Bikes may be allowed on footpaths by year end

Bikes may be allowed on footpaths by year end
PHOTO: The Straits Times

IT COULD be legal to ride a bicycle or electric scooter on footpaths by the end of this year, after the Government fully accepted an expert panel's recommendations to boost the use of such devices here.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo said Singapore has to make a "quantum leap" in improving first- and last-mile connectivity for commuters, and close the gap with cycling cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

The new rules and guidelines released by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel last month will "significantly improve" the mobility options for everyone, she said in Parliament yesterday during the debate on her ministry's budget.

Besides recommending that personal mobility devices (PMDs) be allowed on the pavements, the panel also prescribed speed limits on foot and cycling paths, and registration for power-assisted bicycles (PABs) to curb the illegal modification of these devices.

PABs, or e-bikes, will also not be allowed on pavements, only on cycling or shared paths, because they pose a higher safety risk.

Mrs Teo said most of the panel's recommendations would be implemented by the end of this year.

"Overall, the recommendations are fair and balanced, with sensible rules and guidelines to ensure the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and users of PMDs alike," she said.

Mrs Teo also announced measures such as a Land Transport Authority (LTA) enforcement team, to address safety concerns and ensure PMD users follow the rules.

Several MPs had asked yesterday if enough was being done to safeguard the vulnerable on footpaths.

MP Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC) said pedestrians "should not be put at additional risk for the convenience of cyclists and users of PMDs".

MPs Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC), Ang Wei Neng (Jurong GRC) and non-constituency MP Dennis Tan all asked how proposed rules such as the speed limits of 15kmh and 25kmh on footpaths and cycling paths would be enforced.

Mrs Teo said the LTA will set up an enforcement team to work with the Traffic Police and National Parks Board to ensure reckless cyclists and PMD users are dealt with. There will also be stiffer fines for those who flout the rules.

"For a start, we will focus on hot spots such as crowded bus stops, and use speed guns to help us identify those that are speeding excessively," she added.

As for the registration of e-bikes, her ministry is still working out the details, and hopes to release more details by the end of the year, she said.

There will be a grace period for e-bike owners to register their devices while the laws will be amended to stop the sale of non-compliant e-bikes.

Mrs Teo added that a nationwide Active Mobility campaign will be launched this month to raise awareness on the new policies.

This will be complemented with a new Cyclist Education Programme - to be rolled out in schools, community centres and foreign-worker dormitories from next month.

A network of volunteer "wardens" will also be set up. They will carry out patrols to encourage considerate behaviour.

MP Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) asked if short-term bike-rental programmes could be rolled out in private estates to improve connectivity to MRT stations.

Mrs Teo replied that one would be piloted in the Jurong Lake District next year, and the Government would study how it can be expanded to other residential areas.

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