Tighter rules on motorised bicycles that kick in next month will make roads and pedestrian pathways safer, said road users and cycling groups.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced yesterday that from Dec 1, new motorised bicycles must meet the European Standard EN15194 and not weigh more than 20kg. Top speed remains capped at 25kmh, and only electric motors are allowed.
"Just these two rules alone send a clear indication of what is right and what is wrong," said Mr Denis Koh, who heads interest group Big Wheel Scooters Singapore, referring to the weight and speed limits.
Limiting the weight of the bikes makes it hard for users to modify their bikes to go really fast, he said, adding that some can go up to 70 or 80kmh, faster than a motorcycle.
"The difference is that those who ride motorised bikes on the road don't go for licences like motorcyclists so they don't know traffic rules. When you give a powerful machine to someone ignorant of the traffic rules, it becomes dangerous for all the stakeholders," he said.
The LTA told The Straits Times an enforcement operation was conducted with the police on Monday along Woodlands Crescent and 10 people were caught using bikes fitted with a throttle - one of the most common illegal modifications. A throttle enables a bicycle to function more like a motorcycle, and is considered dangerous as it can cause a bike to inadvertently jump off from a stationary position, say, at a traffic junction.
On Wednesday, another 10 people were nabbed during an operation at Pioneer Road North, Jurong West streets 91 to 93 and Jurong West streets 81 to 83. Of these, seven were caught using bike throttles and three were using unapproved bike models. Three bikes were seized as they were used by recalcitrant offenders.
Mr Francis Chu, 54, co-founder of the Love Cycling SG group, welcomed the new rules and the new fine of $300, but suggested that the authorities look into shops that do the modifications instead of cyclists. "The enforcement on the end-user requires a lot of resources, but if you're able to trace back to the source, if the shop gets fined and stops modifying motorised bikes, you solve the problem of 100 potential illegal users," he said.
Civil servant Celine Thomasz, 52, however, would like to see motorised bicycles banned altogether, or licensed as motorbikes. While users are only allowed to ride motorised bikes on roads, this has not stopped some of them from using pavements.
"Only old-fashioned bikes should be allowed. If it goes any faster, it should be classified as a motorcycle. There are a lot of children and elderly people who use the pavements and it's very dangerous for them."