Thursday, 4 January 2018

Personal Mobility Device users caught riding on roads will face tougher enforcement action from 15 Jan 2018; Mandatory registration of e-scooters from second half of 2018

Stiffer fines, possible jail time for offences involving Personal Mobility Devices (PMD) from Jan 15
Those riding on public roads to be dealt with more harshly, amid rise in number of cases
By Christopher Tan, Senior Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 3 Jan 2018

From Jan 15, personal mobility device (PMD) users caught riding on public roads will face fines of up to $2,000 and/or a jail term of three months, in addition to having their devices impounded.

In a toughened stance against an increasing number of offenders, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday that a composition fine of $300 will be imposed on first-time offenders who ride on local roads, and $500 on those caught on major roads.

First-timers nabbed on expressways will be charged in court. If convicted, they will face a maximum penalty of a $2,000 fine and jail term of three months.

Repeat court convictions will carry a maximum fine of $5,000 and/or a jail term of up to six months. This applies to those caught using PMDs on any public road.

The penalty now is a $100 composition fine for first-timers, regardless of the type of road they are on.

Second-timers are fined $200, and those caught for the third time onwards are fined $500.

Since the advent of PMDs such as electric scooters and hoverboards two years ago, more have been sighted on roads, even though they are strictly for use on footpaths and park connectors.

In the first 11 months of last year, an average of 40 users were caught monthly. This was 18 per cent more than the monthly average of 34 recorded in 2016.

The LTA said it is an offence under the Road Traffic Act to ride PMDs on roads. Electric bicycles, however, are allowed on roads, except expressways. But observers said the line separating e-bikes and other PMDs is fast blurring.

The new Active Mobility Act may address the situation. It will require users, among other things, to ensure their PMDs weigh no more than 20kg and measure no wider than 700mm. They also cannot exceed a speed limit of 15kmh on footpaths, and 25kmh on cycling and shared paths in park connectors.

Meanwhile, the LTA has increased the number of enforcement officers from 24 in June to more than 50. Officers are also being equipped with speed guns to check speed limits.

"With the increasing popularity of food delivery services, we have also been working with such companies to educate their PMD delivery crew on safe riding tips and rules, like not riding on the roads," it said.

The tougher laws follow several PMD-related incidents. Last November, a 52-year-old man using a PMD died in an accident with a bus in Kaki Bukit. In the same month, another man was arrested after a video showing an e-scooter zipping down the Pan-Island Expressway went viral on social media.

Last October, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan told Parliament there were about 90 accidents involving electric bicycles and PMDs in the first half of last year. These resulted in four deaths and about 90 injuries.

Motorist Mervyn Tan, 52, an insurance agent, is glad tougher laws are on hand, but wonders if enforcement would be adequate.

"There are too few officers and too many of these riders," he said. "Having them on the pavement is not ideal either. Pedestrians have the right of way, but do they feel that way?

"In my view, these devices should not have been approved in the first place."

Stiffer penalties for errant PMD users timely, say observers
By Adrian Lim, Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 3 Jan 2018

The stiffer penalties for personal mobility device (PMD) users caught riding on roads is a timely move, observers said yesterday, amid a rise in the number of such offences.

But at the same time, Singapore needs to step up public education and tighten regulations on the type of PMDs permitted for use, they added.

From Jan 15, the current $100 fine for using a PMD on roads will go up, with the addition of a tiered penalty system based on the type of roads that users are caught on, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced yesterday.

First-time offenders who ride them on a local road will be fined $300, and on major roads, $500. Those caught on expressways will be charged in court.

Nanyang Technological University senior transport research consultant Gopinath Menon believes the tougher penalties will be a deterrent and give enforcement efforts more teeth in taking users off the roads. But ultimately, "it is crucial to also educate PMD users that it is in their own interest not to go on the road".

Mr Bernard Tay, chairman of the Singapore Road Safety Council, said the impending penalties are timely as more PMD users are defying the rules on riding on the roads.

To educate users, he said PMD sellers could be asked to give brochures listing the dos and don'ts to buyers.

The LTA said last month that it has been promoting safe riding habits through walkway banners, table-top stickers at food centres, print advertisements, posters and brochures.

MP Ang Hin Kee, deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said that as PMDs become more popular with the elderly, they need to be educated via platforms that appeal to them, like getai shows.

Meanwhile, Mr Tay suggested additional regulations on the type of PMDs allowed in Singapore, in addition to what is set out in the Active Mobility Act, which will take effect soon. "The authorities can introduce a type approval, issuing a mark or seal to PMDs that can be sold here," he said.

Experts agree that getting PMD users off the road is an uphill task. "It is like pedestrians who jaywalk - they know it is wrong, but they still do it. For many PMD users, they want to be on the road because there is no obstruction," said Mr Menon, adding that pedestrians on pavements force them to slow down.






