SINGAPORE - More than 100 riders of e-scooters and other personal mobility devices (PMDs) were warned by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) for riding on footpaths on Tuesday (Nov 5).
In response to queries, the LTA said it has issued more than 100 warnings as of 5pm, on the first day that a ban of e-scooters from footpaths kicked in.
The ban will be progressively expanded to other motorised PMDs, such as hoverboards and unicycles, by the first quarter of next year.
LTA also said it will issue warnings to riders till Dec 31, but will take “strict enforcement action” against serious cases.
Under new rules announced on Monday, users of e-scooters are banned from riding their devices on the 5,500km of footpaths in Singapore.
This means that the use of e-scooters, which are already banned on roads, will be confined to 440km of cycling paths.
From next year, those caught riding an e-scooter on footpaths can be fined up to $2,000 and/or jailed for up to three months.
Checks by The Straits Times on Tuesday found that there was a drop in the number of food delivery riders on e-scooters using footpaths even as some continue to use the devices to make deliveries.
In the Jurong East area along Jurong Gateway Road on Tuesday morning, only about seven food delivery riders were spotted using e-scooters over a period of three hours.
The area is regarded as a potential hot spot for offences involving personal mobility devices (PMDs).
Seven LTA enforcement officers were seen there when ST visited the area from about 10am to noon.
But while a few of the officers were armed with fliers to inform riders of where they will not be able to ride under the new rules, the officers ended their shift having reached out to only one e-scooter user in the two-hour window.
Riders told ST the number of riders using e-scooters to deliver food in the area was much lower on Tuesday than what they are used to seeing.
GrabFood rider Adrin Lim, 27, said: "I usually see many other food delivery riders on e-scooters by (around noon) but I haven't seen anyone doing that in the last hour."
In a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon, LTA said it also deployed enforcement officers in Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh to warn e-scooter riders travelling on footpaths that they are no longer allowed to do so.
"We are issuing warnings at this stage to give users some time to adjust to the new rule. Come next year, we will take a zero tolerance approach and offenders will be liable for a fine up to $2,000 and/or jail up to three months."
But despite the threat of a fine and even jail time, riders who were still using their e-scooters on footpaths said they will continue to do so for as long as they can, even as they hold out hope for a softened stance from the Government.
Food delivery riders continued their practice of warning each other of the presence of LTA's enforcement officers in several areas through social media channels, so as to help the riders avoid getting into trouble.
Asked if he was worried about potential repercussions, Mr Lim said: "No, I will fight any punishment, because the shared path network is not so developed in Singapore.
"I hope the Government will know our feelings. For some people like me, we are doing this as our full-time job, so this ban makes it very hard for us to do our job."
Foodpanda delivery rider Yeo Ming Fong, 31, who last month spent $1,049 to buy a new e-scooter, said: "I can't cycle because I have a leg injury, so for people like me it is convenient.
"We are just trying to earn a living."
A few petitions decrying the ban on the Change.org platform have seen their numbers swell since they were set up.
One, titled "Petition on behalf of all PMD users in Singapore: Allow PMD on Footpaths or Roads", had collected nearly 11,600 signatures as of Tuesday evening.
The petition's founders said banning PMDs meant the loss of livelihood for food delivery riders and transport for parents who take their children to school on the devices, among other things.
Some PMD users attempted to get around the new ban by riding their devices on grass patches alongside footpaths.
But the National Parks Board said on Tuesday that PMD users should not ride on the green verges beside footpaths without permission. If convicted of doing so, offenders can be fined up to $5,000.
Additional reporting by Wong Kai Yi