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Asia Minute: Bike Sharing Hits a Snag in Singapore

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It’s been a little more than a year since bike sharing hit the streets of Honolulu. The practice has been in operation for a little longer in Singapore, but recent changes in the law have led to some dramatic changes.

It’s been a tough month for the bike-sharing business in Singapore.

Three different companies have announced plans to pull out of the market, about a year and a half after bike-sharing first came to the country. The government is requiring new licenses for operators, and several say they simply can’t meet the requirements.

Unlike in Honolulu, the bikes in Singapore don’t have docking stations. Riders are supposed to leave them in legal parking spaces, but it hasn’t always worked out that way.

People have been leaving bikes everywhere — often stacking them near subway stations or at government housing complexes. Or as the Land Transport Authority put it in a more formally-worded news release this spring, “the indiscriminate parking of shared bicycles has caused significant social disamenities.”

New rules will force the operators to “ensure that their users practice responsible parking.” That includes setting up systems so that anyone parking a bike scans in a “quick response” or QR code proving that the parking space is legal.

Credit Kentaro IEMOTO / Flickr

Companies will also face big fines if they don’t clear their bikes from illegal parking spaces within a certain time frame.

ShareBike SG was the latest company to bow out this week. The company founder told Singapore Today the new rules are “quite difficult.” Adding that he wants to change his business model to a simplified point to point bicycle rental service.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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