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Oral Reply by Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Janil Puthucheary to Parliamentary Question on Active Mobility

07 Oct 2019 In Parliament

Mr Alex Yam Ziming asked the Minister for Transport

a.     what is the public feedback so far since the implementation of a ban on PMD use at void decks and common corridors at 15 towns on 1 September 2019; 

b.     whether the number of reported incidents has reduced since the implementation; and

c.     whether the ban has had any impact on food and goods delivery during the last one month. 

Mr Lim Biow Chuan asked the Minister for Transport what is the estimated cost of LTA's early disposal incentive for e-scooters which do not meet the UL2272 safety standard and who will bear such costs.

Er Dr Lee Bee Wah asked the Minister for Transport since the start of the mandatory registration of e-scooters in July 2019 

a.     how many illegally modified e-scooters have been seized;

b.     how does LTA keep check on e-scooter users who illegally modify their vehicles after being certified LTA-approved; and

c.     whether the penalties will be enhanced for owners of illegally modified e-scooters. 

Reply by Senior Minister of State Dr Janil Puthucheary:

1.     On 21 September, a young e-scooter rider collided with an elderly cyclist, Madam Ong Bee Eng, at Bedok North Street 3. Madam Ong sustained serious injuries and passed away a few days later. We are deeply saddened by the incident and would like to offer our deepest condolences to Madam Ong’s family. 

2.     This particular accident happened not on a pedestrian footpath, but on a dedicated cycling path where the speed limit is 25 kilometres per hour. Furthermore, the e-scooter was an unregistered and non-compliant device. It was bought online and that particular device model can go up to 80 kilometres per hour. Its usage is illegal.

3.     This accident has caused public alarm over the dangers that personal mobility devices (PMDs) pose to others, and has heightened fears for the safety of pedestrians using footpaths, particularly the old and the young. We share Singaporeans’ concerns. With PMD use increasing, the number of accidents involving PMDs has gone up. We need footpaths to be safe for pedestrians again. We are determined to improve footpath safety back to the levels we had before PMDs were allowed onto footpaths. 

4.     On 5 August 2019, Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Lam Pin Min explained in this House our plans to strengthen public path safety and reduce PMD-related fire risks. Given the recent developments, we will revisit the plans, to see where we need to rethink our approach and to introduce additional measures. Please give us a month or two to do this thorough review.

5.     PMDs are useful devices for first-and-last mile connectivity, if they are used responsibly. But their usage must not endanger device users and pedestrians. Ideally, there should be a clear separation of traffic – pedestrians on footpaths, active mobility devices on dedicated paths for PMDs and bicycles, and motor vehicles on roads. Because of infrastructure constraints, we allow pedestrians and bicycles to use footpaths, as a second best practical solution. New towns will allow such a separation, but existing towns currently do not have many dedicated paths for PMDs. This poses an immediate challenge for PMD users.

6.     LTA is working with MPs to identify hotspots where we can do something quickly to improve safety, for example by widening footpaths and installing speed-regulating strips. We will also speed up the development of dedicated paths for PMDs and bicycles. Full implementation of such infrastructure enhancements will take time - years. Meanwhile, we have to make a decision on where to allow PMDs to be used, other than on dedicated paths for PMDs and bicycles – on footpaths, or on roads, or not at all until the town is ready?

7.     These are difficult choices. We will re-examine them and re-discuss with the stakeholders. In the meantime, we strongly urge PMD users to be extra responsible and mindful of others. If their behaviour does not improve, we may have no choice but to ban their usage completely from Singapore. This would be a loss. 

8.     Meanwhile, LTA is working with the Town Councils to implement Pedestrian Only Zones (POZs) at all the town centres. As there are implementation details to iron out, we will create POZs in stages. We will do so as soon as the Town Councils are ready. 

9.     Let me now address the questions posed by Mr Alex Yam, Er Dr Lee Bee Wah and Mr Lim Biow Chuan. Mr Alex Yam asked about public feedback on the 15 Town Councils’ ban of bicycles, power-assisted bicycles and PMD usage in void decks and common property areas. There have been mixed reactions, with some welcoming the move to enhance safety, and others expressing concerns about reduced connectivity. There has not been a noticeable drop in reported incidents yet, as we are still in a two-month advisory period until 31 October 2019. We expect the full impact to be clearer, after the Town Councils begin enforcement action. With regard to Mr Yam’s question about the impact on food and goods delivery, LTA does not have such statistics. But we have not received adverse feedback from delivery companies, as deliveries are largely done via motorcycles and delivery vehicles. 

10.    To Er Dr Lee Bee Wah’s query, LTA had seized 161 non-compliant PMDs from July to September 2019. These included some which were illegally modified. Beyond mandatory inspections at the point of registration, e-scooters will be called up for inspections every 2 years. LTA is studying upstream measures, including import controls, to tackle the problem of non-compliant PMDs. LTA is also reviewing the penalties for illegal modification of PMDs and other offences.

11.    Mr Lim asked about the costs of LTA’s early disposal incentive for non-UL2272 devices. Under the scheme, Government covers the disposal costs and owners of registered e-scooters will qualify for an incentive of $100 if they dispose their devices before 30 November 2019. Between 23 September and 3 October 2019, LTA received more than 2,800 applications for the early disposal incentive scheme and collected more than 940 PMDs at the designated disposal points. We strongly urge owners of non-UL2272 devices to come forward early with their devices. Every non-UL2272 device safely disposed of is one less potential fire risk.