E-scooters look set to be next big problem

The new legislation to mandate the registration of e-bikes is good news ("Stepping up safety of e-bike users, others"; Jan 12).

However, market trends have moved faster than legislation and the authorities need to promptly deliberate on extending these laws to cover e-scooters as well.

E-scooters are noticeably more popular now. I live in the north, and this does seem to be the case in the HDB estate I live in.

In my neighbourhood, I have seen e-scooters travel as fast - if not faster than - e-bikes, which puts e-scooters in the same category as e-bikes in terms of the danger they pose to pedestrians.

In my view, e-scooters could be even more dangerous for pedestrians sharing the lane with them, because these battery-operated devices are rather silent.

I have been startled on a few occasions by e-scooters that seemed to pop up from nowhere.

There are also e-scooters affixed with seats, making them little different from e-bikes.

I suppose that when the legislation concerning e-bikes kicks in, consumers in the market for a personal mobility device are more likely to favour e-scooters over e-bikes for a number of reasons, including a perception that since e-scooters do not require a licence, the riders are not bound to the code of conduct concerning sharing lanes with pedestrians, and can, therefore, ride as they please without being penalised.

Such a mentality might increase risky and inconsiderate behaviour among e-scooter riders.

I also hope that the authorities would consider new legislation to regulate retailers of e-bikes and e-scooters.

A related problem which needs attention is that of errant retailers who illegally modify these devices.

It would be good if retailers that persistently flout the law have their retail licences revoked, and be forced out of business.

Chan Yeow Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2017, with the headline 'E-scooters look set to be next big problem'. Print Edition | Subscribe