Source : LTA Facebook page.

Singapore states PMD ban is same as France and Japan, but fails to mention PMD are allowed on streets for the two countries

The ban of electric scooters on footpaths kicked in today (5 November) in Singapore, and those found guilty of the crime can be fined up to S$2,000 and jail time of up to three months once the ban is strictly enforced from 2020.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said in a statement that despite “significant efforts” to regulate the use of such personal mobility devices (PMDs) using laws and to educate the public in using such devices responsibly, “offences relating to errant behaviour and incidents involving e-scooters remained on an upward trend”.

Although e-scooters are banned from being used on roads in the Republic, but it will still be allowed on cycling paths and Park Connector Networks (PCNs).

Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said in Parliament on Monday (4 November) that the ban follows Japan and France’s move to prohibit the riding of e-scooters on its pavements.

He said that France just banned the use of e-scooters on pavements last week, following the high number of accidents involving such devices, several of which were fatal. Those found guilty of riding their e-scooters on pavements will now be subject to a €135 fine in France.

“Cities have allowed the use of such devices on footpaths as they are non-pollutive, inexpensive and, of properly used, convenient for short intra-town travels. We expected the co-sharing of footpaths to be challenging but were hopeful that with public education, PMD users would be gracious and responsible. Unfortunately, this was not so,” Dr Lam said.

As such, he noted that it was a “difficult decision” to prohibit e-scooters from being used on footpaths. “But it is a necessary step for pedestrians to feel safe again on public paths, while still allowing e-scooters to grow in tandem with cycling path infrastructure,” he added.

Ban in France and Japan

In September 2019, France banned the use of e-scooters on pavements, after an increasing number of e-scooters in the country caused tensions with residents.

After the device was introduced in the French capital last year, about 15,000 scooters were seen in the city and the number is expected to increase to 40,000 by the end of 2019.

France’s Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne said to Le Parisien daily that those who found to be riding an e-scooter, monowheel, personal transporter or hoverboard on the pavement will be imposed a fine of €135.

She added that the riders will now have to use the street or dedicated cycling paths, so that “pedestrians are no longer squeezed against walls”.

However, riders are still permitted to push their devices on the pavement, as long as the engine is turned off.

As for Japan, e-scooters are viewed as motorised bicycles under the traffic law in the country, based on a 2002 notice from the Japanese National Police Agency. This means that the devices have to come with license plates and side mirrors, and a driver’s license is required to operate. Without these, electric scooters are considered illegal unless it’s used on privately owned land.

On top of that, they must also be ridden on the road alongside cars and other vehicles. This applies to other types of transportations with a battery, like other micromobility options such as unicycles.

Singapore’s restrictions on PMDs more severe than Japan and France

Therefore, though countries such as Japan and France banned PMDs from being used on pavements, they are allowed to be used on roads.

However, under the Road Traffic Act, it is illegal for PMDs – such as e-scooters and hoverboards – to be used on Singapore roads from 15 Jan 2018, with first-time offenders subject to a fine of up to $2,000, a jail term of up to three months, or both.
 
This, however, was not mentioned by Dr Lam in his speech as he made references to the practice of other cities.  While Dr Lam stressed that it is not a complete ban of PMDs as they can be still be ridden on cycling path and the park connectors, but what is the difference in light of the restrictions imposed upon the PMDs?