Stepping up safety of e-bike users, others

There are about 15,000 e-bikes in use here, according to figures from the Land Transport Authority. Registration of such personal mobility devices is set to begin in the middle of this year, the authority says.
There are about 15,000 e-bikes in use here, according to figures from the Land Transport Authority. Registration of such personal mobility devices is set to begin in the middle of this year, the authority says.TNP FILE PHOTO

Observers laud Bill on registration of devices but suggest more ways to educate their users

Observers welcomed the registration of electric bicycles under the Active Mobility Bill, but said more could be done to ensure the safety of personal mobility device (PMD) users and those around them.

There are about 15,000 e-bikes in use here, figures from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) show.

Founder of e-bike community Power Assisted Cyclists SG Swen Einhaus said registration was only a minor inconvenience.

"It shouldn't take too much work or money for users to register their bikes," he said, adding that this may help repair the "terrible image" of e-bikes and possibly even encourage more people to ride them.

There were a number of fatal accidents involving e-bikes last year, most recently in November when 62-year-old delivery rider Heng Hock Kim died after he was hit by a tipper truck while on his e-bike.

Retailers said e-bike sales had fallen after stricter rules imposed in 2015 banned the use of throttles that allow the bikes to move without the user having to pedal.

The new regulations were unlikely to make them more attractive, said Mr Ong Beng Teng, owner of Ubi bicycle shop Esibike. "E-scooters are more popular now."

Transport consultant Gopinath Menon said licensing e-bikes will "add some teeth" to enforcement efforts by the authorities, adding: "If there's no registration and licensing, people may take things lightly."

Others have suggested additional ways to educate PMD users and encourage them ride safely.

Singapore Road Safety Council chairman Bernard Tay said PMD retailers can be made to hand out brochures on safe riding behaviour and basic highway code, along with the sale of their products.

"Once people are more educated about the risks, the accident rate will come down," Mr Tay added.

Mr Aloysius Fong, who founded road safety community website Roads.sg in 2014, said even as the authorities target errant retailers who illegally alter e-bicycles and PMDs, they should also go after those who do such modifications at home.

Mr Fong also raised concerns that the new laws - which stipulate the appropriate speeds and behaviour for PMD users - could lead to disputes, as pedestrians might now feel they have a right to tell PMD riders off for moving too fast.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, the LTA said that registration of e-bikes was expected to begin in the middle of this year, adding that the exact date and details of implementation would be released "when ready".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2017, with the headline 'Stepping up safety of e-bike users, others'. Print Edition | Subscribe