Homegrown bike hire firm quits as Singapore clamps down on haphazard parking

A GrabCycle oBike bicycle is seen on a street in Singapore March 9, 2018. Thomas White

(Reuters) - Bicycle-sharing company oBike ceased operating in its home market of Singapore on Monday, citing difficulties in meeting tightened regulations in the city-state that seek to clamp down on haphazard parking of dock-less bikes.

Bike-sharing is offered by at least four companies in Singapore, but its convenience has been overshadowed by viral online videos of bicycles blocking pedestrian walkways or being thrown into canals.

In response, the transport regulator plans to introduce rules to penalize users who do not park in designated areas.

oBike did not elaborate on the "difficulties" it faces regarding the new rules, but said the tougher regulations were not in line with its values.

"oBike strongly believes in and is committed to providing a dock-less bicycle sharing service," the company, founded in Singapore in January 2017, said on its Facebook page on Monday. "It is with regret that the new regulation measures do not favor this belief of ours."

According to local media, oBike is at least the second bike-sharing company to decide to exit Singapore after GBikes said earlier this month that it will cease operations on July 7. Other operators in the country include China's Ofo and Mobike.

The LTA earlier this year said bike-sharing companies will have to submit license applications by July 7 to operate in Singapore.

The authority will then screen companies against a list of factors including the ability of the operator to manage indiscriminate parking of shared bikes, which it said has caused "significant social disamenities".

Among the new regulations, the authorities will require users to scan a QR code at designated parking areas before they can end their ride. Repeat offences can lead to user bans.

oBike, which has 14,000 bikes and over a million users in Singapore, will continue to operate in other markets including neighboring Indonesia, where it began services in January.

(Reporting by Dewey SimEditing by Christopher Cushing)

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