Saturday, 19 March 2016

Allow bicycles, personal mobility devices on footpaths: Active Mobility Advisory Panel

Allow mobility devices, bikes on footpaths: Panel
The Straits Times, 18 Mar 2016

Cyclists and pedestrians could soon be sharing the same space, as an advisory panel has proposed that bicycles and personal mobility devices be allowed on footpaths.

However, electric bicycles should keep to roads and cycling paths, owing to their speed.

Bicycles, scooters and other two-wheeled devices are already commonly ridden on pavements, these being safer than vehicular roads, and the proposed changes would permit this practice.

The 14-member panel set out where and what type of mobility devices are allowed, as well as rules such as speed limits and a code of conduct. Pedestrians should always have the right of way, it said.

On electric bicycles, the panel recommended that they be registered, to make it easier to take action against errant riders and illegal modifications.

Last year, 17 cyclists or their pillion riders were killed in accidents while 590 were injured.

The proposed guidelines move the country closer to the Government's vision of a "car-lite" nation, and come amid a recent surge in the number of people cycling and using mobility devices.

Singaporeans from various walks of life have been engaged since July 2015 as part of a public consultation exercise on...
Posted by Land Transport Authority – We Keep Your World Moving on Thursday, March 17, 2016

Electric bikes should be registered: Advisory panel
Recommendation made to tackle problem of errant riders and those who modify bikes illegally
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 18 Mar 2016

Users of motorised bicycles could soon be required to register their bikes, if recommendations made by an expert advisory panel are taken on board by the Government.

The move is designed to aid enforcement against errant riders and those who illegally modify their electric bicycles. It comes at a time when the numbers of electric bike users and accidents involving these devices are on the rise.

The 14-member advisory panel released its recommendations on rules to govern personal mobility devices yesterday.

The panel chairman, former Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, said registration would be an extension of the Land Transport Authority's current approval process under which bikes have to meet weight and power limits that cap their top speed.

"We find this way, the person who buys an e-bike would know that we have their details and this might deter them from illegally modifying (their e-bikes)," said Dr Faishal.

The scheme, if adopted, would rely on retailers to administer at least part of the registration process.

The panel also suggested that the use of all personal mobility devices except e-bikes - devices ranging from e-scooters to hoverboards and motorised wheelchairs - be allowed on footpaths, and cycling and shared paths.

E-bikes are restricted to the roads, and cycling and shared paths.

There will be strict speed limits that apply regardless of device - 15kmh on footpaths and 25kmh on cycling and shared paths.

The panel also specified the physical criteria that any device - except mobility aids such as powered wheelchairs - has to meet to be used in public spaces here.

They must have a maximum speed of 25kmh, and cannot exceed 20kg in weight and 70cm in width. The rules were calibrated to reduce damage in the event of a collision.

Today, the Active Mobility Advisory Panel submitted our recommendations to Ministry of Transport, Singapore and I want...
Posted by Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim on Thursday, March 17, 2016

Dr Faishal said the panel sought to strike a balance between the needs of various users, and added that it is not possible to "maximise everyone's interests and space" in a small island such as Singapore.

He said: "The panel focused on developing a set of rules and a code of conduct which we believe are practical, clear, fair and, most importantly, safeguard the safety of all users."

But observers say the devil is in the details, particularly how these proposed rules would be enforced.

Mr Chris Kuah, owner of A-Tech Bike Supply, said: "If these devices can reach 25kmh but the speed limit is 15kmh, who is going to make sure they keep to the limit?"

He added that, while requiring retailers to register e-bikes might sound good in theory, the paperwork could be complicated.

Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan, who has raised safety concerns over electric bicycles in Parliament, said that the rules need to be backed by enforcement and education.

"If there is no effective, islandwide enforcement, these well-intended measures will never be adopted by many cyclists and accidents on footpaths will likely increase," said Mr Tan.

Code of conduct puts pedestrians' safety first
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 18 Mar 2016

Always give way to pedestrians; slow down and be prepared to stop when approaching bus stops or where there is a lot of people; and keep left unless overtaking.

The 21-point code of conduct for cyclists and users of personal mobility devices (PMDs) proposed by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel puts the safety of pedestrians front and centre, even as it recommended that these modes of transport be allowed on footpaths.

The panel said the code is a list of good etiquette or best practices that includes stopping to give assistance and exchange particulars after an accident, and dismounting in areas with many pedestrians.

