SINGAPORE — Amid a rise in the number of accidents involving e-scooters and pedestrians, and stronger calls from the public for the ban of such devices on shared spaces, the government will ban their use on footpaths effective from Tuesday (5 November).
The move comes one-and-a-half years after the Active Mobility Act fully kicked in, allowing the use of e-scooters on footpaths, which are typically just 1.5m wide.
Announcing the turnaround in Parliament on Monday (4 November), Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said, “As more accidents occur, the calls for a total ban on PMD (personal mobility device) usage gets louder.”
He added, “This ban of e-scooters from footpaths is a difficult decision. But it is a necessary step for pedestrians to feel safe again on public paths, while still allowing e-scooters to grow in tandem with cycling path infrastructure.”
Lam was responding to MPs Sitoh Yih Pin, Dennis Tan and Lim Biow Chuan who asked for the transport ministry’s plans to improve safety on footpaths.
There are currently about 100,000 registered e-scooters in Singapore.
With the ban, e-scooters will now be restricted to cycling paths and the park connector network. There are currently more than 5,500km of footpaths compared with 440km of cycling paths.
In his speech, Lam noted that France last week banned e-scooters on pavements, following hundreds of accidents and several deaths. And Japan also prohibits such devices on footpaths.
He said, “Cities have allowed the use of such devices on footpaths as they are non-pollutive, inexpensive and, if properly used, convenient for short intra-town travels. We expected the co-sharing of footpaths to be challenging but were hopeful that with public education, PMD users would be gracious and responsible. Unfortunately, this was not so.”
Land Transport Authority (LTA) enforcement officers nab a monthly average of 370 errant riders who use non-compliant devices or ride dangerously.
To allow e-scooter users to adjust to the ban, there will be an “advisory period” until the end of the year. While errant users may still be prosecuted, most will likely be let off with a warning.
From 1 January, there will be strict enforcement of the ban, with those caught flouting it liable to a fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to three month’s jail.
The ban will not apply to personal mobility aids such as motorised wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Bicycles will also still be allowed on footpaths. The ban against e-bikes or power-assisted bicycles on footpaths has been in effect since May 2018.
When asked if the ban will apply to hoverboards and unicycles - which are categorised as PMDs alongside e-scooters - the LTA said, “We will progressively extend the ban to other motorised PMDs by the first quarter of 2020. In the meantime, LTA will issue warnings to all motorised PMD riders found riding on footpaths.”
Impact on food delivery
Lam also told Parliament that the government is aware that the ban will have an impact on the food delivery companies and has engaged the major firms - Foodpanda, GrabFood and Deliveroo.
Said Lam, “We understand from the major food delivery companies that their deliveries are largely done by motorcycles and delivery vehicles. Less than 30 per cent of Deliveroo and FoodPanda’s riders use e-scooters. LTA will work with the food delivery companies to allow as many of their delivery riders to switch to motorcycles or bicycles.”
The government is also ramping up the construction of cycling paths. By 2025, there will be 750km of such paths, up from the 400km currently. All HDB towns will also have a cycling path network by 2030.
In line with safety concerns regarding the use of e-scooters on footpaths, LTA will also stop accepting new applications for PMD-sharing licences. LTA will also reject existing applications.
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