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Speech for Second Reading of Active Mobility (Amendment) Bill 2020 and Shared Mobility Enterprises (Control And Licensing) Bill 2020

04 Feb 2020 Speeches

1.     Mr Deputy Speaker, on behalf of the Minister for Transport, I beg to move, “That the Bill be now read a second time”.

2.     This Bill is linked to the next Bill on the Order Paper, the Shared Mobility Enterprises (Control and Licensing) Bill 2020 (or the “Shared Mobility Enterprises Bill”).

3.     Sir, with your permission, I would like to propose that the substantive debate on both Bills take place together. This will allow a holistic debate and enable Members to raise questions or express their views on both Bills during the debate. We will still have the formal Second Reading of the Shared Mobility Enterprises Bill to ensure that procedural requirements are dealt with. 

Introduction

4.     The term “active mobility devices” refers to personal mobility devices (PMDs), power-assisted bicycles (PABs), bicycles and personal mobility aids (PMAs). Such active mobility devices and new business models for the sharing of these devices have changed the way Singaporeans commute. In 2017, the House passed the Active Mobility Act 2017, which allowed bicycles and PMDs to be used on public paths, including footpaths and cycling paths, and for PABs to be used on cycling paths.

5.     The take-up rate of active mobility devices grew dramatically over the last three years. These devices provide a cheaper, cleaner and more convenient commuting option. But as the device population grew, there were concerns about whether our infrastructure and regulatory framework were adequate.

6.     In November 2019, we reviewed our regulations and took the difficult but necessary step to ban e-scooters from footpaths. Since then, footpath accidents involving PMDs have reduced by 52%, and sentiments towards public path safety have improved. The Active Mobility (Amendment) Bill 2020 (“Active Mobility Bill”) gives effect to our earlier announced intention to extend the ban on footpaths to all motorised PMDs. With the amendments in this Bill, only non-motorised active mobility devices such as bicycles and kick-scooters, and PMAs will be allowed on footpaths. The exception for motorised PMAs is for the benefit of those who have difficulty walking.

7.     We recognise this connectivity loss for motorised PMD users, and we are ramping up our cycling path infrastructure building plans, so that Singaporeans can continue to benefit from active mobility devices. We will announce more about these infrastructure plans during the Committee of Supply debate.

8.     Collectively, these two Bills will help us to build a regulatory framework for safer and sustainable active mobility landscape here in Singapore.

Bill Provisions

9.     The two Bills will give us powers to effectively regulate individual active mobility device users, retailers, businesses and device-sharing operators, all of whom have a role to play to ensure public path safety.

Individual Device Users

10.    The rules and regulations governing user behaviour were developed in consultation with the Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP). This body has representatives from seniors, youths, device users and grassroots leaders. AMAP also regularly consults other stakeholders. The Panel has made further recommendations to strengthen regulations on active mobility device users. We have studied them, and announced that we will accept them. We will tighten the regulatory regime for device users in three ways.

11.    First, we need to ensure that riders are mature enough and have sufficient understanding of the rules to behave responsibly. This is especially important for riders of motorised active mobility devices, which have the potential to travel fast and cause great harm to others.

12.    To improve awareness of the rules, regulations and expected safe riding behaviours, we will require riders of certain active mobility devices (which we call “test-needed-to-drive vehicles” in the Bill) to pass a theory test before they are allowed to ride. We will start with e-scooter and PAB riders. Those who successfully complete the required tests will be issued a competency test certificate. It will be an offence to ride an e-scooter or a PAB on public paths without this competency test certificate. As PABs are also allowed to be used on roads, PAB riders will similarly be required by Traffic Police to pass a theory test before they can ride on roads.

13.    Active mobility devices are generally very easy to operate, and so we are starting first with a theory test. This is a calibrated approach to improve awareness of rules and regulations, while managing the regulatory burden on device users. If necessary, LTA will have the flexibility to introduce other types of tests, such as practical riding tests, in the future. Under the new section 23G, even if riders have passed the earlier test, LTA can also require them to take new tests.

14.    We will also introduce a minimum riding age for motorised PMDs, starting with e-scooter riders. As a general rule, persons under 16 years old will not be allowed to ride an e-scooter on cycling paths. While the Act prescribes both a possible fine and jail term if a rider commits this offence of under-aged riding, these are maximum penalties. Our Courts retain discretion in imposing punishment, having regard to the circumstances of the case, and laws such as the Penal Code and the Children and Young Persons Act.

15.    The only exception to this under-aged riding provision is if the under-aged rider is riding under proper supervision by an appropriate supervisor, as recommended by AMAP. As a start, we will require the supervisor to be at least 21 years old. For example, if an adult wishes to supervise an under-aged rider to ride an e-scooter on a cycling path, the adult needs to take reasonable and practicable measures to ensure that the under-aged rider does not ride in a way dangerous to people or property, and abides by the path riding rules as per Parts 3 and 3A of the AMA. Failure to do so constitutes an offence. We will publish our guidelines to educate supervisors on how to properly supervise the under-aged rider.