It accompanies hard rules that include speed limits - 15kmh on footpaths and 25kmh on cycling and shared paths - and having front and rear lights when riding in the dark. The rules govern riders and PMD users of all ages.

The panel also suggested that cycling two abreast be allowed only on roads with two lanes or more in a single direction, except those with bus lanes during bus lane hours.

The recommendations were submitted to the Transport Ministry yesterday, and are being studied.

Land Transport Authority chief executive Chew Men Leong said the new rules and code of conduct would help make cycling education efforts consistent. "Previously, we were not totally certain of the rules and code of conduct that would apply. This will form a baseline with which we can go out with our education effort and programmes."

Cyclists welcomed the recommendations and said these would make riding much safer.

Panel member Francis Chu, co-founder of Love Cycling SG, said many in the community were relieved as cycling on the footpath is now illegal in all towns except Tampines. But many cyclists still choose that over riding on the road as it is the safer option, he added.

"No one feels good breaking the law but, with the rules and code of conduct, they can be more assured and confident," he said.

But motorists and pedestrians may need more convincing. "There is no way to make sure cyclists abide by (speed limits)... What will happen to the old folk and children using the path? Who will be responsible if accidents occur?" asked housewife Wong Yoke Ching, 50.

Motorist Tomas Chew, 53, was concerned that the proposed rules might make danger spots like traffic junctions even harder to navigate. Mr Chew, a chef, said he regularly encounters cyclists who zip across pedestrian crossings without waiting, taking him by surprise.

"There are so many people on the roads now, so much traffic and so many types of traffic," he said.

Others asked if the code of conduct should be hardened into enforceable rules - such as requiring cyclists to stop in an accident.

Traffic Police Commander Sam Tee said the present recommendations were a "good start". "We don't want a society that is so constricted by rules and regulations," he said.

Game developer Kenny Chan, 33, who commutes to work by bicycle, said all users will need to learn to share the available space.

"I think we (cyclists) should not intimidate pedestrians to give way, but when we get to crowded places such as bus stops, it is also only polite to dismount and push," he said.

Additional reporting by Rachel Chia


• Ride in an orderly manner with regard for the safety of others.

Rules for on-road cycling

• Bicycles should be ridden as close as practicable to the left side of the road.

• Use hand signals to alert road users of your intentions.


• Stop to give assistance and exchange particulars when involved in an accident.

On the footpaths, cycling and shared paths

• Always give way to pedestrians. They have the right of way on pedestrian crossings.

• "Walk your bicycle" or dismount and push in areas with high pedestrian traffic.

• Stop and look out for traffic when approaching pedestrian crossings - cross only at walking speeds.

• Keep left unless overtaking.

On the roads

• Do not weave through traffic.

• Do not hold on to the back or side of vehicles.

Sharing footpaths safely a shared civic responsibility
By Royston Sim, Assistant News Editor, The Straits Times, 18 Mar 2016

The active mobility advisory panel's recommendation to allow bicycles and most mobility devices on footpaths is a bold move.

It is also timely, given the growing popularity of cycling here and the proliferation of personal mobility devices.

Although riding on footpaths is illegal everywhere apart from Tampines town, many cyclists do so anyway because they do not want to risk their lives by going on the roads. Similarly, there are currently no guidelines governing the use of electric scooters and other two-wheeled devices.

Allowing personal mobility devices to share the space with pedestrians and making them accountable through clear rules and guidelines is a step in the right direction.

The panel said its recommendations reflect three key principles: prioritising the safety of more vulnerable users, ensuring that the rules are simple and easy to understand, and balancing the needs of different users in the best possible way.

The 30-page proposal may raise concerns among some pedestrians, who fear being run down by bicycles or other devices.

However, the panel has sought to make the sharing of public spaces safer by stating that pedestrians should always have the right of way, setting criteria for personal mobility devices as well as suggesting speed limits.

In land-scarce Singapore, it is not possible to have a dedicated space for different users, said MP Cedric Foo, who believes that setting basic guidelines will allow the sharing of space between cyclists and pedestrians to evolve in an orderly manner.

"You are going to see the need for a lot more give and take," he said. "It will require a lot more education, and it will be a slow process."

The panel has also recommended stepping up public education and beefing up enforcement against reckless behaviour.

Errant cyclists and users should be taken to task, so as to deter would-be offenders.

