The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is tightening technical requirements for motorised bicycles and has rolled out far stiffer penalties, as the number of offences related to these two-wheelers soars.
With immediate effect, the fine for the first offence by errant riders, such as those who use non-compliant motorised bikes, will be trebled to $300. Repeat offenders face a fine of $500, up from $200 previously, the LTA said yesterday.
Repeat offenders may also be charged in court and have their bicycles seized.
Retailers found selling non-compliant motorised bikes or modifying these bikes illegally will continue to be charged in court.
The harsher penalties come as the number of summonses issued for the use or sale of illegal motorised bikes rose from just 11 in 2008 to 1,280 in the first 10 months of this year, according to LTA figures.
At least 20 people have been caught this week for using illegal motorised bikes.
The LTA said it is also considering possible legislative amendments "to further increase the penalties". It said the move reflects "significant safety concerns" over these bikes.
And from Dec 1, new motorised bicycles must meet the European Standard EN15194 and not weigh more than 20kg. However, the maximum output of their motors is being raised to 250 watts, from 200 watts currently. Top speed remains capped at 25kmh, and only electric motors are allowed.
The LTA said bikes that meet EN15194 - which is adopted by 33 countries across Europe as well as Australia - are harder to modify illegally.
From Dec 1, bike retailers may submit applications for type approval of models that meet these tighter technical requirements - similar to what car importers must do. Applications can be made to LTA-authorised vehicle inspection centres, and bicycles which pass will be affixed with more prominent orange seals.
Bikes which have been approved under the current requirements and affixed with blue seals will still be allowed for use on public roads.
Mr Chris Kuah, owner of A-Tech Bike Supply, which sells up to 300 motorised bikes a month, said he understands the new rules "because I have kids myself". "Some of these riders speed along corridors and, because of the weight of these bikes, they can be quite dangerous to pedestrians," he said.
But he added that the 20kg limit "is a bit tight", as many motorised bikes weigh 50kg. "Some weigh as much as 90kg," he added. "Even a normal (non-motorised) bike weighs 17 to 18kg."
Mr Kuah said, however, there are a handful of models which can meet the new weight limit.