Parliament Debate on ministries' budgets: Transport

Theory tests for e-scooter, e-bike riders from mid-2021

All bikes on public paths must have at least one brake by Sept

Mandatory theory tests for e-scooter and electric bicycle riders will begin from the middle of this year, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Baey Yam Keng said yesterday.

This will ensure all riders of such motorised devices know the prevailing rules and codes of conduct, he said during the debate on his ministry's budget.

In another move to improve safety, Mr Baey said all bicycles used on public paths and roads will also be required to have at least one functioning handbrake with effect from September.

While he did not give a firm date on when mandatory testing for e-scooter and e-bike riders would start, he said a test handbook will be released next month.

The announcement comes more than a year after the idea for a mandatory test was first mooted by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP) in September 2019, following a spate of accidents involving mobility devices and the death of a cyclist after a collision with a speeding, non-compliant e-scooter.

The AMAP had also proposed the requirement for all bicycles to have at least one working handbrake, which the Government accepted in January. It was prompted by a fatal accident involving a bicycle without brakes last year.

Highlighting other efforts to improve safety on public paths, such as mandatory third-party liability insurance for those who use active mobility devices for work, Mr Baey said the authorities will also step up education efforts.

A new campaign will be launched in May to raise awareness on how paths can be shared in a safe and gracious manner.

There are also plans to refresh the Safe Riding Programme started in 2018, in the second quarter of this year, to make it more interactive.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) asked for more to be done to ensure the safety of pedestrians using footpaths and park connectors.

While banning e-scooters from footpaths has brought some relief, the growing number of cyclists has led to regular complaints of irresponsible behaviour, he said, urging the authorities to step up enforcement and install more cameras.

Mr Baey noted that accidents involving motorised personal mobility devices (PMDs) on footpaths fell by almost 80 per cent between 2019 and last year. There were 30 such accidents last year compared with 144 the year before.

"What is most important is that we continue working with the community to reduce accidents," he said. "In a small, land-constrained city like Singapore, active mobility infrastructure and regulations can only go so far. All of us have a critical role to play too."

Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor said a new import controls regime for PMDs and e-bikes will be rolled out in the first half of the year to further enhance safety by preventing the import of non-compliant mobility devices.

Under current regulations, PMDs ridden in public must meet the UL2272 fire safety standard, cannot exceed 20kg in weight and 70cm in width, and can only have a top speed of 25kmh.

Dr Khor said the authorities will continue to inspect mobility devices regularly to deter illegal modifications. She added: "Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, many Singaporeans have embraced cycling and walking... we are harnessing this momentum to enhance the safety and ease of using (walk, cycle and ride) modes."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2021, with the headline 'Theory tests for e-scooter, e-bike riders from mid-2021'. Subscribe