SINGAPORE: With e-scooter registration - along with size and speed limit restrictions – set to kick in later this year, some in the e-scooter community have voiced their disagreement on the effectiveness of the Government’s measures to curb the reckless behaviour of errant riders.
The measures were announced on Wednesday (Mar 7), as Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said in Parliament that the Government has decided to accept the recommendations made by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel.
The registration regime will be implemented by the end of the year, and the process will be kept as simple and low-cost as possible, Dr Lam added.
While most users Channel NewsAsia spoke to agreed that regulations are important to ensure that errant riding is kept in check, not many agreed that having all e-scooter owners register with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is the right move.
“The benefit is that it will enable users to exercise responsibility and take ownership of their actions,” said regular user Wilson Seng, who also runs an e-scooter safe riding movement #PLEDGETORIDESAFE.
“It will also enable identification of errant riders who breach regulations and also in the event of an accident."
He added, though, that the new rules could deter potential buyers: “They might have a misconception that the Government's efforts in tightening regulations could mean the first step towards banning e-scooters."
“Retailers are also concerned about the negative impact on business, given the hassle of registration that will turn away potential customers from purchasing,” he explained.
DEPOWERED DEVICES UNSUITABLE FOR BURLY RIDERS
E-scooter hobbyist Mr Zamri, who rides most weekends with hobby group Skuter Familia SG, said that lightweight scooters usually have smaller batteries – which are unable to power portly riders like him.
“For those of us who enjoy modifying our scooters – and I stress that it is never for racing – it is done to make our rides more comfortable and durable,” said the Yishun resident. “I’m a big-sized person and I will definitely need a larger battery and heavier electric motor than most that can handle my weight.”
Mr Zamri added that his device needs more power because he makes long-distance rides with his hobby group. His e-scooter currently exceeds LTA’s proposed weight limit of 20kg and maximum speed of 25km/h.
Mr Seng, too, disagreed with LTA’s 20kg weight limit in particular. “Weight limit restricts the battery capacity in a device,” he explained. “This is done at the expense of range.”
Added Mr Seng: “Also, a good number of food deliverymen rely on e-scooters for their livelihood. They require the range on their devices, which compliant devices may not offer.”
E-scooter dealer MOBOT mostly sells LTA-compliant devices, but its director Ifrey Lai recognises that the limits may put certain users at a disadvantage. “I think that the 25km/h speed limit is just right, but there may be big-sized customers who use more powerful scooters,” he said.
“Any proposed speed reduction by the authorities must not be too much,” added Mr Lai. “For scooters that we have now that’s too big under the new rules, we’d have to then export it to other countries.”
Mr Lai noted that sales of e-scooters have been falling in the last two months, following LTA’s rules for e-bikes last year. “Our January and February sales dropped by about 50 per cent compared to last year,” he said.
“One reason is the anticipation of the new e-scooter ruling and registration,” added Mr Lai. “You can compare this with the effects of the recent e-bike registration rule. Before, I could see many people riding e-bikes but after that, it became less common to see people using them.”
Another local dealer Falcon PEV thinks the falling sales trend will continue. “E-scooter sales for us have been falling steadily over the last two years organically mainly from market competition,” said its general manager Victor Lee.
“With this registration process, we are expecting e-scooter sales to be impacted the same way as it did with e-bike sales with its own registration implementation,” he observed. “New customers now will likely think twice if they should hold on to the purchase until the registration is in place, considering the process and overall cost.”
“We will definitely see an impact in overall sales over the course of this year,” added Mr Lee.
REGISTRATION UNLIKELY TO CHANGE PUBLIC PERCEPTION
As a daily user of an e-scooter for commutes to work, Mr Marc Wong is one of those who agreed that registration is a good first step to deter errant riding.
“I’m in favour of it because of the errant riders and it's making regular people at large become very unhappy with the community,” he said. “It’s a move I support and I will definitely register my scooters. It might even deter some errant behaviour in the long run.”
While there are benefits to using e-scooters, there will inevitably be “bad eggs” who spoil the experience for law-abiding riders. “Riding e-scooters is something positive because it is a green form of transportation,” said the 36-year-old.
“In addition, it brings enjoyment as you can now go to places that would be inaccessible via normal roads,” he added. “Not everyone can own a motorbike and so the extra mobility is definitely a plus point.”
However, Mr Wong agreed that it is not clear if registration will change mindsets about safety.
“You can only presume that registration would deter reckless behaviour for the future but we don’t know for sure to what extent errant riding would come to a stop.
“We can only hope it will, but we’d have to see the results in order to be sure.”