Singapore Bans E-scooters On Footpaths, Change Yields Positive Results
Singapore’s government announced towards the end of 2019, a policy that would ban the use of electric scooters otherwise known as e-scooters from public footpaths. The policy was announced by Lam Pin Min, the Senior Minister of State for Transport, and it came into effect on November 5.
The Senior Minister revealed that the move was a necessary change through which it aimed to protect pedestrians as they use public footpaths. He also made it clear that the new policy does not mean e-scooters have been banned completely. The e-scooter ban on public walkways means that those found in violation of the ban will be prosecuted.
E-scooter riders caught breaking the law to be punished
The government made it clear that those caught in violation of the new ban would face the full wrath of the law. The Transport Ministry, however, gave a grace period from November 5 to the end of 2019 so that anyone caught riding an e-scooter on public footpaths would be let off with a warning. However, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) vowed to take strict action against those found culpable from January 2020.
According to a statement made by the LTA, anyone found riding an e-scooter on a public footpath will face a hefty fine of up to S$2,000 or three months of jail time. This harsh punishment is meant to help enforce the e-scooter ban. So far, 27 e-scooter riders have been caught since the start of 2020.
There have been fewer e-scooter accidents since the ban was implemented
Dr. Lam revealed on January 6 that the e-scooter accidents have declined by about 30 percent since the ban was implemented. This is impressive, considering that it is roughly two months after e-scooters were banned from public walkways. It is great news, especially for the LTA, because it means they made the right call.
The ban was put in place after a 65-year-old woman died in September 2019 from an accident involving a PMD rider. The woman was riding her bicycle when the PMD hit her. The e-scooter ban on public footpaths was, therefore, aimed at making sure that pedestrians are safer and eliminating the possibility of such accidents in the future.
The LTA is allocating significant resources towards enforcing the ban
Dr. Lam revealed that the LTA diverted resources towards making sure that e-scooters are completely removed from footpaths. The resources include adding more officers to the enforcement team, which previously had 100 officers, but that number has now grown to 182 officers. The minister also revealed in a statement that the LTA plans to further expand the number of officers to 200 for more efficient enforcement of the law. He also added that they will also use closed-circuit TV cameras to monitor public walkways.
Where are e-scooter riders allowed to ride?
E-scooters are also banned on public roads, which means that there are limited places where owners can ride them. The law currently allows e-scooters to be ridden on park connector networks and cycling paths. The city-state currently plans to construct more dedicated cycling paths, which will provide e-scooter users with more flexibility.
The authorities also plan to update the regulations so that the ban will also include other PMD types. This might include electric unicycles and hoverboards. However, the ban does not include bicycles. A few other personal mobility aids are also exempted from the ban. They include mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs.
Meanwhile, e-scooter riders had until December 31 to consider the e-scooter trade-in grant. The latter was meant to provide an alternative for delivery riders, thus encouraging them to trade in their e-scooters in exchange for bicycles and e-bikes. Roughly 6,120 riders were eligible to receive the grant by the time the grant ended on December 31, but the LTA revealed that only 3,550 applications were submitted and approved.
The trade-in grant was an initiative that aimed to facilitate the shift from non-compliant scooters. The grant provided qualifying applicants with S$100 as an incentive for them to get rid of registered non-UL2272 compliant e-scooters. UL2272 is a standard of safety requirements for PMDs with electric drive trains, or in other words, battery-powered PMDs.
There were 100,000 registered e-scooters according to the statistics provided by the government, but only 20,000 of them are UL2272-certified, which means they can be used on public paths. The LTA expected the remaining 80,000 PMDs to be submitted for disposal.
Dr. Lam revealed that 74 percent of the approved applications chose e-bikes while 25 percent were happy with just regular bikes. The remaining 1 percent represents the number of individuals that opted for mobility aid like powered wheelchairs.
Singapore will invest over S$1 billion to expand the cycling paths
Dr. Lam revealed that the expansion of the cycling paths will cost roughly S$1 billion. He also revealed that the Ministry of Transport is holding talks with town councils, NParks and the Housing Board to talk about an accelerated but practical timeline for the construction of the cycling paths. They plan to release more details about the talks in the future.
The authority revealed that the new network of cycling paths will be added in Tampines, Taman Jurong, Bukit Panjang, Bishan, and Ang Mo Kio. They will provide more mobility to cyclists and e-scooter owners. So far, the cycling paths in Singapore cover roughly 440 KM, and there are plans to expand the network to around 750 km by 2030. LTA plans to have a network of cycling paths in all HDB towns.
Will the delivery sector be affected by the e-scooter ban?
The LTA does not expect the ban of e-scooters from public walkways to affect delivery businesses that use e-scooters. Dr. Lam pointed out that only 30 percent of riders in the food delivery sector use e-scooters. The LTA has also considered them, and that is why it has been working closely with delivery companies to provide riders with bicycles and motorcycles. These measures will help facilitate a smooth transition for those that are affected by the e-scooter ban.