Yet counting on enforcement alone is insufficient, as it would be near impossible to catch every rule-breaker.

Ultimately, pedestrians, cyclists and other users will have to exercise basic civility to share public space peacefully.

"If we can build up a culture of graciousness and safety, we will be able to better take care of everyone's needs," said panel chair, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Family and Social Development.

The panel's proposal is also a decisive step in moving towards the long-term goal of a car-lite Singapore.

Panel member Francis Chu, who founded cycling group LoveCyclingSg, believes the changes will encourage more people to use their bicycles.

Still, cycling on footpaths cannot be a replacement for proper cycling paths, said transport researcher Alexander Erath from the Singapore-ETH Centre.

Riding on the sidewalks may be a better option than going on the road, but it also means cyclists will have to cycle more slowly with plenty of braking, he said.

While the National Cycling Plan already calls for 700km of cycling paths to be built by 2030 - about 350km has been built to date - he said the network should be further expanded in future.

Experts blame the rise in accidents on an increase in the number of cyclists and a lack of infrastructure and education to guide them.
Posted by The Straits Times on Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Motorised bicycles near miss along traffic junction of Sims Ave road on 15 March 2016. Two motorised bicycles riding...
Posted by Singapore Reckless Drivers on Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Expert panel's bold plan powers cyclists into the future
Proposed guidelines on personal mobility devices could benefit S'pore, but biggest change must take place in people's mindsets
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 24 Mar 2016

Is a recent call to allow cyclists on pedestrian footpaths a bold suggestion, or a reckless one?

The idea, proposed by an expert panel last week after eight months of consultation on how personal mobility devices (PMD) should be governed, has received praise and scorn in equal measure. And it does not take much guesswork to figure out where the divide lies.

Cyclists hailed the move to legitimise their use of two-wheelers on footpaths, where they can travel without risking life and limb on roads. The panel, however, did propose speed limits - 15kmh on footpaths and 25kmh on cycling and shared paths - and having users turn on their front and rear lights when riding in the dark.

Pedestrians were shocked, warning that this would put bicycles in the midst of children and the elderly.

A Straits Times reader, Ms Agnes Sng, wrote in to describe how a "Punchlines" cartoon last week "captured perfectly the peculiar situation" that pedestrians could soon find themselves facing.

It depicted two pedestrians walking in drains as cyclists zoomed by on pavements.


The panel's series of recommendations, which also include registering power-assisted bicycles, have been submitted to the Transport Ministry and are currently being deliberated.

The widely anticipated rules and guidelines are meant to address the burgeoning popularity of bicycles and PMDs - such as motorised scooters and unicycles - and give clarity on where they can and cannot be used.

But would it be all chaos and bedlam if bicycles are allowed on the footpaths?

Likely not.

Six years ago this month, it became legal to cycle on the footpaths of Tampines, Singapore's first cycling town. It remains the only place exempt from the road traffic rules banning cyclists from the sidewalks.

As a Tampines resident, I am happy to report that anarchy has not broken out.

Former Tampines MP Irene Ng, who was an MP from 2001 until last year, said that education and enforcement were key reasons for the project's success.

Her team came up with a code of conduct for cyclists and recruited volunteer cycling wardens to spread the message.

Said Ms Ng: "I told the wardens that their role is really to help build a safe cycling culture. They started in 2005. So it has taken 10 years to build a safe cycling culture."

Driving the point home, she said: "It takes time to shape people's perceptions and behaviour. The work never ends, with each generation of new cyclists."

In a 2014 speech to Parliament, Ms Ng also spoke of how government agencies dithered over who should take the lead in enforcement.

"As timely enforcement is necessary for safe sharing, our town council decided to just hire auxiliary police officers to do the job, although strictly speaking, the paths and the laws concerned do not fall under the town council remit," she said then.

The panel last week also proposed a Code of Conduct for cyclists and users of PMDs: give way to pedestrians; slow down and be prepared to stop when approaching bus stops or where there are many people; and keep left unless overtaking.


The emphasis on timely enforcement is sensible. Other cycling nations understand this keenly. In Japan, cycling is allowed on specifically marked footways and those over 3m wide. The police issue tickets to cyclists above the age of 14 who commit offences such as speeding on sidewalks, running red lights or riding recklessly.

Those who receive two or more tickets within three years are required to attend a three-hour safety education programme. They risk being fined if they do not do so.

