Why It Matters

Inroads into safer e-bike use

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced on Wednesday last week that users of power-assisted bicycles - popularly known as electric bicycles or e-bikes - will have to register them from next Monday.

From February next year, those using e-bikes without a valid registration plate may be fined, jailed or both.

First mooted by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel in March last year, registration is only the latest in a long line of regulations for these two-wheelers, aimed at improving the safety of e-bike riders as well as pedestrians and other road users.

However, despite restrictions such as limits being placed on weight and speed, and the banning of throttles - which allow bikes to move without pedalling - coming into place over the past two years, the number of e-bike accidents has been increasing.

There were 54 accidents involving e-bikes last year, a 38 per cent increase from 2015, when there were 39 accidents.

Not all these accidents can be blamed on errant e-bike users.

However, to the extent that they are, registration plates will help make the job of enforcement officers easier.

While e-bikes that meet the LTA's standards are currently already required to bear a seal of approval from the authority, this is small and not easily spotted from afar.

Requiring e-bikes to have registration plates will allow two-wheelers that are non-compliant or which are illegally modified to be more easily identified by the authorities as well as members of the public.

This will result in greater accountability on the part of the riders, and reduce the chances of these devices being abused by errant users.

This will help ensure a safer road environment for e-bike riders, as well as pedestrians and other road users.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2017, with the headline 'Inroads into safer e-bike use'. Print Edition | Subscribe