Penalties for errant PMD users and sellers in proposed law

Active Mobility Enforcement Officers from the Land Transport Authority inspecting motorised bicycles. The Bill seeks to provide the Land Transport Authority with powers to enforce the new rules, such as examining whether the personal mobility devices
Active Mobility Enforcement Officers from the Land Transport Authority inspecting motorised bicycles. The Bill seeks to provide the Land Transport Authority with powers to enforce the new rules, such as examining whether the personal mobility devices are non-compliant and seizing them if so.ST FILE PHOTO

It sets out criteria devices must meet, where they can be used

Users of electric scooters, hoverboards and other personal mobility devices (PMDs) who are caught riding recklessly could face stiff penalties of a fine, or a jail sentence, in the future.

A new law is being proposed to govern where and how these devices should be used, and what criteria they must meet, such as weight.

The Active Mobility Bill will cover cyclists and riders of electric-powered bicycles (e-bikes), which are mainly regulated under the Road Traffic Act currently.

The Bill was introduced in Parliament by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday. If passed into law, it will bring about harsher penalties for sellers of non-compliant e-bikes, such as those which can go faster than 25kmh, for example.

First-time offenders who sell such e-bikes or illegally modify them currently face a fine of up to $2,000 or jail of up to three months, under the Road Traffic Act.

Under the proposed law, which will also apply to sellers of PMDs, the fine will be raised to $5,000.

The Bill's rules and code of conduct for cyclists and PMD users is based on the recommendations from an expert panel formed to boost the use of bicycles and PMDs.

The guidelines put forward by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel - formulated after a nationwide public consultation - were fully accepted by the Government in April, but have yet to be passed into law.

The guidelines include the different types of devices that are allowed on footpaths, shared paths and cycling paths. The maximum speeds and criteria for the devices are also laid out. For example, PMDs like electric scooters should not weigh more than 20kg and have a maximum speed of 25kmh.

The recommendations, however, did not spell out any proposed penalties for errant PMD users. These were revealed for the first time yesterday with the Bill's introduction.

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.

The Bill also seeks to provide the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and other agencies, such as the National Parks Board, with powers to enforce the new set of rules, such as examining whether PMDs are non- compliant and seizing them if so.

Community volunteers under the Active Mobility Patrol Scheme, who are tasked to educate the public about the safe use of PMDs, will also be empowered under the proposed law to obtain the personal particulars of errant users.

Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said the proposed penalties will serve as a "strong deterrent to all riders and users against reckless and irresponsible behaviour".

On Monday, the LTA said it had seized 20 electric scooters since May, after their owners were found riding on the roads. More than 1,400 notices have also been issued to cyclists for using non-compliant e-bikes between January and September this year, the LTA said.

Last month, two e-bike users were killed after they were hit by a trailer truck.

Transport consultant Gopinath Menon said besides education and mutual understanding between different road users, penalties are necessary to promote the right behaviour. "Without the teeth, you can't get things done," he added.

The Active Mobility Bill will likely be debated in Parliament at its next sitting in January.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2016, with the headline 'Penalties for errant PMD users and sellers in proposed law'. Print Edition | Subscribe