16.    Second, we will tackle distracted riding by tightening user behaviour requirements. Under the new section 22A, it will be an offence to ride or drive any active mobility device or vehicle on a public path, while holding a mobile communication device and operating any of the communication device’s functions. This is already the case today for motorists under the Road Traffic Act (RTA), and we will further extend the RTA to cover all vehicles used on roads, including bicycles. A person who is holding and using a mobile communication device may be distracted, and may not have both hands on handlebars or steering wheels, both of which affect their ability to effectively control the device or vehicle when it is moving.

17.    We will update and clarify provisions to take into account new technological developments in mobile communication devices such as wearables. As a general rule, we will continue to allow such devices to be used, so long as the user is wearing the wearable device in accordance with the manufacturer’s design while riding.

18.    Third, we will put in place additional measures to ensure that users only use compliant active mobility devices on public paths. The current registration regime only requires e-scooter owners to declare that their devices are compliant. Through the new sections 35A, 35B and 35C of the Bill, we will introduce a mandatory inspection regime, starting with e-scooters. Riders will only be able to ride on public paths e-scooters that have been inspected and certified to be compliant with the prescribed device criteria, such as those relating to weight, width, speed and UL2272 certification. LTA will be rostering e-scooters that are already registered and declared as UL2272-certified for inspections. LTA will also periodically call up certified and registered e-scooters for re-inspections every two years to ensure that they remain compliant and are not illegally modified.

19.    We will also require active mobility device owners to take extra care to ensure that their devices are not illegally modified. If an owner had his or her device inspected and certified to be compliant, but the device was subsequently found to be non-compliant while in their ownership, the owner will be presumed, until the contrary is proved, to have either modified the device, or caused the device to be modified.

20.    Most device users are largely law-abiding and ride responsibly. However, LTA’s enforcement officers detected about 4,900 offences in 2019. This is not acceptable. To send a stronger deterrent message to this group, we will increase the maximum penalties for certain offences. We will generally double the penalties of key user behaviour offences. For example, the penalty for a first-time offender caught speeding on public paths will be doubled from $1,000 and/or 3 months’ imprisonment to $2,000 and/or 6 months’ imprisonment.

Retailers

21.    Apart from users, retailers must also behave responsibly when advertising and selling active mobility devices. In 2019, there were 28 instances where retailers were caught for various offences, including displaying and advertising non-compliant active mobility devices. We will tighten the regulatory regime for retailers in three ways.

22.    First, to complement the mandatory inspection regime for e-scooter owners, we will also require retailers to send e-scooters for inspection to certify that they comply with the prescribed device criteria before they are allowed to register, display, advertise or sell the e-scooters. Such an arrangement will benefit consumers for assurance that the e-scooter they purchase is compliant. We will retain the flexibility to extend this to other active mobility devices in future if necessary.

23.    Second, we will strengthen LTA’s ability to enforce against illegal modifications. Today, the controls over illegal modifications only cover modifications done to an active mobility device belonging to another person, and done in the course of business. This means that an individual can circumvent these controls by claiming that he or she is modifying their own device, or is modifying the device as a friend for free. We will expand Part 4 of the AMA to cover all modification activities on active mobility devices that are allowed for use on public paths, whether or not undertaken in the course of business. This is because all illegally modified devices can pose public path safety and fire safety risks.

24.    Third, errant retailers who sell non-compliant active mobility devices have a disproportionately large impact on public path safety. To send a strong deterrent message, we will significantly increase penalties for retailer offences. For example, the penalty for selling a non-compliant device for use on public paths will be increased by more than four times, from $5,000 and/or 3 months’ imprisonment to $20,000 and/or 24 months’ imprisonment, for a first-time offender who is an individual. We will also introduce higher fines for corporate entities that cannot be subject to imprisonment. Hence, for the offence of selling a non-compliant device for use on public paths, we will further double the fine to $40,000 for a first-time offender that is a corporate entity.

Businesses

25.    Businesses using active mobility devices on paths have a responsibility towards riders and members of the public in the course of their business. To provide victims greater recourse to compensation, we will require certain businesses to ensure that their riders are covered by third-party liability insurance for death or bodily injury to any person that the rider may incur when riding on public paths. We will start by imposing this requirement on our device-sharing operators who are licensed under the Shared Mobility Enterprises Bill, and businesses who employ or contract with riders who ride active mobility devices on public paths for work, such as food delivery companies.

26.    Our approach is based on AMAP’s recommendation to adopt a staged approach, starting first with imposing insurance requirements on certain businesses before extending it to individuals. We are working with AMAP and the insurance industry to study how best to extend such insurance requirements to individual active mobility device riders.

Device-Sharing Operators

27.    Sir, if I may now move on to the Shared Mobility Enterprises Bill. Businesses which provide active mobility devices to be ridden on public paths as part of their business have a special responsibility.

