Parliament: Cycling and personal mobility devices essential to country's car-lite drive, says Josephine Teo

A pedestrian walking past a man travelling on e-scooter on the pavement on Sept 21, 2016.
A pedestrian walking past a man travelling on e-scooter on the pavement on Sept 21, 2016.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Cycling and the use of personal mobility devices (PMDs) are an "essential part" of Singapore's quest to go car-lite, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo in Parliament on Tuesday (Jan 10).

During the second reading of the Active Mobility Bill, Mrs Teo said cycling and the use of PMDs were gaining popularity with Singaporeans young and old.

"This is a positive development, as active mobility is a key pillar of our vision for transport in Singapore," she said, adding that these modes of transport were green, convenient and efficient for short distances, such as the first and last mile of journeys.

"They are essential to Singapore's transition to car-lite mobility, centred on public transport," she added.

Mrs Teo also provided further details on the registration regime for electric bicycles or power-assisted bicycles. The Government will be amending subsidiary legislation under the Road Traffic Act to require these devices to carry a registration plate and be registered to an owner, she said.


PHOTO: LTA


PHOTO: LTA

 

The Active Mobility Bill was first tabled in Parliament last year, it governs how and where bicycles and PMDs such as e-scooters can be used, as well as what criteria they must meet, such as weight.

The Bill was drafted based on guidelines put forward by an Active Mobility Advisory Panel - set up after a nationwide public consultation - that were fully accepted by the Government last April.

The proposed law legalises the use of bicycles and PMDs on public paths, where users can travel without grappling with traffic.

Motorised bicycles, or e-bikes, will only be allowed on the roads, cycling paths and shared paths.

The law also spells out harsh penalties for those who flout the rules, such as people who ride recklessly, and retailers who sell non-compliant devices.

Those who do not stop to render assistance to victims in an accident could face fines of up to $3,000, or a jail term of up to a year, or both. Reckless users can be handed fines of up to $5,000, jailed up to six months, or both.

Sellers of non-compliant PMDs could be fined up to $5,000, jailed up to three months or both.


PHOTO: LTA


PHOTO: LTA

The Land Transport Authority and partner agencies such as the National Parks Board, will be given powers to enforce these rules.

In Parliament on Tuesday, Mrs Teo addressed concerns by MPs over the safety of pedestrians, as bicycles and PMDs gain popularity.

"There is not a shadow of doubt that pedestrian safety is paramount," she said, adding that Singapore needed to develop a culture of "graciousness and consideration" similar to cycling cities such as Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Tokyo.

The burden lies more with cyclists and PMD users to demonstrate that they can be relied upon to be "safety-conscious and responsible users of public paths", she said, adding that such a culture may take several years to develop.

In the meantime, the Government would act to "reduce friction between different users".

It will do so by building more dedicated cycling paths where possible, establish a set of rules and norms for all users, and educate and enforce actively, she said.