Errant users of PMDs will face more severe punishment, with bigger fines and longer jail terms for several offences.
Tougher penalties for errant PMD users A wider footpath ban, minimum age, theory test to also take effect PHOTO: ST FILE

Errant users of electric scooters, electric bicycles and other active mobility devices will face more severe punishment, with bigger fines and longer jail terms for several offences.

Apart from e-scooters, all other motorised Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs) will also be banned from footpaths from April, under changes to the Active Mobility Act passed in Parliament on 4 February 2020. In another change, those under 16 will no longer be able to ride e-scooters on public paths without supervision by the end of this year.

In addition, e-scooter and e-bike users will have to pass an online theory test some time in the first half of next year. New users of the devices will also have to take the test. Active mobility devices include e-scooters, bicycles, power-assisted bicycles and hoverboards.

The Shared Mobility Enterprises (Control and Licensing) Bill, which gives the Government more oversight of mobility device sharing operators, was also passed on 4 January 2020.

Eleven Members of Parliment (MP) spoke during the debate on both Bills, which lasted about three hours. They raised issues such as whether individual users should get third-party liability insurance, and if food delivery companies should revise their incentive structures. The MPs also suggested improvements to Singapore's transport infrastructure.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said both Bills will allow the Government to effectively regulate individual device users, retailers, businesses and device-sharing operators. He told the House that footpath accidents involving PMDs have dropped by 52% since e-scooters were banned from footpaths on 5 November 2019 last year.

He also said the number of e-scooters in Singapore that do not have a fire safety certification has dropped by about 32% since last November to 54,000 currently.

Dr. Janil said Singapore's regulatory framework has to continue to adapt to the evolving active mobility landscape. The changes, he added, will increase awareness of rules, tackle distracted riding among users and ensure that only compliant devices are used on public paths.

He noted that there were about 4,900 offences involving active mobility devices last year, a number that was "Not acceptable." Dr. Janil said, "To send a stronger deterrent message to this group, we will increase the maximum penalties for certain offences."

For instance, the maximum penalty for a first-time offender caught speeding on public paths will be doubled. Fines will be raised to $2,000 and the jail term to six months. Dr. Janil also said there were 28 cases of errant retailers last year.

The new shared mobility enterprises law will clamp down on them in three ways. First, the Land Transport Authority will have the power to enforce against all forms of modifications on active mobility devices. This closes a loophole where retailers modify devices but claim that they are doing it for their own devices or helping a friend to do it at no charge.

Second, retailers will have to send e-scooters for inspection to ensure compliance with regulations. Lastly, errant retailers who sell non-compliant devices will face significantly tougher penalties.

Dr. Janil also told the House that certain businesses like food delivery companies, which use active mobility devices on paths, will be required to ensure their riders are covered by third-party liability insurance. The Transport Ministry is looking into how to extend such requirements to individual device riders, he added.

Meanwhile, the shared mobility enterprises law will expand the scope of the current device-licensing scheme beyond controlling indiscriminate parking, to focus on public safety, Dr. Janil said.

It will also prevent a repeat of a previous situation where shared e-scooters ended up being used on public paths even though the operators did not have a licence from the Land Transport Authority.

For example, Grab, which operated the GrabWheels e-scooter sharing service, was previously able to deploy e-scooters in a few areas around Singapore under arrangements with private property owners such as shops.

In addition, the new law introduces a class licence regime that will let operators whose businesses pose fewer safety or parking concerns operate under fewer rules.