SINGAPORE - Electric scooters will be banned from footpaths from Tuesday (Nov 5), in the latest and toughest measure yet to address public safety concerns surrounding their use.
Those caught flouting the rules can be fined up to $2,000 and/or jailed for up to three months if convicted.
From now until the end of the year, the authorities will mainly issue warnings to errant riders, but a zero-tolerance approach will be taken from next year.
The ban means that e-scooters will be confined to 440km of cycling paths islandwide, instead of the 5,500km of footpaths riders could use before.
Bicycles and personal mobility aids such as motorised wheelchairs will continue to be allowed on footpaths, cycling paths and park connectors.
But the ban will progressively be extended to other motorised personal mobility devices (PMDs) in the first quarter of next year, including hoverboards and unicycles.
Announcing the tougher stance, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said in Parliament on Monday: "Over the last two years, we put in great efforts to promote the safe use of motorised personal mobility devices.
"Despite significant efforts, we continue to encounter errant riders who use non-compliant devices and ride dangerously."
Dr Lam made the announcement in a statement responding to questions from five MPs, including Mr Sitoh Yih Pin (Potong Pasir), who asked about the Transport Ministry's plans to improve safety levels around the use of PMDs.
Devices classified as PMDs include e-scooters, hoverboards and unicycles. But e-scooters have been the main subject of scrutiny amid safety concerns around their usage.
There are 100,000 registered e-scooters in Singapore.
In September, a 65-year-old cyclist, Madam Ong Bee Eng, died in hospital after she was seriously injured in an e-scooter accident in Bedok.
A 20-year-old man was arrested after the accident, and police said they are investigating the case as one of causing death by a rash act.
Dr Lam said in Parliament that the number of accidents involving motorised e-scooters continue to rise, adding that several riders have also died.
He noted that calls for a total ban on PMD usage have been getting louder as more accidents occur.
The authorities catch about 370 offenders per month for offences involving active mobility devices such as e-scooters and power-assisted bicycles.
"We expected the co-sharing of footpaths to be challenging but we were hopeful that with public education, PMD users would be gracious and responsible," said Dr Lam.
"Unfortunately, this was not so."
In the past year, MPs and members of the public have repeatedly raised concerns about the reckless and irresponsible behaviour of some e-scooter riders. Some have asked for e-scooters to be banned from footpaths.
Currently, PMDs can be used only on shared paths (at up to 25kmh) and footpaths (10kmh). They are not allowed on roads.
The number of accidents involving PMDs has gone up with the increase in users. There were 228 reported accidents involving PMDs on public paths in 2017 and last year, with 196 resulting in injuries.
Dr Lam noted that the move was not a complete ban on e-scooters.
He said bicycles and personal mobility aids will continued to be allowed on footpaths, cycling paths and park connectors.
Cycling path projects are nearing completion in major towns such as Ang Mo Kio, Bishan and Tampines, and the total length of the 440km network is expected to be tripled by 2030.
Countries such as Germany and France also banned e-scooters from footpaths this year.
The devices are allowed on the roads in these countries but French authorities have also banned them from highways and rural roads.
Dr Lam also told Parliament that plans to issue PMD-sharing licences will be scrapped. About a dozen firms had earlier submitted their applications.
An incentive scheme to encourage e-scooter users to dispose of devices that do not meet safety standards will be extended by a month till Dec 31 this year.
Under the scheme, which was announced in September, owners of registered e-scooters that do not have the UL2272 certification can receive a $100 incentive if they agree to dispose of their devices early.
This can be done at over 200 disposal points set up islandwide.
Responding to Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) - one of eight MPs who asked for further details of the plans including enforcement efforts - Dr Lam said that the number of enforcement officers will be increased.
Efforts will also be made to engage grassroots organisations to form more active mobility patrol teams.
This is on top of the LTA's previous decision to beef up its enforcement team to 200 people by the end of this year.
On the impact of the announcement on food delivery companies, Dr Lam said there are about 7,000 food delivery riders using e-scooters employed by the three major food delivery companies in Singapore - Grabfood, Foodpanda and Deliveroo.
Less than 30 per cent of Foodpanda's and Deliveroo's riders use e-scooters, he said.
He said that the LTA will work with the companies to help their delivery riders switch to motorcycles or bicycles.
The Government is studying recommendations made by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel in September. Among other measures, the panel is pushing for businesses to procure mandatory third-party liability insurance to cover staff who use e-scooters for work.
The panel also called for PMD riders to be at least 16 years old before they can ride on public paths unsupervised.