So enforcement - on errant users - must be visible and comprehensive, at least at the start, to assure pedestrians that their space and well-being are not being compromised.

A nasty accident would be a major setback to the initiative.

All effort should also be taken to reduce the risk of conflicts. This means ramping up efforts to build infrastructure such as wider shared paths, and segregated lanes for pedestrians and cyclists - the gold standard in safe infrastructure.

Under the National Cycling Plan, the off-road network will span 700km by 2030. About half has been built. If Singapore wants to become car-light and promote cycling and the use of PMDs, can this be speeded up?

In towns with developed cycling networks such as Tampines and Pasir Ris, many more people cycle as their mode of transport, compared with the national average of between 1 per cent and 2 per cent, according to officials.

But given space constraints in a land-starved country, the reality is that everyone still has to learn to share the use of roads and pavements.

This can be done, if there is proper enforcement, education and infrastructure in place.

As it is, most cyclists and PMD users already ride on pavements rather than roads - without great incident. Making this legal simply recognises the facts on the ground. Introducing rules that can be enforced, a code of conduct to abide by and an education programme for cyclists, means the Government can help facilitate space sharing between road and pavement users.


But more can be done to better protect pedestrians.

In the Netherlands and many other countries in Europe, there are strict liability laws that protect vulnerable road users (such as cyclists and pedestrians) from large motorised vehicles (like cars or trucks). In an accident, the law assumes the motorist is at fault unless it can be proven otherwise.

Proponents say the law improves safety by encouraging safer driving behaviour. Singapore may not be ready to go the whole hog on presumed liability, but we could adapt this system to cater to pedestrians.

Cyclists and PMD users could be held liable for civil claims in the event of an accident with pedestrians.

There are arguments that say this might foster reckless behaviour, but Mr Francis Chu, co-founder of Love Cycling SG, feels otherwise.

"Nobody in their right minds would put themselves at personal risk... At the end of the day, every driver or cyclist is also a pedestrian," he said.


Some have suggested that bicycles be registered, so errant riders can be tracked down.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has said this won't work, as such a database would be too onerous to implement and police - given the varied profile of riders and the rate at which bicycles can change hands.

The Government stopped registering bicycles in 1981, and we should not look back.

It is easy to see the LTA's logic that resources spent on such a system would be better placed in education and infrastructure.

The panel's bold proposals will be debated in Parliament soon. If accepted, they will put Singapore firmly on the path of the bicycle. In future, the two-wheeler will no longer be the domain of the lycra-clad speedster. It could potentially become the workhorse of the everyman.

The benefits are obvious - less traffic congestion and better public health - and in our dense urban environment, it makes good sense.

To make sure such a transition is safe, new laws and infrastructure will help Singapore get there.

But the biggest change that needs to take place is in people's mindsets and behaviour. As they learnt to do in school, in the playground and in their shared living space, Singaporeans will have to do the same thing on the roads and pavements.

To share.

* Parliament: Bicycles and mobility devices to be allowed on footpaths possibly by end 2016

By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 12 Apr 2016

It could be legal to ride your bicycle or electric scooter on the pavements as early as the end of this year, after the Government fully accepted an expert panel's recommendations to boost active mobility here.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (April 12) during the Transport Ministry's Budget debate, Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo said this was part of efforts to enhance accessibility for commuters. In the bigger picture, it is also a key strategy in Singapore's push to reduce its reliance on cars.

The Active Mobility Advisory Panel released last month a set of rules and guidelines to govern the use of personal mobility devices here.

Besides recommending that bicycles and other personal mobility devices be allowed on the pavements, it also recommended that power assisted bicycles be registered to clamp down on the illegal modification of these devices, and for enforcement and education efforts to be beefed up to foster a culture of sharing among all users of footpaths.

Mrs Teo said the Government would be accepting the panel's recommendations "in full", and most of the changes 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, pointing out that the new rules will significantly improve mobility options for everyone.

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

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

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will also set up a dedicated enforcement team to ensure reckless cyclists and users of PMDs are dealt with, she said. Penalties and fines will also be increased.

The safety of pedestrians was a concern raised by several MPs, including MP Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC ).

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

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

Active Mobility Advisory Panel recommends rules and code of conduct for safe sharing of paths
Recommendations on Rules and Code of Conduct for Cycling and the Use of Personal Mobility Devices -pdf download

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