PARLIAMENT

Import of PMDs, e-bikes to require LTA nod

A sign in Boon Lay Way indicating that personal mobility devices (PMDs) cannot be ridden on footpaths. Open spaces such as courtyards and plazas will be designated as public paths later this year. Bicycles are allowed on public paths, but motorised P
A sign in Boon Lay Way indicating that personal mobility devices (PMDs) cannot be ridden on footpaths. Open spaces such as courtyards and plazas will be designated as public paths later this year. Bicycles are allowed on public paths, but motorised PMDs such as e-scooters and PABs are banned.ST FILE PHOTO

Some continue to use devices that do not meet safety standards, says Lam

Open spaces such as courtyards and plazas will be designated as public paths later this year, enabling the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to take enforcement action against errant cyclists and personal mobility device (PMD) users.

And LTA's approval will be required before any business or individual can import PMDs or power-assisted bicycles (PABs), with offenders facing a fine and jail time.

These are measures introduced under two separate Bills passed yesterday, as the authorities take steps to strengthen laws and enforcement amid a growing number of people using these devices to get around.

The debate for both Bills was held concurrently in Parliament, with 11 MPs speaking on the issues.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min told the House that the Active Mobility (Amendment No. 2) Bill will allow path-connected open spaces such as atriums to be declared as public paths.

Bicycles are allowed on public paths, but motorised PMDs such as e-scooters and PABs are banned.

Dr Lam said this will provide clarity to all path users and empower LTA to enforce rules in these areas to reduce potential conflict.

"We understand that some of these path-connected open spaces are used for community or municipal functions, such as grassroots events... We will facilitate events and activities by allowing open spaces to be closed temporarily."

The Bill will also let LTA immediately forfeit non-compliant devices posing fire risks and dispose of them once the 30-day notice period to submit an objection has lapsed.

Meanwhile, the Small Motorised Vehicles (Safety) Bill will make it illegal for anyone to import PMDs and PABs without LTA's approval from the first quarter of next year.

For the first offence, individuals can be fined up to $5,000 and/or jailed for up to six months while businesses can be fined up to $10,000.

 
 

Dr Lam said import restrictions were needed as some people continued to use devices that do not meet required safety standards.

Last year, all 115 fire incidents involving PMDs and PABs were due to non-compliant devices.

In addition, 972 users were found riding non-compliant PMDs and PABs on public paths and roads. Eleven retailers were caught displaying non-compliant devices and failing to put up warning notices about device requirements.

Explaining the timing of the Bills, Dr Lam said there is growing use of active mobility devices worldwide since the outbreak of Covid-19.

A similar trend has been observed in Singapore, with people taking more trips between their homes and neighbourhood centres, he said.

With even more people expected to use the devices in the coming years, stronger laws and enforcement are required, said Dr Lam.

With more areas now designated as public paths, LTA will mark out the different kinds of path-connected open space, he said in response to questions from Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok) and Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan.

But Dr Lam clarified that void decks and the space in front of commercial spaces in estates will not be reclassified as public paths. These areas will continue to be regulated under the town councils' by-laws.

Several MPs, such as Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC) and Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC), asked how the authorities will enforce the rules against errant retailers and people who illegally modify their devices.

Dr Lam said in response that the Government will continue to come down hard on them. This complements other existing requirements such as mandatory inspections.

 
 

Separately, the High Court (Admiralty Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill was also passed in Parliament yesterday.

Senior Minister of State for Law Edwin Tong said the Bill further incentivises those carrying out salvage operations to protect the environment. It will update Singapore's maritime legal framework to be in line with international practice.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2020, with the headline 'Import of PMDs, e-bikes to require LTA nod'. Print Edition | Subscribe