Footpath ban on e-scooters

Food delivery riders voice concerns to Shanmugam

Several MPs approached for help; riders say jobs affected due to insufficient cycling paths

About 30 food delivery riders met Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam on Tuesday evening to voice their concerns that the ban on e-scooters from footpaths would affect their livelihoods.

They gathered at Mr Shanmugam's Meet-the-People Session in Yishun over the ban, which came into effect on Tuesday.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Mr Shanmugam said it was a "good, civil meeting", and that he would call for another one.

The Nee Soon GRC MP met three of the riders in his branch office, before moving outside to meet the rest in an open area outside his office.

"I said we understood their position, but I would also convey their views to the Ministry of Transport, and to the Cabinet," Mr Shanmugam said.

The minister was among several MPs that e-scooter users have approached for help.

Tampines GRC MP Desmond Choo said: "They asked if food delivery riders could be given special licences if they passed tests and were insured. That could be viable and should be studied further."

The footpath ban has caused widespread concern among e-scooter users here since it was announced in Parliament on Monday.

Many pedestrians, on the other hand, welcomed the move.

 
 
 

An informal Facebook poll by government feedback unit Reach on Tuesday, which was open for 24 hours, found that 51 per cent of 9,100 respondents were against the ban, with the remaining supporting it. 

Some MPs had previously called for personal mobility devices (PMDs) to be banned.

But while Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min acknowledged safety concerns back in August, he said then that the authorities were mindful that tens of thousands of Singaporeans were benefiting daily from their usage.

There are about 100,000 registered e-scooters in Singapore.

About 7,000 people working for the three major food delivery companies - Deliveroo, GrabFood and Foodpanda - use e-scooters.

Many riders said they are worried that the ban will affect their ability to carry out their jobs as there are not enough cycling paths.

The Land Transport Authority said its officers have issued more than 360 warnings to errant riders caught riding on footpaths as of 5pm yesterday.

A food delivery rider, who wanted to be known only as Mr Z, told The Straits Times that he was among those who met Mr Shanmugam because the ban "really affected our rice bowl".

"A lot of people are suffering," added Mr Z, 37.

Yesterday, about 50 food delivery riders who use e-scooters also gathered at a Meet-the-People Session in Ang Mo Kio to voice their concerns. There, a few representatives said they met a grassroots leader.

GrabFood rider Lee Bee Leng, 46, said they were advised to submit a joint letter on their concerns and suggestions.

Speaking in Mandarin, she said: "We are not here to protest. We just want to give our side of the story."

Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah said she is talking to both food delivery riders and parents who use e-scooters to ferry their children to and from school about how they can switch to other modes of transport or use the cycling path network in Yishun.

For food delivery riders, she will also look into measures such as helping them to buy bicycles where necessary.

Mr Louis Ng, another MP for Nee Soon GRC, has been approached for help by about 10 residents. He said: "We are looking into providing some interim financial assistance to food delivery riders from low-income families who depend on this for their livelihood.

"It hasn't been easy for them as they lost their livelihood overnight and will have to adapt now."

This article has been edited for clarity.


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E-scooters on roads not the answer

Peace of mind on footpaths

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2019, with the headline 'Food delivery riders voice concerns to Shanmugam'. Print Edition | Subscribe