New LTA unit to ensure safe riding on footpaths

Officers of the new Active Mobility Enforcement Team will be armed with foldable bicycles and speed guns and be deployed daily at high-traffic spots.
Officers of the new Active Mobility Enforcement Team will be armed with foldable bicycles and speed guns and be deployed daily at high-traffic spots.ST PHOTO: Seah Kwang Peng

Enforcement team armed with speed guns will be deployed daily at high-traffic hot spots

If you are zipping down a footpath on a bicycle, do not be surprised if someone dressed in a yellow top and black bermudas stops you and asks you to pedal safely.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) launched a new unit yesterday to patrol pavements and cycling paths, and crack down on cyclists and personal mobility device (PMD) users who speed or ride recklessly on these.

Officers of the new Active Mobility Enforcement Team will be armed with foldable bicycles and speed guns and be deployed daily at high-traffic hot spots - such as areas outside schools, bus stops and pedestrian crossings - to ensure the safe sharing of these spaces.

It is currently illegal to ride a bicycle or use PMDs such as e-scooters on sidewalks, but the authorities announced last month that the law will be amended to allow bicycles and most PMDs on such paths.

The enforcement unit was also announced last month, as part of measures to ensure safety after the new rules take effect.

"Our officers will be on the ground... to advise (the public) on the incoming law, so they will not be unprepared when the rules and regulations kick in later this year," said Mr Willy Soo, a deputy manager in LTA's enforcement division.

For now, the enforcement team will focus on education and pass out brochures and advisories with safety tips, said LTA.

This is because the new team does not have powers to issue fines to reckless riders until the new rules take effect.

Currently, cyclists found riding rashly can be prosecuted by the Traffic Police and fined up to $5,000, jailed for up to a year, or both, if found guilty.

Yesterday, Mr Soo and three officers were deployed in Woodlands Avenue 7, an area where many residents commute by bicycle to work at the nearby industrial estate.

Residents, cyclists and PMD users welcomed the new enforcement team, saying that their visible presence will help ensure safety.

"Sometimes, cyclists here speed through the bus stops. If you have small children and they are walking around, it is not very safe," said Mr He Ya Peng, 36, a resident who works in customer service.

Engineer Andre Villegas, 33, cycles daily to his workplace in Gambas and said he sees cyclists speeding on the pavement even though there is a park connector.

"I think (the officers) will make the area safer. Sometimes in the morning, these people cycle quickly to rush to work," he said.

The new enforcement team will also join the Traffic Police in joint enforcement exercises at hot spots.

"The presence of our dedicated enforcement team will provide the reassurance that we will not tolerate any reckless behaviour by cyclists or personal mobility device users," said LTA chief executive Chew Men Leong in a media statement.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2016, with the headline 'New LTA unit to ensure safe riding on footpaths'. Print Edition | Subscribe