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Oral Reply by Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Lam Pin Min to Parliamentary Question on E-scooter Ban on Footpaths

06 Jan 2020 In Parliament

Mr Zainal Sapari asked the Minister for Transport given the ban on users of personal mobility devices from all footpaths, whether there are plans to distinguish the different types of public paths so as to avoid confusion.

Mr Zainal Sapari asked the Minister for Transport whether there are plans to regulate the usage of electric bicycles on the roads in terms of age, insurance coverage, traffic rules and others.

Mr Ang Wei Neng asked the Minister for Transport

a.     how many people have been warned for riding e-scooters on footpaths since 5 November 2019;

b.     how many e-scooter riders have been summoned for speeding and other offences since 5 November 2019;

c.     how many e-scooter riders have signed up for the trade-in grant to convert to e-bicycles or other personal mobility devices; and

d.     how many more kilometers of cycling paths will be built by end-2020.

Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong asked the Minister for Transport whether the Government has committed additional resources to police the ban of PMDs from footpaths from January 2020 such that the public will not witness the same level of day-to-day flagrant breaches of law by errant e-scooter users as seen prior to the announcement of the ban.

Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong asked the Minister for Transport in light of some food delivery riders switching from e-scooters to electric bikes

a.     whether the Government is putting in place additional measures to ensure that the increase in electric bike riders will not lead to more accidents or road traffic or active mobility offences; and

b.     whether such riders will be given sufficient training sessions to encourage all to ride responsibly and considerately.

Reply by Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Lam Pin Min:

Restoring Footpath Safety

1.     The decision to ban e-scooters on footpaths is to restore footpath safety. Since the implementation of the ban on 5 November 2019, the number of accidents involving e-scooters on public paths has dropped by about 30%. As we step up enforcement, we can expect further reduction in such accidents. From a recent telephone poll commissioned by REACH, two out of three respondents agreed that safety on footpaths had improved since the ban.

2.     Till 31 December 2019, LTA had issued about 6000 advisories to remind riders on the new regulations, and more than 300 summons against reckless riders.

3.     Since 1 January this year, LTA has imposed strict enforcement. Those caught riding an e-scooter on footpaths are liable for fines up to $2,000 and/or face imprisonment of up to 3 months, if convicted. LTA has expanded its team of active mobility enforcement officers, including Auxiliary Police Officers, from about 100 to 182 officers. Recruitment efforts are underway and LTA targets to enlarge the team to 200 soon. LTA has also deployed technology trials using roving CCTVs to complement existing enforcement efforts. So far, 27 errant riders have been caught.

Transition Assistance Package

4.     The ban of e-scooters on footpaths has an immediate impact on the livelihoods of some riders. This is why we launched the Transition Assistance Package. This includes the e-scooter trade-in grant (eTG), to help food delivery riders switch to alternative devices. There are about 6,120 food delivery riders who have done at least one delivery over the 30-day period prior to the ban and are eligible for the grant. Among them, about 34%, or 2,100 do four deliveries or more per day. As of 31 December 2019, LTA has received 3,550 applications from eligible riders and approved all applications after accounting for duplicates. 20% of these applicants have transited to alternative devices. To facilitate the transition, food delivery companies have offered free bicycle rentals to the riders who are waiting for their new devices.

5.     Other partners have also leaned forward. Workforce Singapore and NTUC’s e2i are providing career placement support for riders who wish to transit to a different job. MSF and People’s Association have offered temporary financial assistance to affected riders in need.

6.     As some e-scooter users may switch to using power-assisted bicycles (PABs), NTUC launched a fully subsidised safe riding programme to support food delivery riders in making such transition. As of end-December 2019, 130 riders have completed the NTUC programme. This is useful as on-road accidents involving PABs are not uncommon. From January to November last year, there were 21 such accidents. LTA is working with Traffic Police on greater public education and awareness efforts.

Strengthening Regulations

7.     We are updating the regulatory regime for PABs. All PAB riders must comply with road traffic regulations such as travelling in the direction of traffic, wearing helmets and riding safely. Their PABs need to be registered and only LTA-approved models are allowed to be used in Singapore. These LTA-approved models are pedal-assisted PABs and without throttles, where gradual motor assistance is provided as the user pedals, but is gradually reduced and cut-off as the PAB reaches a speed of 25 km/hr. In addition, they have to comply with the EN15194 device safety standard for electrical and fire safety.

8.     Since November 2019, we have caught 70 non-compliant PABs. Non-compliant PABs caught will be seized and forfeited. The offenders can face a maximum fine of $5,000 and/or imprisonment of three months.

9.     Over the last few years, we have strengthened our active mobility regulatory regime, including mandating e-scooter registration. The Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP) has been a great help. The Government has accepted the latest set of AMAP recommendations. I will shortly introduce a bill to amend the Active Mobility Act to strengthen the regulatory regime. This includes setting minimum riding ages, requiring third-party liability insurance coverage, and introducing mandatory theory tests.

Expediting Cycling Path Development

10.    At the same time, we are upgrading the cycling infrastructure. First, we have implemented improved markings on footpaths, to clearly distinguish them from cycling paths. There will be logos indicating ‘No PMD’ at selected intersections of footpaths and cycling paths, to indicate that e-scooters will not be allowed on footpaths.

11.    Second, we are stepping up the construction of cycling paths to improve first-and-last-mile connectivity within towns. We had previously announced a plan to extend the network of cycling paths from 440km to 750km by 2025 and 1,300km by 2030. We will accelerate the pace of implementation, by a few years. We are discussing with HDB, NParks and the local Town Councils on a practical timeline. We are also discussing with MOF to secure additional funding for this purpose. Our preliminary estimate is that we may have to spend more than $1 billion to complete the island-wide cycling path network. We will provide more details at the Committee of Supply.

Conclusion

12.    Finally, let me take this opportunity to thank Members of this House for your advice and many suggestions. I look forward to your continued support.