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Second Reading Speech by Mrs Josephine Teo, Senior Minister of State for Transport on the Active Mobility Bill

10 Jan 2017 In Parliament

1.     Madam Speaker, I beg to move, “That the Bill be now read a second time”.

2.     I would first like to thank Parliamentary Secretary A/P Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim for chairing the Active Mobility Advisory Panel, and all panel members for their contributions.  

3.     The Panel spent many months last year consulting the public on ways in which pedestrians, cyclists and users of personal mobility devices, or PMDs, can safely share public paths. They proposed a set of rules and code of conduct that strike a good balance between the diverse needs. The Government had accepted the Panel's recommendations in full, and the Active Mobility Bill now seeks to grant the Land Transport Authority the powers to implement them.

4.     Cycling and PMDs have become more popular, not just with the young and active, but even among older Singaporeans as it improves their ability to get around. This is a positive development, as active mobility is a key pillar of our vision for transport in Singapore. 

5.     Cycling and the use of PMDs are convenient and efficient ways for covering short distances, including first and last mile connections to bus interchanges or MRT stations. They are essential to Singapore's transition to car-lite mobility, centred on public transport. Cycling is also emissions-free, and contributes to a cleaner and healthier living environment. 

6.     But with the increasing popularity of bicycles and PMDs, some members of the public have understandably expressed concerns about the safety of pedestrians. Over the past year, several Members of the House have also asked thoughtful questions and raised helpful suggestions on this issue. 

7.     There is not a shadow of doubt that pedestrian safety is paramount. The Panel made it clear that active mobility must be supported by a culture of graciousness and consideration for the safety of others. The experience of many cities, such as Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Tokyo, attests to this; and our aspiration must be to develop a similar culture of graciousness and consideration for everyone who shares the use of public paths. 

8.     We are still some distance away from attaining the desirable level of graciousness and consideration.  More regularly than we would like, we hear feedback about recklessness by cyclists and PMD users.  As it stands today, I'm afraid the burden lies more with cyclists and PMD users to demonstrate that the vast majority of them can be relied upon to be safety-conscious and responsible users of public paths. I'm glad that there is a growing fraternity within this group that is determined to do so.  

9.     However, as with all cultural norms, I'm realistic that it may take several years before we get to a new balance, where the different users of public paths can happily co-exist with one another.  Our approach must therefore take this into account.  

10.    We should not ban bicycles and PMDs on footpaths because of the benefits they bring, but we must also act to reduce friction between the different users.  Therefore, we will continue to build more dedicated cycling paths where possible, and at the same time, establish a set of rules and norms for cyclists and PMD users when sharing footpaths with pedestrians.  At the same time, to shape a new culture of graciousness, we will need to educate and enforce actively.  

11.    With this context, let me elaborate on the key provisions in the Bill. 

Classification of Public Paths and Allowable Devices

12.    First, the Bill will set out clearly where bicycles, PMDs and power-assisted bikes, or PABs, can be used. Clauses 6 to 8 empower LTA to define, and declare, what constitutes a public path where the provisions of this Bill will apply. In general, all paths in Singapore will be covered by the Bill, except private land, restricted areas such as military camps and Jurong Island, and areas where access is ticketed, such as the Singapore Zoo and Sentosa. The use of bicycles, PMDs and PABs in these areas will continue to be regulated by their respective land-owners or managers.

13.    Clauses 15 to 18 outline the types of devices that are permitted on public paths. The first category of public paths are “footpaths”. The regulations will specify that bicycles and PMDs, which are allowed on footpaths, must travel below 15km/h, similar to an average person's running speed. PABs will, however, not be allowed on footpaths, as they pose a greater danger to pedestrians.

14.    The second category of public paths includes today's dedicated and shared cycling paths, and park connectors. These are collectively defined as “shared paths” under the Bill. We will allow bicycles, PMDs and PABs on these shared paths. We will also permit a slightly higher speed limit of 25km/h. These shared paths will be clearly demarcated by signs and markings.

15.    The third category of paths are “pedestrian-only paths”. This refers to paths which are not suitable for cycling nor the use of PMDs and PABs. Examples include elevated bridges with low railing heights or steep ramps, such as pedestrian overhead bridges. This will be made clear through “No Riding” signs.

16.    These are the key rules to regulate the types of devices allowed on public paths. A person who flouts these rules will be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000, or to imprisonment not exceeding three months, or both. 

