SINGAPORE: It is 8am and a bus stop at Woodlands Ave 7 is teeming with the usual crowds of people on their way to work, school or the market.
Among the throng, one person stands out: Land Transport Authority (LTA) Active Mobility Enforcement Officer Nursubhi Achis. Identified by his bright yellow shirt with the LTA enforcement crest, it is his job to patrol areas with high pedestrian and cyclist traffic like crowded bus stops, pedestrian crossings and schools.
Mr Nursubhi is part of the first team of Active Mobility Enforcement Officers deployed on Wednesday (May 11) by the LTA. The LTA said this is to encourage safe sharing of paths and deter reckless behaviour on bicycles and personal mobility devices (PMD) like electronic scooters.
The new enforcement team was announced during the Committee of Supply debate this year.
ON THE ROAD TOWARDS SAFER CYCLING
Channel NewsAsia spent an hour observing Mr Nursubhi at work. Standing near the bus stop, he kept an eye out for cyclists and PMD users on the pedestrian footpath, armed with a walkie-talkie to communicate with two other team members stationed across the road.
Mr Nursubhi on patrol at a pedestrian footpath along Woodlands Ave 7 (Photo: Lianne Chia)
Any cyclists Mr Nursubhi saw on the footpath were flagged down. With a cheerful smile, he advised them to use the adjacent cycling path, and gave them a blue flyer entitled “7 habits of safe riders”. He then sent them on their way with a pat on the back.
The exchanges were friendly, and those he stopped appeared happy to get off with nothing but an advisory.
That situation could change when new legislation takes effect later this year. Officers like Mr Nursubhi will then be able to take enforcement action.
Currently, cyclists and PMD users found riding rashly could be prosecuted in Court under the Penal Code if they cause hurt to another person. They could be liable on conviction to a fine of up to $5,000 or imprisonment for up to one year, or both. But as part of the enforcement efforts, the government will look into increasing penalties for stronger deterrence against reckless behaviour.
“Right now, our officers will be on the ground to give advisory notices and pamphlets to advise (the public) on the incoming laws,” said LTA’s Deputy Manager, Enforcement Division, Willy Soo. “This is so the public will not be unprepared when the rules and regulations kick in.”
Over the next few months, officers will also be equipped with foldable bicycles to help them while on patrol, and speed guns.
By 9am, Mr Nursubhi told Channel NewsAsia that he had stopped more than 20 cyclists since operations began at 7am.
Mr Nursubhi stopping a cyclist on a pedestrian footpath (Photo: Lianne Chia)
TARGETING THE HOTSPOTS
The area Mr Nursubhi was patrolling was flagged as a hotspot by the LTA. This refers to areas with high volumes of pedestrian traffic which sees a lot of interaction between pedestrians, cyclists and PMD users, said LTA’s Mr Soo.
He added that these hotspots have been identified using feedback received from members of the public over the past few years. “As we start our enforcement deployment, we will receive more feedback as well as some ground sensing (from our enforcement officers). From the information gathered, we will then develop new sets of hotspots.”