On their e-scooters and unicycles, the riders travelled alongside cars and motorcycles on the roads in Geylang, openly flouting the law.
One of these personal mobility device (PMD) users even zipped across the four lanes of Geylang Road, speeding ahead of the vehicular traffic as the lights turned green.
Such was the situation observed by The Straits Times at around noon yesterday. Within an hour, six PMD users were seen riding along Geylang Road and Sims Avenue.
From Jan 15, PMD users who take their devices onto the roads will face stiffer penalties, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced on Tuesday in a bid to curb the growing appetite for risk, which resulted in several fatal accidents last year.
From a fine of $100, first-time offenders will now have to pay a $300 penalty for riding on local roads; $500 on major roads; and face a court appearance if found riding on expressways.
While Geylang appeared to be a hot spot for errant PMD users, riders in other parts of Singapore, such as Yishun and Ang Mo Kio, seemed to be more law-abiding.
When ST spent an hour at each of these town centres yesterday afternoon, PMD riders were seen keeping to pavements and cycling paths, with only one e-scooter rider spotted along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8.
The problem of PMD users on roads has raised concerns among road safety experts and Members of Parliament. In a Facebook post yesterday, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim wrote: "The reckless and illegal use of PMDs endangers riders and other road users alike. This is something that I am personally concerned about."
Drivers seeing more PMD users on roads
Prof Faishal, who chairs the Active Mobility Advisory Panel, told ST he has personally stopped and tried to advise errant PMD users.
According to LTA data, an average of 40 errant PMD users were caught on the roads each month last year, up from 34 in 2016.
But his good intentions drew negative reactions. "They didn't seem to appreciate the advice and continued to ride on the road. There were people who also told me off and told me to mind my own business. Actually, when people point you in the right way, it's because they care and want to promote safety."
Last November, a 52-year-old man using a PMD died in an accident with a bus in Kaki Bukit. In the same month, another man was arrested for riding an e-scooter on the Pan-Island Expressway.
According to LTA data, an average of 40 errant PMD users were caught on the roads each month last year, up from 34 in 2016. About 64 per cent were caught on local roads, 35.5 per cent on major roads and 0.5 per cent on expressways.
Members of the public and motorists are also reporting more encounters with PMD riders.
Taxi driver Ng Beng Huat, 65, said his taxi nearly collided with an e-scooter user in Tampines recently. He was about to make a left turn when the rider dashed out from beside him. "If I hadn't jammed on the brakes, there would have been an accident... Drivers have to be careful," Mr Ng said.
Sales assistant David Chew, 50, who lives in Pasir Ris, said he often sees e-scooter users taking to the roads in his neighbourhood in the evenings, especially along Street 11.
The authorities are hoping to cultivate more users such as undergraduate Chan Chan Leong, 28, who has been using an e-scooter for the past four months, and rides only on pavements. "I don't want to die, and it's also illegal to be on the roads," he said.
• Additonal reporting by Cheryl Tee and Gracia Lee