A wheel menace: Spike in number of accidents involving e-bikes in 2016

E-biker users spotted in Geylang riding in the bus lane and going against traffic. E-bikes came into the spotlight after a number of tragic accidents last year.
E-biker users spotted in Geylang riding in the bus lane and going against traffic. E-bikes came into the spotlight after a number of tragic accidents last year.ST PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG, TNP FILE
E-biker users spotted in Geylang riding in the bus lane and going against traffic. E-bikes came into the spotlight after a number of tragic accidents last year.
E-biker users spotted in Geylang riding in the bus lane and going against traffic. E-bikes came into the spotlight after a number of tragic accidents last year.ST PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG, TNP FILE
E-biker users spotted in Geylang riding in the bus lane and going against traffic. E-bikes came into the spotlight after a number of tragic accidents last year.
E-biker users spotted in Geylang riding in the bus lane and going against traffic. E-bikes came into the spotlight after a number of tragic accidents last year.ST PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG, TNP FILE

Spike in number of accidents involving e-bikes last year, with trend continuing this year

There has been a spike in the number of electric bicycles (e-bikes) involved in accidents last year, according to figures provided by the Traffic Police.

Accidents resulting in injuries involving e-bikes went up from 39 in 2015 to 54 last year .

Fatal accidents involving the two-wheelers dropped from five in 2015 to three last year.

E-bikes came into the spotlight after a number of tragic accidents last year.

Last November, 62-year-old Heng Hock Kim died after he was hit by a tipper truck while riding his e-bike in the Central Business District.

The previous month, Mr Ang Yee Fong, 25, and Mr Ong Zi Quan, 18, died after they were hit by a trailer truck while riding their e-bikes along West Coast Highway at night.

The trend continued this year when a 57-year-old man - identified by Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao as Mr Ng Cheo Kok - died after his e-bike collided with a car in Hougang, in February. This year's figures are not available.

  • 54

    Number of accidents involving e-bikes that resulted in injuries last year, up from 39 in 2015

    132

    Number of personal mobility devices seized between January and April this year

Separately, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it seized 132 personal mobility devices (PMDs), such as e-scooters, between January and April this year, as part of its enforcement operations. The users were found riding them on the roads where they are not permitted. There are no figures for accidents involving PMDs.

The authorities have been tightening regulations on the use of e-bikes and PMDs.

E-bikes must have a seal of approval from the LTA, which requires that the bikes have a maximum speed of only 25kmh, among other criteria. PMDs do not need this seal.

The e-bikes also cannot be equipped with a throttle, which would allow them to move without pedalling. They will soon need to be registered to an owner and carry registration plates.

Having them registered may mean users of e-bikes, which are allowed on the roads, have access to insurance for third-party claims.

Only NTUC Income currently offers an insurance policy for PMD users, cyclists and e-bike users.

Several Members of Parliament (MP) have also suggested third-party insurance to cover claims from victims in accidents involving PMDs.

No registration is currently required for PMDs.

However, Mr Anthony Chey, insurance partner at law firm RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, said: "If there is no registration, it would be almost impossible to impose mandatory insurance."

While active communities can help encourage safe riding, e-bike groups here tend to focus on illegally modifying their devices, said Mr Denis Koh, chairman of e-scooter enthusiast group Big Wheel Scooters Singapore.

Modifying an e-bike by installing more powerful engines or throttles is illegal and first-time offenders can be fined up to $2,000 or jailed for up to three months.

Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said it is of "paramount importance" that e-bike riders and other road users, including pedestrians, be aware of each other and be considerate while on the roads.

"I urge all road users to place safety of yourselves and other road users above all other considerations, whatever mode of transportation you choose to use."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 04, 2017, with the headline 'A wheel menace'. Print Edition | Subscribe