Holding and using phone while riding PMD, bicycle to be banned from next month

A young couple riding a personal mobility device in Toa Payoh in April. The new measures are part of the Government's changes to the Active Mobility Act passed in February to improve safety on the use of devices such as bicycles and electric scooters
A young couple riding a personal mobility device in Toa Payoh in April. The new measures are part of the Government's changes to the Active Mobility Act passed in February to improve safety on the use of devices such as bicycles and electric scooters.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

From next month, those under 16 years old can be fined or even jailed for riding an electric scooter without adult supervision.

Cyclists and users of personal mobility devices will also be banned from holding and using their mobile phones while riding.

In addition, a code of conduct will be introduced to advise pedestrians on the safe practices.

The measures, which were proposed by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP) late last year, are part of the Government's changes to the Active Mobility Act passed in February to improve safety on the use of devices such as bicycles and electric scooters.

Other measures that have been implemented include tougher penalties for errant users and requiring retailers to send e-scooters for safety inspections.

The various measures were proposed and introduced in response to a growing number of fires and accidents involving e-scooters last year.

There was also a growing number of active mobility offences, with about 4,900 offences detected last year.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) told The Straits Times that the rule banning those under 16 from riding e-scooters alone on public paths will tackle reckless riding by young people.

The only exception will be made for those who are riding under proper adult supervision.

Meanwhile, the ban on holding and operating a mobile communication device while riding will address safety concerns related to distracted riding. Riders can use their devices only if they are mounted or used in a hands-free manner.

Those who flout either of the new rules can be fined up to $1,000 or face up to three months in jail for the first offence.

The maximum punishment will be doubled for subsequent offences.

The rules will be enforced by LTA's team of about 200 active mobility enforcement officers.

Food delivery rider Arissa Iman, 35, who uses a bicycle, told ST that she welcomes the rules.

STAYING SAFE

I strongly agree with it as I have almost knocked into other cyclists when they were not concentrating and were instead looking at their phones.

FOOD DELIVERY RIDER ARISSA IMAN, 35, who uses a bicycle, saying she welcomes the rules on not using the phone while riding.

  • Code of conduct 

  • First, pedestrians should keep to the left when walking on paths unless they are overtaking others. 

    Second, they should walk on footpaths whenever these paths are available next to cycling and shared paths. 

    3

    Third, they should pay attention to their surroundings while walking, and not be focused on their mobile or audio devices.

She still sees young e-scooter riders out on the paths late at night in the Choa Chu Kang area, and had noticed that most e-scooter riders who have been causing a nuisance are younger riders.

On the ban covering the holding and using of a phone while riding, Ms Arissa said: "I strongly agree with it as I have almost knocked into other cyclists when they were not concentrating and were instead looking at their phones.

"Some of them don't use a phone holder and balance by using one hand to steer."

Mr Denis Koh, chairman of Big Wheel Scooters Singapore e-scooter community and a former member of the AMAP, said the panel had recommended the rules based on data about accidents both in Singapore and overseas.

The panel is made up of representatives from key active mobility stakeholder groups, including seniors, cyclists, motorists and grassroots leaders.

Regarding the code of conduct for pedestrians, LTA will announce more details at a later date.

But according to the recommendations made by the AMAP, there are three key points.

First, pedestrians should keep to the left when walking on paths unless they are overtaking others.

Second, they should walk on footpaths whenever these paths are available next to cycling and shared paths.

Third, they should pay attention to their surroundings while walking, and not be focused on their mobile or audio devices.

Engineer Doreen Lee, 47, who jogs on paths with her 15-year-old daughter regularly, said the points in the code of conduct were mostly feasible.

"As long as the pedestrian keeps to the left while using his phone, I think that is relatively safe as well," she added.

 
 

Mr Koh said the code of conduct had been proposed with the pedestrian's safety in mind.

"It is not a rule but an advisory... I hope people don't take it wrongly."

He added that all measures are part of long-term planning, even with path safety improving after e-scooters were banned from footpaths last November.

Noting that more people will use active mobility devices, such as e-scooters, as the Government proceeds with its goal to triple the current cycling network from 440km to 1,320km by 2030, Mr Koh said: "This is not just a fad, it is something that is efficient and will be adopted for use in the long term."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2020, with the headline 'Holding and using phone while riding PMD, bicycle to be banned'. Print Edition | Subscribe