A new training programme to help food delivery riders switch from e-scooters to e-bicycles has been launched with funding already secured for about 2,000.
New training scheme to help delivery riders switch to e-bikes A new training programme to help food delivery riders switch from e-scooters to e-bicycles has been launched PHOTO: ST FILE

A new training programme to help food delivery riders switch from e-scooters to e-bicycles has been launched, with funding already secured for about 2,000 of them to be trained.

The programme by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), announced yesterday, covers areas such as code of conduct on roads and first-aid skills.

It is part of the labour movement's efforts to help some of the 7,000 e-scooter food delivery riders struggling with the Government's e-scooter footpath ban, which kicked in on 5 November 2019.

The Delivery Rider Kit programme is developed by NTUC with support from SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), Workforce Singapore (WSG) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

It complements the $7 million scheme co-funded by food delivery companies Grab, Deliveroo and Foodpanda, as well as LTA, that has so far subsidised more than 2,500 food delivery riders to trade in their e-scooters for e-bikes.

Unlike e-scooters, e-bikes, also called power-assisted bicycles, are allowed on roads. However, e-bikes, like e-scooters, are not allowed on footpaths.

The new programme comprises five one-day courses, teaching hard and soft skills that include "how to engage customers in a positive way and win their trust and support", NTUC said.

Up to 90% of the course fees will be subsidised by NTUC, SSG, WSG and LTA, with fees for NTUC union members covered in full.

An NTUC Spokesman said funds for about 2,000 riders have already been secured, although more food delivery riders looking to sign up for the courses will not be turned away.

NTUC and the food delivery companies will seek sources of funding to ensure such riders can benefit from the training at minimal cost. Earlier, NTUC said food delivery riders who are not its members can sign up for membership until 31 December 2019 to enjoy other union initiatives to help riders, such as one-time Kopitiam foodcourt and FairPrice gift cards valued at either $100 or $200.

At $9 a month, membership fees for the first three months will be reimbursed fully, so that those who join need not pay extra money during the transition from e-scooters to e-bikes. Riders who want to apply for the programme should do so through their employers or through NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute.

Ms. Jean See, Acting Director of NTUC's freelancers and self-employed unit, said proper training programmes will help the riders as well as improve public perception of them. "(It can) build the riders' community as one that is professional and responsible, one that can co-exist harmoniously with fellow path-and-road users," she said.

Grab, the biggest player in the food delivery business here, will conduct one of the courses and give out smart helmets to riders who complete it.

The Safe Riding On Pedal And Power-Assisted Bicycles course was designed based on the "wide range of challenges" that food delivery riders face in the course of their work, GrabFood said. Participants who complete the course will receive a free smart helmet developed by local start-up Lumos.

The lightweight helmet has built-in LED lights and turn signal indicators to make the rider more visible on the road. Through a smartphone app - or an optional remote controller - riders can indicate which direction they are turning, alerting other motorists to their intentions. The remote control removes the need to use a smartphone.

Mr. Eu-wen Ding, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of Lumos, would not be drawn on whether the remote control would be made available to riders, but said it cost about $27 retail. The helmet is aimed at protecting riders from "preventable incidents", said Grab Singapore's Head of Transport Andrew Chan.