SINGAPORE - Speedsters and reckless riders on bicycles, e-scooters or other personal mobility devices (PMDs) beware.
Starting from Tuesday (May 1), stiff fines and even jail time await those who fail to rein in the speed or observe regulations set out in the Active Mobility Act that has just kicked in.
In a surprise announcement on Tuesday, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it is exercising its powers with immediate effect to regulate the use of bicycles, PMDs and and power-assisted bicycles (PABs).
The powers cover the use of such devices on footpaths, shared cycling paths and roads, as well as their sales, the LTA added.
The new law spells out where the devices may be used and how fast they can go.
For example, PABs are not allowed on footpaths while e-scooters cannot go on public roads. The speed limits are 15kmh on footpaths and 25kmh on park connectors and shared paths.
First-time offenders who flout the usage rules and speed limits may be fined up to $1,000 or jailed up to three months, or both. Repeat offenders may have their fine and jail term doubled.
The new law also sets limits on the size and speed of the devices that can be used on public paths. These cannot weigh more than 20kg each and must have their speeds capped at 25kmh. Those who use devices that flout these rules can be fined up to $5,000 and jailed up to three months, or both.
In the case of hit-and-run accidents, those who do not stop to help accident victims face a maximum fine of $3,000 or a jail term of up to one year, or both. Those who refuse to give their particulars or lie to LTA enforcement officers face a higher maximum fine of $5,000, in addition to the maximum one-year jail term.
Besides users, the new law also targets vendors of non-compliant devices. Those caught selling them may be fined up to $5,000 and jailed up to three months, or both.
The LTA said that it has been holding safe riding clinics for users and dialogues with retailers to prepare the public and industry for the new law.
The Active Mobility Act was passed by Parliament in January last year. At that time, the Senior Minister of State for Transport, Mrs Josephine Teo, said the new law was introduced to safeguard the safety of pedestrians even as active mobility was encouraged to support a car-lite Singapore.
"There is not a shadow of doubt that pedestrian safety is paramount," she had said.
After the Act was passed, the Government kept mum on when it would take effect. Early last month, a government panel formed in 2015 to develop a set of rules governing the use of footpaths and cycling paths was still gathering public feedback. The feedback looked at how cyclists and PMD users should behave when travelling on footpaths and in crowded areas, including whether they should ride more slowly than the recommended top speed of 15kmh that has now become law.
The LTA's surprise announcement on Tuesday came on the back of the rising problem of reckless riders as PMDs become more popular.
On average, there are about three accidents a week involving users of mobility devices. There were 110 accidents between January and September last year, with about 30 of them occurring on public paths between pedestrians and a mobility device. The rest took place at road junctions and on roads when users flout traffic rules.
Besides having to observe the rules set out under the new law, those who own PMDs will have to register their devices from the second half of this year. The exact date when registration starts has not been announced.