Friday, 13 May 2016

New LTA unit to ensure safe riding on footpaths: Active Mobility Enforcement Officers

Enforcement team armed with speed guns will be deployed daily at high-traffic hot spots
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 12 May 2016

If you are zipping down a footpath on a bicycle, do not be surprised if someone dressed in a yellow top and black bermudas stops you and asks you to pedal safely.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) launched a new unit yesterday to patrol pavements and cycling paths, and crack down on cyclists and personal mobility device (PMD) users who speed or ride recklessly on these.

Officers of the new Active Mobility Enforcement Team will be armed with foldable bicycles and speed guns and be deployed daily at high-traffic hot spots - such as areas outside schools, bus stops and pedestrian crossings - to ensure the safe sharing of these spaces.

It is currently illegal to ride a bicycle or use PMDs such as e-scooters on sidewalks, but the authorities announced last month that the law will be amended to allow bicycles and most PMDs on such paths.

The enforcement unit was also announced last month, as part of measures to ensure safety after the new rules take effect.

"Our officers will be on the ground... to advise (the public) on the incoming law, so they will not be unprepared when the rules and regulations kick in later this year," said Mr Willy Soo, a deputy manager in LTA's enforcement division.

For now, the enforcement team will focus on education and pass out brochures and advisories with safety tips, said LTA.

This is because the new team does not have powers to issue fines to reckless riders until the new rules take effect.

Currently, cyclists found riding rashly can be prosecuted by the Traffic Police and fined up to $5,000, jailed for up to a year, or both, if found guilty.

Yesterday, Mr Soo and three officers were deployed in Woodlands Avenue 7, an area where many residents commute by bicycle to work at the nearby industrial estate.

Residents, cyclists and PMD users welcomed the new enforcement team, saying that their visible presence will help ensure safety.

"Sometimes, cyclists here speed through the bus stops. If you have small children and they are walking around, it is not very safe," said Mr He Ya Peng, 36, a resident who works in customer service.

Engineer Andre Villegas, 33, cycles daily to his workplace in Gambas and said he sees cyclists speeding on the pavement even though there is a park connector.

"I think (the officers) will make the area safer. Sometimes in the morning, these people cycle quickly to rush to work," he said.

The new enforcement team will also join the Traffic Police in joint enforcement exercises at hot spots.

"The presence of our dedicated enforcement team will provide the reassurance that we will not tolerate any reckless behaviour by cyclists or personal mobility device users," said LTA chief executive Chew Men Leong in a media statement.

LTA team starts policing pavements, cycle paths
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 12 May 2016

Officers from the Land Transport Authority's (LTA) new Active Mobility Enforcement Team are well trained and experienced in stopping speeding cars and lorries on the roads.

But yesterday, they were hunting much smaller quarry.

Over two hours, at two bus stops in Woodlands Avenue 7, a team of three officers waved down cyclists and users of personal mobility devices, the first time that the LTA enforcement team was deployed.

Launched yesterday, the team will focus solely on policing pavements and cycling paths here.

The Government will likely pass laws later this year to give the team powers to hand out fines to speedsters and those who ride recklessly.

For now, the officers hand out brochures to cyclists with safety tips such as keeping to the left, and pushing their bikes in crowded areas.

During yesterday morning's operation, more than 180 of these brochures were handed out. Three advisory notices - given out to those who speed or ride recklessly - were also issued.

The Woodlands Avenue 7 stretch was chosen because it is used frequently by cyclists commuting to the nearby industrial estate.

The deputy manager of LTA's enforcement division, Mr Willy Soo, told The Straits Times: "Our targets are those who don't use the cycling path, or the (pavement) that bypasses the bus stop. We are targeting those who pose a higher threat to pedestrians."

Maintenance technician Shahreen Sace, 36, who rides his e-scooter from Admiralty to his workplace in Woodlands daily, was stopped by the officers for riding on the pavement. He was told to use the adjacent park connector instead.

Said Mr Shahreen: "This is a good move, it can help educate riders and increase awareness about safety."


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