A 'wheel' fun tour of Marina Bay waterfront

SINGAPORE - Visitors to the Marina Bay waterfront promenade will soon be able to zip around on motorised two-wheelers while taking in the city's skyline.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will be introducing guided tours in which guides and participants move around on personal mobile transporters along a 3.5km stretch of the promenade that covers areas such as Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Barrage.

It has recently put out a tender calling for proposals to operate such tours in the heart of the city.

"We are looking to tell the Marina Bay story in more fun and engaging ways and to make it more attractive for people to visit and spend time at the waterfront promenade," said a URA spokesman.

The URA did not specify what type of personal mobile transporters it is looking at. Models currently available here include the Segway and the EcoRider.

The pilot tours are expected to start in the second quarter of the year if there is a successful bid and will run for the next one to 11/2 years before being reviewed.

Such tours are common and popular in other cities such as Paris, Rome and Chicago as they let visitors do more sightseeing with less effort. There are no such tours in Singapore yet, though Gogreen Holdings offers Segway rides in Sentosa.

Distributors of personal mobile transporters said they are keen to submit proposals for the tours.

"We see the potential of this as it is very popular in major cities abroad," said a spokesman for Gogreen Holdings, the sole distributor of Segways here since 2010.

The company intends to start its own 21/2-hour guided tours on Sentosa later this month. Sentosa guides will provide running commentary while users explore beach areas on Segways, which can travel up to 20kmh.

Ms Candice Chong, marketing manager of Emarco Enterprise, which brought in the EcoRider in 2012, said individuals and firms are warming up to the use of such devices. Security guards in Jurong Point shopping mall and Suntec City use them to do patrols, while some residents use them to run errands in the neighbourhood.

Emarco intends to partner tour agencies to offer the tours if it is successful in its bid. This is because the tours have to be conducted by guides licensed by the Singapore Tourism Board.

Ms Alicia Seah, marketing communications director of Dynasty Travel, said the firm is open to getting its guides to conduct tours on these two-wheelers.

But it can be challenging, she added. Staff from the travel agency tried out a Segway tour at a park in Hokkaido last year when the firm was exploring new itineraries to offer its customers.

"We found that it is not easy to manoeuvre and they made us go in small groups of twos or threes to avoid bumping into each other," said Ms Seah. "It can also be dangerous to conduct talking tours while the young or elderly are on the devices."

URA is putting in place some safety rules as the route for the proposed tours along the upper promenade is well used by other pedestrians. It said it has taken into consideration the width of the promenade, the hours when it is less crowded and the lower visibility at night.


Safety first on the tour

Safety guidelines for tours on personal mobile transporters in the Marina Bay waterfront promenade:

Speed of the mobile transporters must be capped at 10kmh

The size of each mobile transporter cannot exceed 0.8m in length and 0.8m in width

The guides and participants must move in single file at all times along the upper promenade to minimise chances of collision

No more than 20 mobile transporters to be deployed in the area at any one point in time

The guide-to-participant ratio should be one guide to up to four participants

No tours to be conducted after 7pm

All participants need to undergo training and be assessed by the guide to be competent in controlling the transporters before embarking on the tours

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