SINGAPORE: While rules banning the use of electric scooters on footpaths were put in place to safeguard pedestrians, food delivery riders who use personal mobility devices (PMDs) for work are also Singaporeans with “genuine concerns”, said Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee on Thursday (Nov 7).
Mr Lee, who is a Member of Parliament for the Jurong Spring ward of Jurong GRC, was speaking on the sidelines of his Meet-the-People session (MPS), where 50 delivery riders turned up hoping to voice their concerns over how the new regulations would affect their livelihood.
More than half were wearing green GrabFood T-shirts.
Grab had earlier said a third of its riders would be affected by the new rules.
Another food delivery firm, Deliveroo, said it has helped around 30 per cent of its riders that previously used PMDs or e-bikes, to switch to other modes of transport such as bicycles or motorcycles.
"We are in close touch with all our riders on PMDs, and will continue to speak with them and do more to support them and their needs moving forward," said a Deliveroo spokesperson.
“For instance, we are currently in conversations with bike-sharing companies around potential partnerships.”
“They have genuine concerns, (about their) livelihood and income, and of course all the other related issues,” said Mr Lee.
Mr Lee said the riders' concerns included not being able to pay off the instalments on their PMDs and being unable to obtain e-bikes or other vehicles that would allow them to continue working.
Also at the MPS were representatives from various e-scooter retailers, who presented a letter to Mr Lee on behalf of more than 30 businesses.
They called on the authorities to allow the use of PMDs on roads, with speeds capped at 25kmh, and to convert more footpaths to shared paths.
Mr Lee told those at the MPS that their concerns would be presented to the Ministry of Transport and the Land Transport Authority on Friday.
“These are Singaporeans with genuine concerns. The rules are intended to safeguard Singaporeans who as pedestrians use the walkways. So there are trade-offs, the rules have been put into place for a reason,” he said.
Meanwhile, volunteers would attend to riders who had concerns that needed to be addressed immediately.
“I’m from MSF (Ministry of Social and Family Development), so we want to make sure if they have urgent concerns regarding their livelihood, we will be in a position to help them,” he said.
Mr Jacki Ng from retailer Eko Life, said he was hopeful that regulations could be modified in such a way that would allow riders and pedestrians to share paths safely.
“Hopefully they (MOT) will address the issues,” said the 43-year-old.
Rider P K Satria said he hoped any changes to the regulations could be made soon, adding that pedestrians were giving him dirty looks even when he rode on cycling paths, where the use of e-scooters is allowed.
READ: E-scooter riders gather to voice frustration over ban at Meet-the-People session in Ang Mo Kio
The 21-year-old, who has worked with GrabFood for two years, said the public tends to view e-scooter riders as "bad people, who cause trouble, accidents and mishaps".
“They forget that as delivery riders, we go out to deliver their food and give the best service we can. Because at the end of the day, we just want to go home and put food on the table for our families," he said.
Mr Lee's MPS is the third in recent days to be attended by e-scooter riders concerned about the new law.
On Tuesday, about 30 delivery riders met with Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam at a session in his Chong Pang ward of Nee Soon GRC.
On Wednesday, around 50 riders showed up at the MPS for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s Teck Ghee ward, in Ang Mo Kio GRC.