In Focus
TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS | Staff Reporter, Singapore

LTA rules will put the brakes on bike-sharing economy: oBike

But with no sign of the LTA back-peddling, this may mean Singapore has hit peak bike share.

The proposed licensing of bike-sharing operations might slow down Singapore’s move towards a car-lite future, said oBike.

The Ministry of Transport (MOT) recently proposed amendments to the Parking Places Act (PPA) to implement a licensing regime for bike-sharing operators as part of its efforts to address indiscriminate parking of bicycles in public places.

Under the proposed licensing regime, LTA will set a maximum number of active mobility devices an operator can own, as well as impose standards to require the operators remove indiscriminate parked devices in a timely manner.

“Whilst we welcome guidelines by the authorities, the move to introduce licensing regimes instead of educating users, places a heavy burden on start-ups, which in turn means that bike sharing users will suffer. This will mean that existing public and private transport options will forced to capacity and puts the brakes on moving Singapore towards a car-lite future," said Tim Phang, general manager of oBike in an interview with Singapore Business Review.

Phang reiterated that public education is the key to accelerate bike-sharing as a viable commuting option in the country, and not simply imposing fines to operators.

The amendments, when accepted, will impose hefty penalties to disobedient operators such as a fine of up to $100,000, reductions in fleet size, and suspension or cancellation of their licences.

“oBike is committed to working closely with the authorities, to educate Singaporeans on cycling etiquette,” Phang added.

Moreover, other bike-sharing operators also welcome the proposed amendments to the PPA. Some of them have already schemes in place to better manage and ensure that their devices are parked properly.

“We appreciate LTA’s support of bike-sharing in Singapore, and we are in favour of developing a healthy market environment,” said Sharon Meng, country manager of Mobike Singapore.

“All Mobikes are equipped with our proprietary smart lock, which is connected to our robust IoT platform and enables us to track and manage our fleet of smart bikes in real-time. Because of this technology, as well as the high-quality of the bicycles, Mobike maintains an optimised and efficient fleet,” Meng continued.

oBike in May will launch a geofencing feature on its platform to determine if the users park the bicycles properly.

“Our geofencing feature…will start to penalise or reward users according to their riding behaviour. Once this is implemented, there will be designated parking areas, which will serve as recognisable points where users can identify as areas in which they can pick up and park oBike bicycles,” said Phang.

Meanwhile, ofo has a credit system which provides users with reward points when they park the bicycles properly.

“We are committed to collaborating with the LTA and other partners to ensure ofo bikes are used in a respectful manner and stored in a way that maintains the cleanliness and order of the environment in Singapore,” said Christopher Hilton, head of Policy & Communications of ofo in Southeast Asia.

“We have a credit system which rewards good user behaviour and points are given to users when bikes are being parked in the right zones. To date, ofo has awarded more than 300,000 points for proper parking behaviour,” he furthered. 

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