E-scooter user: I'll defy footpath ban so I can feed my kids, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

E-scooter user: I'll defy footpath ban so I can feed my kids

This article is more than 12 months old

Food deliveryman says he has no choice as he has to feed his three kids

After issuing thousands of warnings in two months, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will take a zero-tolerance approach against e-scooter riders caught on footpaths from Jan 1.

But one rider will continue to defy the ban despite being aware of the penalties if he gets caught.

Wanting to be known only as Mr Ariffin, the full-time food delivery rider of three years feels he has little choice because he has three young mouths to feed.

He said the ban, which kicked in on Nov 5, was too sudden and did not give users time to adapt.

With the ban, e-scooters can be used only on the 440km of cycling paths islandwide.

"Come Jan 1, I'll just have to take my chances on footpaths. I spent $1,500 on this device. I'm not going to waste more money to replace it," Mr Ariffin, 31, told The New Paper last week.

Nine other users told TNP said they will comply with the ban and are learning to adapt.

LTA has warned that offenders will face a fine of up to $2,000 and/or jail of up to three months from next year.

The Government and three major food delivery companies have put up a $7 million grant for users like Mr Ariffin to trade in e-scooters for other devices.

He said the scheme is of little help to him. "The grant works as a reimbursement. But I don't have another $2,000 to buy another device right now."

Changing jobs is also not an option, Mr Ariffin said.

"This job gives flexibility in case I need to go home to help with the kids," he added.

About 7,000 food delivery riders use personal mobility devices (PMDs) here, and as of Dec 16, LTA has received over 3,000 applications for the grant and approved over 2,800 of them.

The application deadline is on Dec 31, but Grab delivery riders have until March 31 to complete their trade-ins.

For riders who do not want to fork out cash, Grab has also partnered with sports goods retailer Decathlon to offer them new bicycles and accessories with no upfront payment.

Some delivery riders like Mr Patrick Soh, 48, say they will use their e-scooters until Dec 31 before switching, while others like Mr Khairul Mohamed, 28, plan to get out of the industry.

Those who use e-scooters to commute, like Mr Ilango Malai, 37, are also biting the bullet.

The safety coordinator, who has worked here since 2005, scoots from his Woodlands flat to his worksite. He plans to send his e-scooter home to India and get a bicycle instead.

He said: "Hopefully my family will get more use out of it."

Announcing the footpath ban on Nov 4, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min told Parliament that it was a necessary step to make pedestrians feel safe again.

Last Tuesday, he said there had been a palpable difference in terms of safety on footpaths since the ban kicked in.

The authorities are looking to speed up the conversions of footpaths into shared paths to give e-scooter riders more room, Dr Lam added.

Mr Ang Hin Kee, deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said that most e-scooter riders, to their credit, have taken the ban on the chin, even with their livelihoods affected and numerous inconveniences.

"Remember, they are not employees. So it was individuals who had to make their own call," he told TNP.

Mr Ang said the food delivery companies have done a fair bit as well in terms of training, assisting with the transition, providing funding for the trade-in grant and advising their riders.

He hopes reminders of LTA's zero-tolerance approach will be strengthened in the next week.

"I'm quite sure the enforcement action will kick in quite swiftly and the coverage will be quite wide," he added.

Mr Koh Juay Meng, president of senior citizen volunteer organisation RSVP Singapore, said the footpath ban has been a plus for seniors, who say it has been effective.

Mr Koh, who sits on the Active Mobility Advisory Panel, said that for riders, it is a matter of managing expectations.

"They have to look at a few factors and not just at their own convenience. They also have to think of others."