Stiffer fines, jail for errant users of mobility devices

A man rides an e-scooter along Marymount Road.
A man rides an e-scooter along Marymount Road. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Those riding on public roads to be dealt with more harshly, amid rise in number of cases

From Jan 15, personal mobility device (PMD) users caught riding on public roads will face fines of up to $2,000 and/or a jail term of three months, in addition to having their devices impounded.

In a toughened stance against an increasing number of offenders, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday that a composition fine of $300 will be imposed on first-time offenders who ride on local roads, and $500 on those caught on major roads.

First-timers nabbed on expressways will be charged in court. If convicted, they will face a maximum penalty of a $2,000 fine and jail term of three months.

Repeat court convictions will carry a maximum fine of $5,000 and/or a jail term of up to six months. This applies to those caught using PMDs on any public road.

The penalty now is a $100 composition fine for first-timers, regardless of the type of road they are on.

Second-timers are fined $200, and those caught for the third time onwards are fined $500.

Since the advent of PMDs such as electric scooters and hoverboards two years ago, more have been sighted on roads, even though they are strictly for use on footpaths and park connectors.

In the first 11 months of last year, an average of 40 users were caught monthly. This was 18 per cent more than the monthly average of 34 recorded in 2016.

The LTA said it is an offence under the Road Traffic Act to ride PMDs on roads. Electric bicycles, however, are allowed on roads, except expressways. But observers said the line separating e-bikes and other PMDs is fast blurring.

The new Active Mobility Act may address the situation. It will require users, among other things, to ensure their PMDs weigh no more than 20kg and measure no wider than 700mm. They also cannot exceed a speed limit of 15kmh on footpaths, and 25kmh on cycling and shared paths in park connectors.

Meanwhile, the LTA has increased the number of enforcement officers from 24 in June to more than 50. Officers are also being equipped with speed guns to check speed limits.

"With the increasing popularity of food delivery services, we have also been working with such companies to educate their PMD delivery crew on safe riding tips and rules, like not riding on the roads," it said.

The tougher laws followseveral PMD-related incidents. Last November, a 52-year-old man using a PMD died in an accident with a bus in Kaki Bukit. In the same month, another man was arrested after a video showing an e-scooter zipping down the Pan-Island Expressway went viral on social media.

Last October, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan told Parliament there were about 90 accidents involving electric bicycles and PMDs in the first half of last year. These resulted in four deaths and about 90 injuries.

Motorist Mervyn Tan, 52, an insurance agent, is glad tougher laws are on hand, but wonders if enforcement would be adequate.

"There are too few officers and too many of these riders," he said. "Having them on the pavement is not ideal either. Pedestrians have the right of way, but do they feel that way?

"In my view, these devices should not have been approved in the first place."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2018, with the headline 'Stiffer fines, jail for errant users of mobility devices'. Print Edition | Subscribe