Singapore Budget 2015: LTA to consult on wider use of bicycles, personal electric vehicles

SINGAPORE - Concerns about commuter safety were raised by four MPs on Wednesday, as more people take to bicycles and personal electric vehicles to get around.

Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport chairman Cedric Foo (Pioneer) called for clearer rules and norms for cyclists and pedestrians as bicycle usage increases and footpaths become more congested.

Mr Ang Wei Neng (Jurong GRC) asked the Ministry of Transport (MOT) to consider registering motorized bicycle users for better control and enforcement, while Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC) called for riding tests, licensing, road tax and insurance requirements for owners of motorised bicycles.

"Motorised bicycles are becoming a major hazard on our pavements and our roads. Despite the penalties, there is growing demand for such vehicles, including those modified illegally which can go up to 120kmh," said Mr Gan. "What will the Ministry do to solve this problem?"

Dr Janil Puthucheary (Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC) also called for clearer rules for personal mobility devices, noting that such modes of transport are coming to market quicker than legislation can catch up. He called on the government to develop a consensus framework on how to decide whether a particular device or usage is acceptable or not.

In reply to their queries, Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim agreed with members that a clear and consistent set of rules and norms on the use of bicycles and personal mobility devices, or PMDs, would be helpful.

"In the coming months, LTA will consult all stakeholders, to try to strike an appropriate balance between the different needs and views." he said. "One area of consultation could be on how cycling and the use of PMDs should be regulated to encourage the right behavior, a concern that Mr Ang and Mr Gan have raised."

Associate Professor Faishal said a one-size-fits-all approach is not necessary, and it is possible that there will be a general set of rules and norms governing the use of such devices across Singapore, and a slightly different set for towns that are ready to embrace more progressive rules and norms.

Tampines - which has an extensive network of designated cycling paths - is one example of how bicycles and pedestrians can co-exist closely, he said.

"Guided by a set of clearly defined rules and norms, and with education efforts supported by passionate grassroots leaders, residents in Tampines have been able to use footpaths for both walking and cycling in a safe manner," he added.