SINGAPORE: The number of accidents involving e-scooters has dropped by 30 per cent since a ban on using the devices on footpaths came into effect on Nov 5 last year, Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Lam Pin Min told Parliament on Monday (Jan 6).
"As we step up enforcement, we can expect further reduction in such accidents," Dr Lam said.
A recent telephone poll commissioned by the Government feedback agency found that two out of three respondents agreed that footpath safety had improved since the ban was introduced, he noted.
Responding to questions from Jurong GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Ang Wei Neng, Dr Lam said that between Nov 5 and Dec 31, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) had issued about 6,000 advisories to remind riders of the new regulations, and more than 300 summons against "reckless riders".
LTA began strict enforcement from Jan 1. Those caught riding e-scooters on footpaths face fines of up to S$2,000 or up to three months in prison, or both.
The ban came into place following the death of 65-year-old Madam Ong Bee Eng, who died in September last year after getting hit by a PMD rider while on her bicycle.
Responding to Workers' Party Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan, who had asked whether additional resources were being allocated to enforce the footpath ban, Dr Lam said the LTA had expanded its team of enforcement officers, which includes auxiliary police officers, from 100 to 182 officers.
"Recruitment efforts are underway and LTA targets to enlarge the team to 200 soon," said Dr Lam, adding that technology such as roving closed-circuit TV cameras were being used to complement enforcement efforts.
The minister said 27 errant e-scooter riders have been nabbed since the start of this year.
MORE THAN S$1 BILLION NEEDED TO EXPAND CYCLING PATHS
Dr Lam noted that it had previously been announced that the network of cycling paths - where e-scooters can be used - will be expanded from 440km to 750km by 2025 and 1,300km by 2030.
"We are also discussing with MOF (Ministry of Finance) to secure additional funding for this purpose," he added.
"Our preliminary estimate is that we may have to spend more than S$1 billion to complete the island-wide cycling path network."
The Ministry of Transport will "accelerate the pace of implementation" by a few years and is in discussion with the Housing Board, NParks and town councils on a "practical timeline", the minister said, adding that more details will be provided at the Committee of Supply debates.
E-BIKE REGULATIONS TO BE UPDATED
The e-scooter trade-in grant, which allowed delivery riders to trade-in their e-scooters for e-bikes or bicycles following the footpath ban, has been taken up by thousands of riders.
About 6,120 riders were eligible for the grant. As of Dec 31, when the grant ended, LTA had received and approved 3,550 applications, Dr Lam told MPs.
In response to a supplementary question from Mr Ang about the breakdown of the applications, Dr Lam replied that 74 per cent of those approved had opted to switch to e-bikes.
Only 25 per cent chose bicycles, while less than 1 per cent chose a personal mobility aid such as an electric wheelchair. He added that 20 per cent of applicants have already changed to riding alternative devices.
Dr Lam noted that as of Dec 30, 130 delivery riders had completed a programme introduced by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) aimed at helping them switch to using power-assisted bicycles (PABs), otherwise known as e-bikes.
"This is useful as on-road accidents involving PABs are not uncommon. From January to November last year last year, there were 21 such accidents," he said, adding the LTA is working with the Traffic Police on greater public education and awareness efforts.
Separately, the regulatory regime for e-bikes is being updated, he noted.
E-bikes have to meet a number of requirements, such as being registered with the LTA, meeting the EN15194 electrical and fire safety standard, and having the motor cut off when it hits a top speed of 25kmh.
"Since November 2019, we have caught 70 non-compliant PABs. Non-compliant PABs caught will be seized and forfeited," said Dr Lam, adding that offenders face a maximum fine of S$5,000, or imprisonment of three months, or both.