E-scooter ban is about footpath safety: Lam Pin Min

E-scooter riders meeting Dr Lam Pin Min at the Anchorvale Community Club.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

It was the biggest turnout at a meet-the-people session (MPS) since e-scooters were banned from all footpaths last Tuesday, and the riders who gathered at the Anchorvale Community Club's multi-purpose hall last night hoped Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min, MP for Sengkang West, would allay some of their concerns.

But after a closed-door dialogue session lasting more than an hour, the group of about 300 riders left disappointed.

Rider Jayrius Ong, 16, told The New Paper: "I can represent all the riders (and say) that we feel very emotional, rejected, angry and sad."

Over the past week, e-scooter riders have been showing up at MPSes across the island, meeting with MPs including Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean.

Emotions ran high on Monday night at a meeting with Jurong GRC MP Ang Wei Neng and at yesterday's session.

Dr Lam defended the ban last night, emphasising the need to make footpaths safe again.

He said: "We understand that with the announcement of the ban, there will be people who will be affected. But our main priority is to return safety to pedestrians on footpaths. I think that is the main reason we are doing this."

"We don't want a situation where we do not do anything and (this results) in another fatality on a footpath. I think this is something that is not acceptable," he added.

Read Also
$7m grant to help food delivery riders affected by footpath ban replace their e-scooters with other devices
$7m grant to help food delivery riders affected by footpath ban replace their e-scooters with other devices

Six months ago, Parliament was told that banning personal mobility devices from footpaths would not be a solution. So the ban on e-scooter use from footpaths came like a bolt from the blue, kicking in a day after last Monday's announcement.

Speaking after the dialogue session, Dr Lam said the Government had not flip-flopped on the issue. He told reporters: "We understand... even with the announcement of the (transition) assistance package, not everyone will be happy.

"For those peculiar cases where the assistance package may not be of significant relief, I think we have to look at it individually to see how else we can assist them."

Announced last Friday, the assistance package includes a $7 million trade-in grant - funded 50-50 by the Government and the three major food delivery firms GrabFood, Deliveroo and Foodpanda - to help delivery riders switch to bicycles, e-bikes, and personal mobility aids such as mobility scooters and motorised wheelchairs.

Read Also
E-scooters to be banned from Singapore footpaths from Nov 5
E-scooters to be banned from Singapore footpaths from Nov 5

Grab, which employs a majority of the 7,000 food delivery e-scooter riders here, yesterday gave more details on how the trade-in will work, holding update sessions at its Midview City office.

Dr Lam again assured the public that the authorities are ramping up infrastructure enhancements. The 440km of cycling lanes and park connectors that e-scooter riders are now restricted to will be expanded to 750km by 2025 and 1,300km by 2030.

At the dialogue, Dr Lam spoke for about 10 minutes before taking questions. He talked about the abuse he and Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, who chairs the Active Mobility Advisory Panel, suffered online.

Speaking to The New Paper after the session, People's Power Party secretary-general Goh Meng Seng said the $7 million trade-in grant was a knee-jerk reaction.

"As the Government, it is their job to think of a holistic way to solve the problem, not to ban it," he said.

Full-time GrabFood delivery rider Raymond Tan, 35, who relies on his e-scooter after suffering a bad injury to his right leg, said pushing delivery riders onto e-bikes and onto the roads would be going back to square one.

"We love our jobs. Just give us back the footpaths, that's all."

This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.