SINGAPORE: All motorised personal mobility devices (PMDs) will not be allowed on footpaths from Apr 1.
Electric scooters have been barred from footpaths since last November. This ban will now be extended to include other motorised PMDs, such as hoverboards and electric skateboards, after the Active Mobility (Amendment) Bill and Shared Mobility Enterprises (Control and Licensing) Bill were passed in Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 4).
Personal mobility aids used by people with walking difficulties, such as motorised wheelchairs, are exempted from this wider restriction.
Those caught flouting the rules can be fined up to S$2,000 or jailed for up to three months, or both, for a first offence. Repeat offenders face fines of up to S$5,000 or imprisonment of up to six months, or both.
Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary acknowledged that the expanded ban will be a “connectivity loss” for motorised PMD users.
But since barring e-scooters from footpaths last November, accidents on footpaths involving PMDs have fallen by 52 per cent, he said.
Sentiments towards public path safety have also improved, he added during the second reading of the Bills.
MINIMUM AGE REQUIREMENT, ONLINE THEORY TESTS FOR INDIVIDUALS
Other regulatory measures targeted at individual users are also set to kick in progressively from April until the first half of next year.
A number of them were recommendations made by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP) last September, following a fatal collision involving an e-scooter rider and an elderly cyclist. The recommendations were then accepted by the Government in December.
One of which is the introduction of a minimum age for e-scooter riders from the second half of this year. Unless supervised by an adult who is at least 21 years old, those below the age of 16 will not be allowed to ride an e-scooter on public paths.
From the second half of 2020, underage e-scooter riders who use their devices on public paths face a S$1,000 fine or three months’ jail, or both, for a first offence.
Subsequent offenders will face a S$2,000 fine or six months’ jail, or both.
Supervisors will need “to take reasonable and practicable measures to ensure that the underage rider does not ride in a way dangerous to people or property”, said Dr Puthucheary, adding that authorities will release guidelines in this area.
Separately from the first half of next year, users of e-scooters and power-assisted bicycles will need to pass an online theory test before being allowed to ride their devices on public paths.
As power-assisted bicycles are also allowed on roads, riders will similarly be required by the Traffic Police to pass a theory test. Those who successfully complete the required tests will be issued a competency test certificate.
Dr Puthucheary said this is “a calibrated approach to improve awareness of rules and regulations, while managing the regulatory burden on device users”.
If necessary, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will have the flexibility to introduce other tests, such as practical riding tests, in future, he added.
READ: E-scooter ban on footpaths to extend to all motorised PMDs under amendments to Active Mobility Act
To ensure only compliant mobility devices are in use here, there will also be a mandatory inspection regime that will require all e-scooters here to go for inspections every two years, starting from April.
“LTA will be rostering e-scooters that are already registered and declared as UL2272-certified for inspections,” Dr Puthucheary told Parliament.
“LTA will also periodically call up certified and registered e-scooters for re-inspections every two years to ensure that they remain compliant and are not illegally modified.”
In addition, it will soon be an offence to hold and use a mobile communication device while riding mobility vehicles on public paths.
This measure, aimed at tackling “distracted riding”, takes effect from the second half of this year.
MEASURES FOR RETAILERS AND OTHER BUSINESSES
Retailers of active mobility devices and businesses using these devices will also be subject to new measures under the Bills passed in Parliament.
Last year, there were 28 instances where retailers were caught for various offences, including displaying and advertising non-compliant active mobility devices, said Dr Puthucheary, who stressed that retailers “must also behave responsibly”.
From April, retailers will be required to send their e-scooters for inspection before putting them up for sale. Selling an uncertified vehicle could carry a S$20,000 fine, a 24-month imprisonment, or both, for first offenders.
Noting that this will give consumers assurance, Dr Puthucheary said: “We will retain the flexibility to extend this to other active mobility devices in future if necessary.”
As illegally modified devices can pose public path safety and fire safety risks, the LTA’s ability to enforce against such illegal modifications will also be strengthened.
Rules will be broadened from April to cover users who modify their own devices and those who do so for others for free.
From the second half of this year, businesses will also have to ensure that their riders who use active mobility devices on public paths are covered by third-party liability insurance. This is to provide victims greater recourse to compensation.
The new rule will be imposed on businesses, such as food delivery firms.
Describing this as a “staged approach” to first impose insurance requirements on certain businesses, Dr Puthucheary said authorities are still working with the panel and the insurance industry to study how best to extend such insurance requirements to individual riders.
Overall to deter “errant and irresponsible behaviour, both users and retailers will face harsher maximum penalties for key offences.
While most individual riders are law-abiding, Dr Puthucheary said LTA’s enforcement officers detected about 4,900 offences in 2019.
“This is not acceptable,” he said. “To send a stronger deterrent message to this group, we will increase the maximum penalties for certain offences.”
For example, the penalty for a first-time offender caught speeding on public paths will be doubled to S$2,000 or 6 months’ imprisonment, or both.
Similarly for retailers, the penalty for selling a non-compliant device for use on public paths will be increased by more than four times, said Dr Puthucheary.
REGULATIONS FOR OPERATORS OF SHARED VEHICLES
Also passed in Parliament on Tuesday, the Shared Mobility Enterprises (Control and Licensing) Bill expands the current licensing regime for operators of shared bicycles and mobility devices.
This will replace the device-sharing licensing regime, which currently falls under the Parking Places Act and focuses on tackling indiscriminate device parking, particularly by shared bicycles.
Dr Puthucheary said there are a variety of operators using different devices, including motorised ones, causing problems with parking and safety today.
“For example, there have been operators who provide e-scooters for hire on private land, and these devices were subsequently observed on public paths. Different business models are likely to be developed in the future.
“Thus, it is necessary to update our regulatory regime,” he said.
Under the expanded regulatory regime, there will be two types of licences – regular and class licences.
The regular licence applies to all operators who offer dockless devices for hire, which will be subject to various requirements such as banning users who have committed serious offences on shared devices and ensuring users are covered by third-party liability insurance.
As bicycles are non-motorised and pose a smaller safety concern, dockless bicycle-sharing operators will be subject to requirements that deal with parking matters only for a start, Dr Puthucheary said.
Authorities will also take a “calibrated approach” in applying the safety requirements, depending on whether the operators are offering for hire motorised or non-motorised devices, he added.
Meanwhile, the class licence will apply to docked motorised device-sharing operators for a start.
Those operating non-motorised devices, such as docked bicycle-sharing operators, have “fewer safety concerns” and will be excluded from this regime.
According to Dr Puthucheary, class licencees do not need LTA’s explicit periodic approval to operate and only need to register with LTA soon after commencing operations.
Class licencees will also be subject to a smaller set of regulatory requirements, such as installing speedometers on their active mobility devices.
This “lighter-touch approach” boils down to how docked operators, such as those who operate from a physical shopfront or who have built racks where their devices are affixed to, cause less parking disamenities due to their use of docking infrastructure, said Dr Puthucheary
“They generally have to incur higher initial infrastructure costs, which naturally restricts the scale of their operations, and correspondingly their safety impact,” he added.
“Notwithstanding this, LTA will have the flexibility to shift such operators into the regular licensing regime subsequently, if there is a need to do so.”