Singapore has always been known to enforce strict rules on various issues like selling chewing gum, feeding pigeons, and walking around your house naked.
The latest addition to the rules is the ban of e-scooters on the 5,500km of footpaths in Singapore, which was implemented on November 5. The ban is set to cover other types of motorised personal mobility devices (PMD), such as hoverboards and unicycles by the first quarter of next year, Channel News Asia reported.
This means that the use of e-scooters, which are already banned on roads, will be confined to 440km of cycling paths. Those caught can be fined up to $2,000 and/or jailed for up to three months.
The ban follows an increase in the number of accidents and riders caught using rides that do not comply with government regulations.
“We catch an average of about 350 offenders per month. The number of accidents involving motorised PMDs continues to rise,” said Lam Pin Min, Singapore’s senior minister of state for transport.
On the first day of implementation, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) reprimanded and warned over 100 riders of other personal mobility devices (PMDs) for riding on footpaths. According to authorities, it will issue warnings to riders only until December 31, but will take “strict enforcement action” against serious cases.
"We are issuing warnings at this stage to give users some time to adjust to the new rule. Come next year, we will take a zero-tolerance approach and offenders will be liable for a fine up to $2,000 and/or jail up to three months," an LTA representative said.
According to The Straits Times, this has negatively affected the number of food delivery riders, even as some continue to use the devices to make deliveries.
GrabFood rider Adrin Lim, 27, told the publication: "I usually see many other food delivery riders on e-scooters [around noon] but I haven't seen anyone doing that in the last hour."
Despite being threatened by fines and possible jail time, riders who were still using their e-scooters on footpaths said they will continue to do so for as long as they can, hoping for a change of stance from the government.
"I will fight any punishment because the shared path network is not so developed in Singapore,” Lim said on whether or not he would back down. “I hope the Government will know our feelings. For some people like me, we are doing this as our full-time job, so this ban makes it very hard for us to do our job.”.
Petitions have also circulated online. On Change.org, one entitled "Petition on behalf of all PMD users in Singapore: Allow PMD on Footpaths or Roads" collected nearly 12,000 signatures.
The petition's founders argued that aside from the ban affecting the livelihood of food delivery riders, it also meant a loss of transport for parents who take their children to school on the devices, among other things.
Aside from it being their livelihood, for some subcultures in Singapore, it’s personally their choice of vehicle.
Some riders attempted to hack the new ban by riding on grass patches alongside footpaths. But the National Parks Board said on Tuesday that PMD users should not ride on the green verges beside footpaths without permission. If convicted of doing so, offenders can be fined up to $5,000.
On Wednesday, around 50 electric scooter riders gathered at a Meet-the-People session (MPS) in Ang Mo Kio hoping to meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to voice their frustration over the recently announced ban.
Speaking to CNA, Dana, a delivery rider present at the gathering, expressed her disappointment and inability to work because of the regulation.
"A lot of the (people) here ... they have children to pay for, instalments to pay for, they have a house to pay for. Some of them don't even have a house, they have to rent. So, you suddenly tell us one day, the next day we cannot work...How are we going to pay all the expenses?," said delivery rider Dana.
Kelly Lee, another delivery rider, also said she hoped the Government could help the riders, or "at least provide us some alternatives, like giving food delivery riders wearing uniforms who use compliant e-scooters a licence to ride on footpaths."