E-bike rules a missed opportunity to innovate

Though most pedestrians will welcome the Land Transport Authority's proposed restrictions on motorised bicycles, the move represents a lost opportunity to innovate and introduce new technology to our roads ("LTA clamps down on motorised bikes"; last Friday).

On a recent trip to Denmark, my wife and I were impressed by not only the number of bicycles being used in Copenhagen, but also the "cargo bikes" used by small businesses and families to deliver goods, ferry children to school and take groceries home.

The cargo compartments on these bikes are large enough for small loads, and many are covered in canvas to provide weather protection.

There are a few cargo bikes in Singapore - in places like Chinatown and Little India. Most are old, as are their riders. None appear to be licensed.

Innovation can come in by combining the cargo bike with the more powerful battery-powered motorised bicycle. This would give it greater range and functionality, as well as be in line with LTA's initiative to bring greener cars onto our roads.

I hope the authorities will see the growing use of electric bicycles as an opportunity to innovate, and focus on developing a regulatory framework for such electric vehicles that will encourage local innovation and bring us a greener Singapore.

A. Lee Gilbert (Professor)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2015, with the headline 'E-bike rules a missed opportunity to innovate'. Subscribe