17.    In addition, the regulations will specify the criteria for bicycles and PMDs that are permitted for use on public paths.  They must not weigh more than 20kg, be wider than 70cm, or have a maximum device speed exceeding 25km/h, to be considered compliant. PABs are already required to satisfy a more detailed set of requirements under the Road Traffic Act. Clause 19 of the Bill prohibits the use of non-compliant devices on public paths. Those who contravene this rule will be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months, or both.

Regulating Behaviour of Users of Public Paths

18.    Next, the Active Mobility Bill will allow LTA to apply more stringent penalties for cyclists and users of PMDs and PABs who are caught riding in an unsafe or reckless manner. Clauses 21 and 22 impose steep penalties upon conviction, which include a fine not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both. 

19.    In addition, Clause 23 makes it an offence if a cyclist, PMD user or PAB rider does not stop to render assistance in an accident. Those found contravening this rule will be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $3,000 or to imprisonment for not exceeding 12 months or both. These penalties will be in addition to the existing penalty under the Penal Code for causing hurt to others by a rash act.

Regulating Sale of Devices

20.    We will also regulate the sale of devices and take stronger enforcement action against sellers of non-compliant devices.  Clauses 30 and 32, together with related amendments to the Road Traffic Act, ban the display and advertisement of non-compliant devices. Clause 34 prohibits the sale of non-compliant devices for use on public paths, while Clause 35 makes it an offence to modify devices in a manner that makes them non-compliant. These offences come with hefty penalties. Sellers found displaying or advertising a non-compliant PMD will be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000, or to imprisonment for not exceeding three months, or both. Those found selling non-compliant devices or illegally modifying PMDs will be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000, or to imprisonment for not exceeding three months, or both.

Enforcement

21.    The Bill will grant LTA stronger and more expansive enforcement powers, for better deterrence and enforcement against errant users and sellers of non-compliant devices. 

22.    LTA has already been deploying Active Mobility Enforcement Officers to educate the public on the rules and norms in the Bill. When the Bill is passed, LTA officers will be able to also issue notices of offence to, and prosecute offenders. 

23.    To improve the effectiveness of enforcement, Clause 44 will allow LTA enforcement officers to enter and inspect businesses suspected of committing offences such as illegally modifying devices and selling non-compliant devices. Clauses 50 and 51 empower LTA to seize and forfeit non-compliant devices. 

24.    Clauses 45 to 49 will grant LTA enforcement officers other powers to allow them to carry out their duties effectively. These include but are not limited to powers to remove obstructions from public paths; to examine bicycles, PMDs and PABs; to demand information for identification of suspected offenders; and to arrest persons who refuse to cooperate. 

25.    LTA's enforcement efforts will be supported by NParks and Traffic Police. Clause 39 empowers LTA to appoint employees of other public authorities, such as NParks, as public path wardens, who will then have the same powers to carry out enforcement in parks and along park connectors. 

Education

26.    Education is equally important if we are to develop a culture of safety and graciousness. LTA has enlisted the help of Active Mobility Patrol Volunteers from the community and grassroots in this regard. The volunteers can also serve as useful 'eyes' to detect errant behaviour. Hence, Clause 41 grants limited powers to the volunteers, to allow them to obtain personal particulars from suspected offenders, to advise them to stop engaging in offending conduct, and to document evidence. The volunteers will, however, not be given more intrusive powers, such as to inspect, seize and forfeit devices, nor powers of arrest. 

27.    Clause 55(2)(b) will empower LTA, with the approval of the Public Prosecutor, to require offenders of compoundable offences to attend LTA's Safe Cycling Programme before they are allowed to compound the offences. Offenders who fail to complete the Programme will be charged in court.

Related Amendments

28.    We will make a few amendments to related Acts. The Road Traffic Act will be amended to prohibit the use of PMDs on public roads, for the safety of the riders and other motorists. 

29.    We will also be making amendments to the subsidiary legislation under the Road Traffic Act to mandate the registration of PABs, which are more prone to illegal modification and have a greater potential to cause serious injury. Every PAB used on public roads and public paths will henceforth be required to carry a registration plate and be registered to an owner. 

Summary

30.    In summary, Madam Speaker, this Bill empowers LTA to regulate the sale and use of bicycles, PMDs and PABs on public paths. It will allow us to safeguard the safety of pedestrians even as we encourage active mobility.

31.    Our aim is to shape a culture where there is gracious and considerate sharing of public paths.  While cultural norms take time to develop, we can support their formation through appropriate rules and enforcement. We will continue to monitor the situation on the ground and evolve these rules as necessary to promote active mobility in support of a car-lite Singapore.

32.    Madam Speaker, I beg to move.