SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - Riding against traffic on one-way roads, weaving in between vehicles, riding on pedestrian crossings while honking at pedestrians, and riding mostly without helmets.
This was how more than 20 people behaved on their e-bikes in Geylang in the space of five hours yesterday.
The New Paper observed their reckless behaviour on Sims Avenue and Geylang Road between Guillemard Road and Aljunied Road from around noon to 5pm.
It did not take long for the first reckless e-biker to be seen. The bulk of e-bikers who flouted the rules appeared around lunchtime.
Most of these riders were middle-aged men, and only a handful wore helmets.
Sims Avenue and Geylang Road were clogged with traffic, including heavy vehicles, but that did not deter some e-bikers from riding on the central lanes, behaving as if they were riding motorcycles.
The more daring ones even rode against the flow of traffic on these two multi-lane thoroughfares. TNP saw more than five such bikers doing so, and even weaving in between vehicles.
One was seen riding against the flow of traffic along Sims Avenue, and then making a right turn into a small lane as a car was coming out.
Another e-biker even rode on a pedestrian crossing and honked at pedestrians as he sped up to them. They stepped aside to let him pass.
Mr Ng Soo Hock, 69, who was in Geylang for a renovation job, told TNP: “These people (e-bikers who ride recklessly) are treating their lives as a joke.”
He added that an e-biker once cut across the road diagonally in front of his car. He managed to avoid hitting the e-biker, but the incident caused him much concern.
E-bikers and users of personal mobility devices (PMD) have been in the news in recent months after some of them were involved in high-profile accidents.
In the latest accident at West Coast Highway last Thursday night, two e-bikers were killed after they were hit from behind by a trailer. Their friend, who escaped with injuries, was discharged from hospital on Saturday.
While details of how the accident occurred are unclear, some netizens have been relating their experiences with reckless e-bikers on the roads.
Land Transport Authority (LTA) regulations, introduced last December, state that every e-biker must ride as close as possible to the left side of the road.
E-bikes, also known as power-assisted bikes (PAB), must also be no heavier than 20kg, and must have a maximum device speed of 25kmh. Riding without a helmet on roads and against the flow of traffic are also disallowed.
Fines for first-time offenders were raised from $100 to $300.
Despite these rules, some e-bikes are illegally modified to make them faster than 25kmh. Modifying an e-bike to increase its maximum speed by installing more powerful engines or throttles is also illegal.
A sales assistant at an e-bike shop, who wanted to be known only as “Ah Gong”, told TNP yesterday that he could modify e-bikes to be as fast as 40kmh, 15kmh above the speed limit set by the LTA.
He also said that most of the customers who asked him to modify their e-bikes were under the age of 20.
Madam Ling Chwe Yeong, 63, who lives in Sims Drive in Geylang and works at a seafood stall in Lorong 17, told TNP that many young people ride their e-bikes in the area at night.
She said in Mandarin: “At about 3am, when I end my shift, there will be a whole group of young people playing around with their e-bikes.
“I don’t dare to go near them as they ride very fast.”
Two e-bike shops told TNP that buyers are required to verify their age because an e-bike rider has to be at least 16 years old.
Employees at another e-bike shop said the shop sells only LTA-approved e-bicycles.
An e-bike shop owner also told TNP that modifications to make e-bikes go faster are increasingly being done by third parties and not at e-bike shops.