Sharing footpaths: Most OK with bicycles, but not e-bikes

Focus group participants on bicycles in a role-playing exercise in Yishun Ring Road yesterday. Participants used bicycles or other personal mobility devices and also rode on crowded footpaths.
Focus group participants on bicycles in a role-playing exercise in Yishun Ring Road yesterday. Participants used bicycles or other personal mobility devices and also rode on crowded footpaths.ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

Nearly six in 10 pedestrians here are open to sharing footpaths with bicycles and other non-electric personal mobility devices, such as skateboards and kick-scooters.

But for devices with a motor, including electric bicycles, the number drops by around half.

These findings, released yesterday, come from a month-long survey of over 5,000 people by the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

The survey is meant to help hammer out a new set of rules and norms on the use of personal mobility devices.

Those surveyed, who included users of both motorised and non-motorised devices, also suggested several ideas - including making it a must for cyclists to slow down when approaching pedestrians and imposing speed limits.

  • WHAT PEOPLE THINK

  • Willing to share footpaths with bicycles and non-motorised personal mobility devices.

    Agree: 55 per cent

    Neutral: 10 per cent

    Disagree: 35 per cent

  • Willing to share footpaths with e-bicycles and other motorised personal mobility devices.

    Agree: 34 per cent

    Neutral: 12 per cent

    Disagree: 54 per cent

  • Willing to share the roads with bicycles

    Agree: 53 per cent

    Neutral: 15 per cent

    Disagree: 32 per cent

"There's a recognition that we need to look after one another, those who are faster... they need to look out for the safety of pedestrians, which I think is fair," said Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, who is heading a 14-member advisory panel formed in July.

The panel is tasked with coming up with a set of rules to help govern the use of these mobility devices.

Dr Faishal is an MP for Nee Soon GRC who was Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Health until the end of September before moving to the Education, and Social and Family Development ministries. He was speaking just before the panel conducted its third focus group discussion.

About 30 members of the public took part. Focus group participant and e-scooter user Kevin Soh, 52, said he was encouraged by the survey results. "I think people understand that if we're not using these devices, we'd be driving or competing for space on the MRT," said Dr Soh, a medical specialist.

Panel member Denis Koh, who heads Big Wheel Scooters Singapore, a group of electric scooter users, felt a lot of conflict on footpaths could be avoided if users were more gracious. "This sense of sharing is definitely a must, people need to know these are common spaces."

Three more discussions have been scheduled before year end. The findings from the survey and discussions will be distilled into a set of recommendations, which will be released by the second quarter of next year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2015, with the headline 'Sharing footpaths: Most OK with bicycles, but not e-bikes'. Print Edition | Subscribe