Tighter rules for electric bicycles have been welcomed because the power at the fingers of users has, well, also gone to their heads. Some have been known to illegally modify their machines to attain speeds above 60kmh. Others zip down footpaths at excessive speeds on e-bikes that can weigh up to about 30kg. Now, weight and power output have been curbed by the Land Transport Authority, which cites "significant safety concerns". Safety is paramount, of course, but bicycle usage (including that of power-assisted ones) should generally be encouraged as it offers a viable means of steering Singapore towards a "car-lite" future. Elsewhere, city fathers are closer to realising that future as they make bicycles an attractive alternative for short trips by reducing overall speed limits, removing street kerbs for easier passage, and selectively allowing cyclists to run red lights when the way is clear and the route is safe. In some places, "cargo bicycles" have become popular to carry groceries or children.
The manoeuvrability of bicycles offers a distinct advantage that can be whittled down if a maze of rules has to be implemented because of the errant practices of a minority. Almost six in 10 pedestrians here are willing to share footpaths with bicycles, skateboards and kick-scooters but people are unmistakably wary about motorised devices, according to an LTA survey. Such uneasiness would not have arisen if Singaporeans had evolved an etiquette for the use of pathways that is more inclusive and safety-conscious. Instead of seeing paths as travelling spaces one should aggressively vie for, urban etiquette should be based on the mutual desire to make the commuting experience pleasant for one and all.