SINGAPORE: Grab announced on Wednesday (Dec 11) new safety training for delivery riders switching to bicycles, promising free smart helmets to those who complete the course.
This follows the recent ban of personal mobility devices (PMDs) on footpaths from Nov 5.
Together with Asian Detours, a facilitator of the Safe Riding Programme appointed by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), GrabFood has designed a new training course to educate riders on traffic rules, safety checks, vehicle maintenance and navigating traffic scenarios.
Upon completing the training course, Grab riders will receive a smart helmet produced by Singapore startup Lumos.
The helmet, which retails for US$180 (S$245), features lights that make riders more visible and serve as turn signals, controlled by a mobile app.
Grab delivery rider Mr Dzulfiqar Ismail said he has had near misses with cars several times since switching from an electric scooter to a bicycle.
"(The helmet is) a very good innovation for us because of the placement of the lights," said the 29-year-old.
Grab’s head of transport Andrew Chan said the firm will help riders who are concerned about switching from PMDs to bicycles or power-assisted bicycles (PAB).
“The main concern that our rider partners have shared with us is really, how do I ride safely? How can I maintain my new vehicle? What are the new conditions that I need to be aware of on the road as opposed to on the footpath?" he said.
GRANTS FOR DELIVERY RIDERS
Riders had earlier been offered help in the form of grants of up to S$1,000 if they trade their e-scooter in for an e-bike or up to S$600 for a bicycle.
More than 45 per cent of Grab delivery riders affected by the PMD ban have applied for the e-scooter Trade-in Grant (eTG) since it was announced in mid-November, and 90 per cent of those applications have been approved, said Mr Chan.
Responding to questions about the remaining riders who have not applied for the grant, Mr Chan said: "There are partners who have decided that this may not be the right vocation for them anymore and have chosen to move on."
According to a November report from Today, more than one in three GrabFood delivery riders relied on e-scooters to fulfill orders. Just 5 per cent of Deliveroo riders and 12 per cent of Foodpanda riders used PMDs, including e-scooters.
In response to CNA queries, a Foodpanda spokesperson said the platform will stop PMD deliveries before LTA penalties officially kick in on Dec 31, to ensure riders have “sufficient time” to make the switch.
According to Foodpanda, 75 per cent of its eligible riders have signed up for the eTG scheme, and LTA has granted approval to more than 70 per cent of these riders.
Deliveroo said that all delivery riders have access to a safety kit, which includes a waterproof jacket, long-sleeved base layer and delivery bags which are reflective to increase visibility.
DELIVERY RIDER KIT
The GrabFood training course is one of five modules in the Delivery Rider Kit training programme created by NTUC’s e2i, Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit and LearningHub.
The training programme, which is voluntary, will be available to all delivery riders across platforms. Courses have been running since Dec 9, and according to NTUC, it is expected to benefit more than 2,000 riders making the switch from PMDs to bicycles or PABs.
PMD riders who are registered with GrabFood and have completed at least one GrabFood trip between Oct 9 and Nov 7 can go for the training programme at no cost.
READ: E-scooter riders gather to voice frustration over ban at Meet-the-People session in Ang Mo Kio
For Singaporeans and Singapore permanent residents, up to 90 per cent of the fees and training allowances will be supported by NTUC, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and Workforce Singapore (WSG).
Responding to questions about why Grab has not made the training course compulsory despite calls for more enforcement by the platforms, Mr Chan said: “We also respect the fact that there are a lot of bicycle and e-bike riders who are already very proficient in their vehicles.”
Grab will not be making the programme mandatory for now, but will continue to monitor the situation moving forward, he added.
These initiatives have come after the Government banned the use of e-scooters on footpaths, sparking those who rely on such devices to make a living to gather at Meet-the-People sessions across Singapore to speak to Members of Parliament last month.
Additional reporting by Zhaki Abdullah.