28.    The device-sharing licensing regime, which was established in February 2018 under the Parking Places Act (PPA), focused on tackling indiscriminate device parking, particularly by shared bicycles. It regulated device-sharing services that operate in public places. Today, we see a variety of operators using different devices, including motorised ones, causing problems with parking and safety. For example, there have been operators who provide e-scooters for hire on private land, and these devices were subsequently observed on public paths. Different business models are likely to be developed in the future. Thus, it is necessary to update our regulatory regime.

29.    The Shared Mobility Enterprises Bill will expand the current licensing regime in the PPA in three main ways.

30.    First, we will extend the scope of the regulatory regime beyond controlling indiscriminate parking to also focus on public safety. This will ensure that operators also play a role in improving the safety of public paths where their devices may be ridden. Second, we will expand our licensing coverage to all active mobility device-sharing services, for devices that can be used on public paths. It will not matter whether the devices are intended to be parked at public places, or not; nor whether the hirers are the general public or only a segment of the public. Third, we will have the powers to introduce a class license regime to allow us to apply a differentiated and lighter-touch regime on operators whose business model or operations pose less safety or parking concerns. Overall, this regime will result in a more comprehensive solution to cover different types of operators, but also allow us to take a calibrated approach to regulate them depending on their individual characteristics.

31.    Firstly, the Bill allows for different classes of licences to be granted. All operators who offer dockless devices for hire will be regulated under the regular licensing regime. We will take a calibrated approach in applying the safety requirements, depending on whether the operators are offering for hire motorised or non-motorised devices. The current process whereby operators have to demonstrate their ability to meet our regulatory requirements under a sandbox licence before being able to graduate to the full licence, will continue to apply. As bicycles are non-motorised and pose less of a safety concern, as a start, we will subject dockless bicycle-sharing operators to requirements that deal with parking matters only. Thus, for now, dockless bicycle-sharing operators regulated under the existing licensing regime will not experience any changes or additional requirements.

32.    There is a need to regulate device-sharing operators who offer for hire motorised devices differently from those who only offer for hire non-motorised devices because of the increased risk of harm to the rider and to the public. Presently, there is a Ministerial safety directive in force under the PPA, as a result of which LTA does not issue any licences to PMD-sharing companies, and does not accept new applications for PMD-sharing licences. Moving forward, LTA will continue to assess the public path safety situation and the readiness of the industry when assessing licence applications by those who offer motorised device-sharing services. Appropriate safety requirements will be imposed if licences are granted for this group, which may include ensuring that the motorised devices are equipped to accurately identify the device location and travelling speed, and ensuring that the devices only operate in limited geographical spaces specified by LTA. LTA will also be able to require operators to ban users who have committed serious offences from using their shared devices.

33.    Secondly, docked device-sharing operators will be regulated under the class licensing regime rather than the regular licensing regime at the start. Class licensees do not need LTA’s explicit periodic approval to operate, and only need to register with LTA soon after commencing operations. Class licensees will also be subjected to a smaller set of regulatory requirements, such as installing speedometers on their active mobility devices. This lighter-touch approach is because these docked operators, such as those who operate from a physical shopfront or who have built racks where their devices are affixed to, cause less parking disamenities due to their use of docking infrastructure. They generally have to incur higher initial infrastructure costs, which naturally restricts the scale of their operations, and correspondingly their safety impact. Notwithstanding this, LTA will have the flexibility to shift such operators into the regular licensing regime subsequently, if there is a need to do so.

34.    Even for docked device-sharing operators, we will take a calibrated approach. As a start, we intend to apply the class licensing regime only to docked device-sharing operators using motorised active mobility devices, and not to those using non-motorised devices which have fewer safety concerns. Therefore, as a start, docked bicycle sharing operators will not be required to have a regular licence or a class licence. Nonetheless, LTA will have the powers to impose the licensing regime on them as necessary.

35.    We are aware that this class licensing regime will apply to some existing and currently unlicensed operators, and we will engage these operators further to discuss the implementation details, and to provide sufficient transition time. We aim to minimise compliance costs and make the registration process easy.

Miscellaneous Amendments

36.    Apart from tightening regulations on active mobility device users, retailers, businesses and device-sharing operators, the Bills make several miscellaneous amendments. These include extending the offence of giving false information to cover all applications that persons make to LTA under the Active Mobility Act, beyond just applications to register a PMD.

Conclusion

37.    Mr Deputy Speaker, the active mobility landscape will continue to evolve, and our regulatory framework must similarly adapt. We must continue to adjust our regulatory approach to keep pace with technological and market developments. This is a long-term effort. These two Bills together make sure that we have an approach that covers the device riders, the retailers, the businesses, and device-sharing operators, and establish the principle of establishing public path safety as the primary intention, and it provides us the tools and measures to intervene further should they become necessary.

38.    This set of Bills will ensure safer paths for Singaporeans while promoting active mobility.

39.    Mr Deputy Speaker, I beg to move.