SINGAPORE: The Active Mobility Advisory Panel on Thursday (Mar 17) submitted its proposed rules and code of conduct for the safe use of footpaths, cycling paths and shared paths to the Transport Ministry.
Among its recommendations, the 14-member panel made suggestions on the type of devices to be allowed on various paths. It recommended personal mobility aids, like motorised wheelchairs, conventional bicycles, as well as personal mobility devices like kick-scooters and hoverboards on footpaths, and on cycling and shared paths, like Park Connectors.
Previously, bicycles and personal mobility devices were not allowed on footpaths.
But while the panel recommended electric bicycles should be allowed on cycling and shared paths, they should still be banned on footpaths. It also recommended that bicycles and electric bicycles be allowed to continue being used on the roads.
In addition, the panel suggested electric bicycles be registered to facilitate enforcement against errant riders and those who illegally modify electric bicycles.
Key rules were also listed in the panel's report that it recommended be enforceable by law and which may result in penalties if not followed. These include ensuring personal mobility devices and mobility aids are equipped with lights visible from the front and back, which must be switched on when dark.
Speed limits of 15 km/h on footpaths and 25km/h on shared paths and cycling paths were also recommended.
The panel also suggested that a maximum of two are allowed to cycle side-by-side on all roads with at least two lanes in that direction with the exception of roads with bus lanes during bus operational hours. Cycling against the flow of traffic on roads should also not be allowed, it said.
As a further safeguard, the panel also recommended a physical criteria for all bicycles and personal mobility devices.
They include a maximum unladen weight of 20 kg and a maximum width of 700 millimetres.
Co-founder of Love Cycling SG group and panel member Francis Chu said: "Currently, as cyclists, especially for those slower cyclists, they have to face two difficult choices. One is risk their life on the road because they are slower, they have higher chance of getting into an accident. Second, is to break the law and go on the pavement.
"With the new sets of rules and code of conduct, it become legal to use the footpath safely to get from A to B but at the same time they have to take responsibility of not endangering other slower users on the footpath."
Another member of the panel, Denis Koh, the chairman of Big Wheel Scooters Singapore said it is inevitable that there will be a lot of questions raised and "hurdles" with the introduction of new rules. "But we have actually come up with these rules for the long term car-lite nation," he said.
Cyclists and pedestrians Channel NewsAsia spoke with welcomed the recommendations. Said business development executive Ming Jing: "It could work if it's implemented properly. Just divide into two paths for the safety of the pedestrians and the cyclists."
IT executive Mohamed Riaz said: "Especially in housing estates, it's easier to move around with a bicycle or e-scooter. So, I guess this kind of new rules should more or less encourage people to cycle, be more active.
"It's very difficult to define where you walk or where you cycle unless it's clearly defined," said architect Jason Wang who owns an e-bike. "So, first rule if you actually cycle on the footpath where there are pedestrians is to do it very, very cautiously; do it very slowly."
Chairman of the Singapore Road Safety Council Bernard Tay also said the recommendations "signify an important step that we are taking to enhance safety for all users".
"Beyond a set of clear and consistent rules, public education and adoption of these rules is equally important," Mr Tay said in an email on Friday. "To this end, the Singapore Road Safety Council remains committed to continually improve safety on our roads and work with the various agencies to inculcate good safety practices amongst all road users."
The Transport Ministry said it will study the recommendations and issue its response in due course.