E-scooters on footpath ban: GrabFood expects possible delays in deliveries, Deliveroo says ‘minimal impact’

(AFP via Getty Images, Yahoo News Singapore file photos)
(AFP via Getty Images, Yahoo News Singapore file photos)

UPDATE: Statement from a foodpanda spokesperson on the ban.

SINGAPORE — Food delivery service provider GrabFood said customers may have to wait longer for their orders this week as the ban on the use of e-scooters on footpaths takes effect on Tuesday (5 November).

In contrast, rival Deliveroo expects “minimal impact” from the measure announced by Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min in Parliament on Monday.

The upcoming ban comes amid a surge in the number of accidents involving e-scooters and pedestrians.

A GrabFood spokesperson said in a statement on Monday that the provider is reaching out to its riders by the end of this week, adding that customers may experience an increase in cancellations by those “who may not be able to cover the delivery distance on foot”.

Currently, more than a third of GrabFood riders rely on e-scooters for their work and will have to consider other modes of transport, which may not be readily available, the spokesperson added.

Grab plans to discuss with the authorities on allowing its riders “who have displayed responsible riding behaviours the option to continue using e-scooters under certain conditions for delivery”.

In a separate statement, Deliveroo said it based its projection on a proportionately smaller fleet of its riders using personal mobility devices (PMDs) and power-assisted bicycles (PABs).

Riders of these devices constitute five per cent of Deliveroo’s overall fleet of 6,000 and the provider had also stopped recruiting new riders using PMDs from May due to regulatory changes, according to a spokesperson.

If any riders were found to be using e-scooters on footpaths from Tuesday, Deliveroo will stop working with them, the spokesperson added.

Foodpanda said that it does not foresee any “significant impact” to food deliveries. About 12 per cent of its fleet of over 8,000 riders use PMDs, and the company said that it is working with partners to offer a change in mode of transport “at an affordable rate”.

This will also be offered to PMD riders across Singapore, its spokesperson added, including those from other food delivery companies who may be affected by the ban.

The spokesperson also said that it is communicating with its PMD riders “on the urgency of the matter and to ensure compliance with the new regulation through multiple platforms – emails, a dedicated rider website, physical rider hubs, and a Telegram channel, where riders are receiving real-time updates”.

In total, about 7,000 food delivery riders across the three service providers use PMDs.

Lam told Parliament that the government is aware that the ban will have an impact on the food delivery companies and has engaged the three companies.

Said Lam, “The LTA will work with the food delivery companies to allow as many of their delivery riders to switch to motorcycles or bicycles.”

With the ban, riders of e-scooters will 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.

Calling the ban a “difficult decision”, Lam stressed that 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”.

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.

PMDs, as well as bicycles and PABs, were earlier banned from void decks and all common areas of 15 housing estates in September, where offenders may be fined up to $5,000. This ban does not apply to personal mobility aids, such as motorised wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

A total of 228 accidents involving PMDs on public paths were reported in 2017 and 2018. Of these accidents, 196 cases involved injuries.

There are currently about 100,000 registered e-scooters in Singapore.

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