JAKARTA: The Jakarta government is planning to ban the use of electric scooters on sidewalks, following the deaths of two riders who were hit by a car in the early hours of Monday (Nov 11).
Officials are currently drafting new regulations which will force riders of e-scooters to wear helmets and to ride only on bike lanes.
The rental hours of the e-scooters might also be restricted to between 5am and 11pm, and only those who have reached 18 years old can use the service.
Jakarta Transportation Agency head Mr Syafrin Liputo told CNA on Friday that the e-scooters will not be allowed during Jakarta's Car Free Day events.
"We're still drafting the regulations, which are needed to ensure people's safety,” he said.
Any violations of the regulations, planned to be implemented in December, could result in a fine of 500,000 rupiah (US$35.50) or two-month jail, he added.
Known as GrabWheels, e-scooters roaming the streets of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta are rented out by ride-hailing company Grab Indonesia.
The company said in a meeting with the Transport Ministry on Thursday that it supported the government’s plan to introduce the new regulations.
Grab Indonesia President Mr Ridzki Kramadibrata said safety features would be put in place in view of the incident.
“No more than one person can use one scooter, parents cannot allow their children to use a scooter … and we want to create a monitoring programme whether through technology or social media,” he said, according to a press release issued by the ministry.
Mr Kramadibrata said Grab would not discontinue the rental service, adding that the company would explore the possibility of providing helmets to users.
In the Monday accident, the victims, 18-year-olds Wisnu and Ammar, were riding on one scooter when a car hit them from behind at around 3.45am in Senayan.
Their four other friends, who were also riding scooters, were injured in the accident, Jakarta Traffic Police subdivision head Commissioner Fahri Siregar said.
“The car driver wanted to overtake a minibus in front of him. When he went into the left lane, he hit three scooters.
"The two riders passed away,” Mr Siregar told reporters.
The car driver has been named as a suspect for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol, Mr Siregar added.
If convicted of drunk driving, the suspect could be sentenced to six years of imprisonment.
DAMAGE TO PUBLIC FACILITIES
Following its launch in May 2019, GrabWheels is available in designated areas such as Jakarta’s international sporting venue Gelora Bung Karno in Senayan.
The government noted that the e-scooters have caused damage to the wooden boards when users ride on pedestrian bridges.
In the Thursday meeting with Grab, the Transport Ministry said it would restrict the operating area of e-scooters.
"For the time-being, e-scooters are only allowed to operate on bicycle lanes. Not on sidewalks and not on pedestrian bridges, because it is dangerous if they are sharing one lane with motorbikes and cars,” said Mr Budi Setiyadi, the ministry's director-general for land transportation.
Jakarta resident Ms Atid Juni is in favour of the proposed regulations.
The 36-year-old has used the e-scooter once and felt it is dangerous, even if one wears a helmet.
"There should be a dedicated lane for e-scooters because the riders can hit someone else (on bicycle lanes)," Ms Juni told CNA.
Meanwhile, e-scooters are also banned on sidewalks in other countries.
Neighbouring Singapore has just banned electric scooters on the city-state’s sidewalks and offenders will be fined S$2,000 beginning 2020.
In some cities in Europe and the United States, e-scooters are also banned from pavements with offenders facing a range of penalties.