriminate parking and usage around the town.