* Advisory panel recommends registration for electric scooters
It submits proposal to Transport Ministry amid rising number of reckless riders
By Adrian Lim, Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 23 Feb 2018

Electric scooter users may have to register their devices if an expert panel's recommendation is accepted.

The Active Mobility Advisory Panel said some action is needed given the increasing number of e-scooter riders who endanger themselves and others by riding recklessly.

Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, who chairs the body, said yesterday it has submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Transport (MOT) to regulate e-scooters.

"This will increase e-scooter user responsibility and facilitate enforcement against errant e-scooter users," he wrote in a Facebook post.

"This is something we are very concerned about. We cannot allow these errant riders to cause harm and compromise the safety of other path and road users," said Prof Faishal, who is Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education, and Social and Family Development.

The panel said registration of other personal mobility devices such as electric hoverboards and unicycles is not required because "their usage is less widespread and their speeds are lower when used".

But it also recommended in its letter to Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan that the situation be monitored, and to assess if further measures are needed.

The panel added that motorised wheelchairs and mobility scooters used by the elderly and disabled should be exempted from registering. The Land Transport Authority started registering electric, or power-assisted, bicycles last August.

An MOT spokesman said it is reviewing the panel's recommendations.

The panel was formed in 2015 to develop a set of rules governing the use of footpaths and cycling paths by cyclists and users of personal mobility devices.

The panel's initial set of guidelines - which included mandating that such devices adhere to weight, width and speed restrictions - was adopted into the Active Mobility Act, which takes effect this year.

Registration for e-scooters was not on the cards then. But the growing danger of e-scooters has prompted a rethink, with Mr Khaw asking the advisory panel to review the rules.

On average, there are about three accidents a week involving users of mobility devices like e-scooters.

There were 110 accidents between January and September last year, with about 30 of them occurring on public paths between pedestrians and a mobility device. The rest took place at road junctions and on roads when users were illegally riding parallel to vehicle traffic.

Toa Payoh resident William Liau, 60, wants e-scooters registered: "Some of the riders go very fast and close to pedestrians. I think riders should have a minimum age, perhaps of 18 years and above."

E-scooter rider Rukaini Danial, 16, felt it would be unfair if all e-scooters had to be registered just because of a few errant users. The Secondary 4 student said: "I ride safely and only on pavements. I hope the registration won't cost too much."

** Parliament: Mandatory registration of e-scooters from second half of 2018
Move to help deter reckless riding; process will be kept simple and low-cost: Lam Pin Min
By Zhaki Abdullah, The Straits Times, 8 Mar 2018

E-scooter users will have to register their devices from the second half of this year as the Government tries to rein in reckless riders.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said in Parliament yesterday that the Government had accepted the Active Mobility Advisory Panel's proposal last month to make such registration mandatory. The panel was formed in 2015 to develop a set of rules governing the use of footpaths and cycling paths by cyclists and users of personal mobility devices (PMDs).

"Registering e-scooters will help deter reckless behaviour, accord more responsibility to the users and facilitate enforcement officers in tracking down errant users," Dr Lam said during the debate on his ministry's budget.

He added that the process of registration will be kept "as simple and low-cost as possible".

As part of the registration process, users will have to provide their personal particulars as well as paste identification stickers prominently on their devices, and ensure that these meet requirements such as a maximum weight of 20kg and a top speed of no more than 25kmh.

But other PMDs such as hoverboards will not require registration as they have lower speeds and their usage is less widespread, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

Several MPs had raised the issue of reckless riding of PMDs, with Mr Ang Wei Neng (Jurong GRC) saying the toes of one of his residents had been fractured by an e-scooter food delivery rider at the Chinese Garden.

There were 110 accidents involving e-scooters in the first nine months of last year. Of these, about 30 took place on public paths and involved collisions between pedestrians and PMD users, while the rest took place at road junctions and on roads when users were riding illegally alongside vehicular traffic.

Responding to Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC), who raised the issue of whether the speed limit for PMDs needs to be revised, Dr Lam said the panel will look into the issue as well as matters such as the need for an insurance and compensation framework.

"The panel will look into these issues, weighing the need for these initiatives against the impact on the large majority of responsible users, and taking into account the practices of other jurisdictions," he said, adding that its recommendations will be published at year end.

The LTA said more details regarding the registration will be provided at a later date.

The move to register e-scooters comes after a similar initiative was introduced for e-bikes last August, aimed at enhancing enforcement against reckless riding and the use of non-compliant devices. As of January, more than 13,000 e-bikes have been registered with the LTA.

Mr Arif Abdul Hamid, 45, who heads e-scooter enthusiast group Singapore Inokim Riders, said mandatory registration could help ease concerns about errant riders, but was uncertain if it will stamp out reckless riding. "There are too many e-scooters and not enough enforcement officers," he said.

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