Local ride-hailing firm Grab announced on Friday (9 March) an upcoming marketplace app that allows customers to rent bicycles and e-scooters, in a move that marked its official foray into the shared bike and personal mobility device space.
For a start, GrabCycle, touted to be the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, will allow customers access to four local mobility partners – oBike, GBikes, Anywheel and Popscoot – via a single platform.
Currently in the beta testing phase, GrabCycle will be available for download in “the first half” of 2018. For now, users have to link GrabCycle to the main Grab app to set up and use GrabPay credit.
The app is also the first project by GrabVentures, Grab’s innovation arm set up to test new mobility and payment concepts.
Speaking at the GrabCycle launch in Sentosa, Reuben Lai, head of GrabVentures, noted that according to company research, about 20 per cent of car rides in Singapore are 3km and under.
Grab aims to “convert this segment of commuters into bike-sharing users” and work “towards a car-lite and green vision of Singapore”, said Lai.
He declined to comment on the number of mobility devices available via the app at launch, but said that they are speaking to other bike-sharing operators.
The ride-hailing firm will also be placing dedicated GrabCycle parking stations at Sentosa, its first venue partner, as part of efforts to curb indiscriminate parking.
A Grab spokesperson told Yahoo News Singapore that the company is currently “speaking to industrial areas, malls and attractions”, and other venue partners will be announced at a later date.
Grab has also partnered with supply chain solutions company YCH to manage proper parking and rebalancing of GrabCycle vehicles at venue partners’ locations.
“We are happy to support (the authorities) and explore various technologies to allow users to park responsibly… as well as help the authorities figure out where they can locate cycling paths and parking areas,” Lai added.
Under the Parking Places (Amendment) Bill tabled in Parliament on Monday, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) can now set a maximum fleet size for bike-sharing operators, in a bid to address indiscriminate parking of shared bicycles.
The LTA will also implement a QR code-enabled geo-fencing solution in the second half of 2018. Operators may also be required to continuously charge or collectively ban – for a limited period – repeat offenders who park the mobility devices indiscriminately.
Operators that do not comply with the LTA’s standards and conditions will face regulatory sanctions such as financial penalties of up to $100,000, reductions in fleet size, suspension or even cancellation of their licences.
Separately, Lai declined to comment when asked about the reported acquisition of Uber’s regional business by Grab.
Bloomberg reported on Thursday that Grab may sign a deal this week or next to buy out Uber’s operations in certain markets in Southeast Asia. It added that Uber will take a stake in Grab.