Shared-bike users caught parking indiscriminately more than 3 times a year will face collective ban
SINGAPORE – Users caught for parking their shared bicycles indiscriminately more than three times in a year will be banned temporarily from renting from all bike-sharing operators, following amendments made to the Parking Places Act passed on Tuesday (March 20).
SINGAPORE — Users caught for parking their shared bicycles indiscriminately more than three times in a year will be banned temporarily from renting from all bike-sharing operators, following amendments made to the Parking Places Act passed on Tuesday (March 20).
In addition, those who do not park their bicycles in designated parking areas will not be able to “end their trips”, meaning they will have to continue to pay, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min.
The new law, tabled in Parliament earlier this month, places operators offering dockless shared bikes, personal mobility devices (PMDs), and power-assisted bicycles under a licensing regime.
This will give the Land Transport Authority (LTA) more teeth to fine or sanction errant operators, such as by revoking their licences or curtailing their fleet size.
Applications for bike-sharing operator licences will commence in the middle of the year, and will be awarded by the fourth quarter of 2018.
Under the licensing regime, the authority can also direct operators to impose a time-limited ban on users caught for parking their shared vehicles indiscriminately more than three times in a year.
An LTA spokesperson said that more details on the length of the ban will be released in due course.
Bike-sharing operators will also be able to share information of recalcitrant users who have improperly parked bicycles in public places among themselves, and Dr Lam said the information sharing “will be limited to the extent necessary for implementing the collective ban”.
Failure to comply with the licensing regime can result in operators facing financial penalties — such as fines of up to S$100,000 — reductions in fleet size, suspension, or even having their licences revoked.
Currently, the LTA imposes an S$500 fine on operators for every indiscriminately-parked bicycle that is not removed within a stipulated time.
Since the middle of last year, the LTA has issued more than 2,100 removal notices, and collected about S$180,000 in fines and administrative fees from the operators.
Last month, Dr Lam also said in Parliament that a total of 341 indiscriminately parked bikes had been impounded since enforcement actions commenced in May 2017.
The new regulations are the Government’s biggest attempt at addressing public frustrations over issues that have arisen as a result of the growing bike-sharing market.
In just over a year, the number of bicyles provided by the six operators has grown to over 100,000, a situation that some Members of Parliament (MPs) have described as “over-saturated”.
A total of eight MPs spoke in support of the amendments on Tuesday, with several calling for more rigourous enforcement such as extending fines on errant users to promote user-responsibility.
Speaking in Mandarin, Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Gan Thiam Poh asked if the authorities would consider collecting fines directly from recalcitrant users. He added that the amount of fines could be set according to the users’ age and income profiles, based on data collected by the operators.
Nominated MP K. Thanaletchmi also said that the responsibility of managing the problem of indiscriminately parked bikes “should not fall solely on the operators, but also on the end-user”.
She raised the possibility of using rewards, rather than penalties, to incentivise proper parking behaviour. One operator, Ofo, has introduced a reward system which allows users to earn credits if they report cases of misuse.
Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Joan Pereira also raised the possibility of errant users using another’s identity and accounts while they were under a ban, so as to continue using shared-bicycles.
In response, Dr Lam said that the Bill is aimed at correcting errant behaviour through the collective ban, but said that users may also be discouraged from parking indiscriminately as they will be charged continuously.
He said: “Users will not be allowed to end their trips until the bikes are parked within designated parking areas... users who park indiscriminately will continue to be charged until they park properly.”
The authorities are also looking at testing high-accuracy, geo-fencing technology to improve tracking of errantly-parked bicycles.
The LTA will implement the technology by the second half of the year, which will require shared bike users to scan the unique Quick Response (QR) code at designated parking locations as proof of proper parking before ending their trips.
Dr Lam said that there will be safeguards in place to ensure that the proper use of static QR codes.
For example, each parking location is matched with a unique QR code and users will only be allowed to end their trip if the scanned QR code matches the GPS location of the parking location.
There are currently over 170,000 public bicycle parking lots at MRT stations, bus stops, Housing and Development Board estates and parks, and another 50,000 lots will be added by 2020.
Jurong GRC MP Ang Wei Neng suggested that bike sharing companies should shoulder part of the cost of setting up parking zones, or “yellow boxes”, especially if they each require a unique QR code.
However, Dr Lam said that the Government does not intend to charge operators for “surface-level” parking costs, and it intends to recoup the costs of setting up the zones through licensing fees.
MPs also raised concerns that the licensing regime may be an “over-correction”, with some stating that having users walk to a parking zone may defeat the purpose of a dockless bike-sharing system.
However, Dr Lam said the benefits of a dockless bicycle-sharing have been marred by indiscriminate parking. “The bicycle sharing operators have exacerbated this problem as they grew their fleets too quickly in a bid to capture market share,” he added.
To ensure that new players are not discouraged from entering the market, Dr Lam said that a regulatory sandbox will be put in place for new operators with smaller fleets to enter the market, and they will be subject to a subset of the new requirements.
“With LTA managing the fleet size of each operator, operators will be incentivised to deploy their fleet wisely, instead of flooding public places with unused shared bicycles,” said Dr Lam.
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