Committee of Supply debate

Bicycles, e-scooters may be allowed on footpaths by year end

A nationwide Active Mobility campaign will be launched this month to raise awareness of the new policies, and this will be complemented with a Cyclist Education Programme from next month.
A nationwide Active Mobility campaign will be launched this month to raise awareness of the new policies, and this will be complemented with a Cyclist Education Programme from next month.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

It could be legal to ride a bicycle or electric scooter on footpaths by the end of this year, after the Government fully accepted an expert panel's recommendations to boost the use of such devices here.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo said Singapore has to make a "quantum leap" in improving first and last mile connectivity for commuters, and close the gap with cycling cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

The new rules and guidelines released by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel last month will "significantly improve" the mobility options for everyone, she said in Parliament yesterday during the debate on her ministry's budget.

Besides recommending that personal mobility devices (PMDs) be allowed on footpaths, the panel prescribed speed limits on foot and cycling paths, and registration for power-assisted bicycles (PABs) to clamp down on the illegal modification of these devices. PABs, or e-bikes, will be allowed only on cycling and shared paths, and not on footpaths, as they pose a higher safety risk.

 
  • Transport upgrades

  • • Distance between MRT breakdowns to increase to 200,000 train-km this year.
    • Shorter MRT operating hours on the cards to allow for more maintenance.
    • Singapore Rail Academy to be set up in second half of this year to deepen our rail engineering capabilities.
    • Motorised bicycles to be registered 
    • More street-level pedestrian crossings near MRT stations.
    • Parking charges to rise, and supply of parking spaces to be crimped.

Mrs Teo said most of the panel's recommendations would be implemented by the year end. Even as she lauded the suggestions as "fair and balanced", Mrs Teo announced several measures to address safety concerns and ensure PMD users follow the rules. Several MPs had asked if enough was being done to safeguard the vulnerable on footpaths.

Mrs Teo said the Land Transport Authority will set up a dedicated enforcement team to work with the Traffic Police and National Parks Board to ensure reckless cyclists and PMD users are dealt with. There will also be stiffer fines for those who flout the rules.

"For a start, we will focus on hot spots such as crowded bus stops, and use speed guns to help us identify those who are speeding excessively," said Mrs Teo.

As for the registration of e-bikes, her ministry is still working out the details, and hopes to release more information by the year end.

Mrs Teo added that a nationwide Active Mobility campaign will be launched this month to raise awareness of the new policies. This will be complemented with a new Cyclist Education Programme from next month. A network of volunteer "wardens" will also be set up.

Mrs Teo also said a bicycle sharing scheme will be piloted in the Jurong Lake District next year, and the Government will study how it can be expanded to other residential areas.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2016, with the headline 'Bicycles, e-scooters may be allowed on footpaths by year end'. Print Edition | Subscribe