Ban on e-scooters from footpaths 'a necessary step': Lam Pin Min
Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min says errant behaviour, increasing number of accidents led to ban of e-scooters on footpaths
Just six months ago, Parliament was told that banning personal mobility devices (PMDs) from footpaths would not be a solution.
But errant behaviour and a spate of accidents have now forced the authorities to ban the use of electric scooters on all footpaths from today.
This follows an earlier ban in September on PMD use in void decks and common spaces at public housing estates.
Announcing the move in Parliament yesterday after a month-long PMD safety review, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said the current situation made it impossible for the Government not to act decisively.
"This ban of e-scooters from footpaths is a difficult decision. But it is a necessary step for pedestrians to feel safe again on public paths," he said.
An average of 370 errant riders are caught each month, and according to the Land Transport Authority (LTA), there were 184 off-road PMD accidents in the first nine months of this year.
This is a marked increase from the 228 reported PMD accidents on public paths in 2017 and last year combined.
Only 8 per cent of the 184 accidents reported so far this year were on cycling paths and park connectors.
About 64 per cent were on footpaths and 28 per cent were in other public places, such as void decks or bus stops.
Dr Lam said: "We expected the co-sharing of footpaths to be challenging but were hopeful that with public education, PMD users would be gracious and responsible. Unfortunately, this was not so."
With the ban, e-scooter use will now be restricted to the 440km of cycling paths and park connectors - which the Government has promised to extend to 750km by 2025 and triple by 2030. Riders must dismount and push their e-scooters while on the footpath.
Bicycles, kick scooters, and personal mobility aids like mobility scooters and motorised wheelchairs are not affected by the ban.
Other PMDs such as hoverboards and unicycles can still be used on footpaths for now.
All PMDs will continue to be banned from roads.
Dr Lam said the move is not a complete ban on e-scooters, and they will be allowed to grow in tandem with cycling path infrastructure.
Safety concerns over the use of motorised PMDs has also led the authorities to quash any hope for a public sharing service in the near future.
A safety directive prohibiting e-scooter sharing services has been issued and all applications submitted by operators earlier this year will be rejected.
To curb the risk of fires from PMDs without UL2272 fire safety certification, the early disposal incentive scheme will be extended by a month until the end of the year.
Owners of registered non-compliant e-scooters have until Dec 31 to hand over their devices to get the $100 early disposal incentive. At least 80,000 of the 100,000 registered e-scooters here are not UL2272 certified.
Since the roll-out in September, LTA has received more than 9,000 disposal applications and more than 4,800 e-scooters have been disposed of.
LTA is also studying upstream measures, including import controls, to stem the inflow of non-compliant PMDs into Singapore, Dr Lam added.
Mixed reactions from businesses to banning of e-scooters on footpaths
Business reaction to the ban of e-scooters on footpaths and the prohibition of sharing services were mixed.
Some warned of the possible effects the ban would have while others were already bracing themselves for the impact.
FOOD DELIVERY FIRMS
There are about 7,000 personal mobility device (PMD) riders engaged by the three major food delivery companies here - GrabFood, Deliveroo and Foodpanda.
Grab said more than a third of its delivery riders rely on e-scooters and warned customers of longer wait times and a possible increase in cancellations.
It plans to engage the Government on the possibility of allowing riders who have displayed responsible behaviour to continue using e-scooters for delivery under certain conditions.
Deliveroo said it will stop working with any riders found using an e-scooter on footpaths and expects a minimal impact to deliveries as PMD and e-bike riders make up only five per cent of its 6,000-strong fleet.
PMD riders make up about 12 per cent of Foodpanda's fleet. The company did not respond to queries by press time.
Grab will also start to progressively suspend its shared e-scooter service GrabWheels and all existing ride-plans will be refunded to users' credit cards in the next 30 days.
It said: "Grab remains committed to serving Singapore and will explore other ways to serve our users with alternative active mobility options."
Mr Jay Jin, general manager of Kernel Scooter, said the ban could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses for sellers here as they had poured money and effort into stocking up on UL2272-certified inventory.
Mr Chew Boon Hur, general manager of retailer Mobot, was more sanguine and said he is not sure yet how much sales will dip.
He told TNP: "We are trying to see how consumers are dealing with it... There will be customers who are going to hold back their decision, so there is bound to be a dip in business."