SINGAPORE: Electric scooters will be banned from footpaths in Singapore from Tuesday (Nov 5), with offenders facing fines of up to S$2,000 and jail time of up to three months once the ban is strictly enforced from 2020.
The use of e-scooters remains banned on roads here, although the use of such devices will be allowed on cycling paths and park connector networks.
There will be an advisory period until Dec 31, during which errant users will be given warnings, to allow e-scooter riders time to adjust.
"From Jan 1, 2020, we will carry out strict enforcement, and those caught riding an e-scooter on footpaths will be liable for a fine up to S$2,000 and/or jail up to three months," Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said in Parliament on Monday.
READ: Panel recommends e-scooter users be at least 16 years old, pass theory test before riding on public path
The ban will not apply to bicycles or personal mobility aids such as motorised wheelchairs or mobility scooters, Dr Lam said.
By the first quarter of next year, other types of personal mobility devices (PMDs), such as hoverboards and electric unicycles, are also expected to be banned from footpaths.
In addition, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will reject existing licence applications for PMD-sharing services, and no new applications for such licences will be accepted because of safety concerns.
NOT A COMPLETE BAN
The authorities are aware that a ban on the use of e-scooters on footpaths could impact those such as food delivery riders who use them in their jobs, Dr Lam added.
However, he noted that less than 30 per cent of Deliveroo and Foodpanda’s riders use e-scooters, adding that LTA will work with such companies to help their riders switch to motorcycles or bicycles instead.
"This move is not a complete ban of e-scooters," Dr Lam stressed.
READ: PMDs to be banned in most void decks and common corridors, pedestrian-only zones to be trialled in some towns
The authorities are stepping up the construction of dedicated cycling paths - where e-scooters can be used - in areas such as Woodlands, Toa Payoh and Choa Chu Kang, with 750km expected to be built by 2025.
Such paths will provide “clear separation” between pedestrians and e-scooters, Dr Lam said.
Regarding fire safety, the authorities are extending the early disposal incentive scheme - where S$100 is given for the disposal of non-UL2272 compliant registered e-scooters - to the end of the year.
The UL2272 standard refers to a set of safety requirements which cover the electrical drive train system of PMDs, including the battery system.
Twelve retailers have been caught selling non-UL2272 certified PMDS since July, when the requirement came into place, Dr Lam said.
E-SCOOTER ACCIDENTS RISING DESPITE REGULATIONS
"Great efforts" have been put in place to promote the safe use of PMDs since the Active Mobility Bill was passed in February 2017, he said.
These include the introduction of compliance standards, the reduction of speeds on footpaths and increased enforcement.
Despite this, the authorities continue to encounter errant riders - with about 370 offenders caught each month - and the number of accidents also continues to rise, he noted.
“There have been more severe accidents, and even a fatal one involving a cyclist in September. Many riders have themselves suffered severe injuries, including a few who lost their lives.”
Dr Lam noted that other countries such as France - which banned the use of e-scooters on pavements last week - have also had to revisit rules governing the use of PMDs.
“Cities have allowed the use of such devices on footpaths as they are non-pollutive, inexpensive and, if properly used, convenient for short intra-town travels,” he said.
“We expected the co-sharing of footpaths to be challenging but were hopeful that with public education, PMD users would be gracious and responsible,” he added.
“Unfortunately, this was not so.”
It was a "difficult decision" to ban the use of e-scooters from footpaths, said Dr Lam.
"But it is a necessary step for pedestrians to feel safe again on public paths, while still allowing e-scooters to grow in tandem with cycling path infrastructure.”
LTA TO INCREASE NUMBER OF ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS
Suggestions made by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel in September - such as requiring that riders be at least 16 years old and pass a mandatory theory test - are being studied, and announcements on their implementation will be made at a later date, Dr Lam said.
To enforce the new regulations, LTA will increase the number of its active mobility enforcement officers to 200 by the end of this year, Dr Lam said in response to Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan.
On the issue of third-party liability insurance, raised by Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah, Dr Lam said the authorities are working with insurers to see if premiums for such policies can be lowered to encourage take-up.
The authorities are also studying the possibility of imposing upstream controls on the import of non-compliant PMDs, and are working with major online retailers to prevent such devices from being brought into Singapore, Dr Lam said in response to questions from Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan and Jurong GRC MP Ang Wei Neng.