Why bicycle registration was stopped in Singapore in 1982

SINGAPORE – An increasing number of bicycle thefts in the early 1980s was keeping the police tied up at the expense of more of urgent police work.

This was among the reasons why bicycle registration was stopped in 1982, according to archival reports from The Straits Times.

Calls for bicycle registration has been growing recently, most notably by actor Tay Ping Hui and Temasek chief executive Ho Ching. But it would mark a U-turn on an issue that the authorities in the past had stood against.

The Registry of Vehicles (ROV), which regulated bicycles then, had announced its plan to scrap the registration scheme in October 1981.

It had stopped issuing bicycle number plates around then after it used up all its number plates.

The main purpose of bicycle registration then was not to identify errant cyclists, but as a safeguard against bicycle theft.

ROV was reported to have said then that the $5 fee for registration was hardly enough to cover the increased cost of number plates.

It had also considered the amount of work involved in keeping the records and issuing number plates, which had in turn offered little or no protection for owners if bicycles are stolen. Only 2 per cent of lost bicycles were recovered then.

But ROV’s plan sparked objections from bicycle dealers, who were worried that people would not buy bicycles without registration. Some even said then that sales had slowed down after ROV stopped issuing number plates to owners of new bicycles.

But their appeal to keep the registration system was eventually rejected by ROV. In February 1982, ROV ended bicycle registration.

This meant that owners of bicycles and tricycles were no longer be required to bring the vehicles to ROV’s office to emboss the registration numbers on the frame.

ROV had said the process was time-consuming and labour-intensive, besides being inconvenient for the buyers.

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