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Regulators are Out of Touch with the Ground when it comes to Regulating E-Bikes and E-Scooters

DOUGLAS CHOW: Savvysarus, if I don’t comply, I’ll face a fine of up to $2,000 or a jail term of up to 3 mths or both.

So what is it all about?

A long time ago, before e-scooters were zipping everywhere around us, there were e-bikes. I was so excited by how convenient they were and how they would convince Singaporeans to use public transport more often (It was a lot more reliable back then), that I imported a batch of foldable-ebikes. I cycled to MTI and showed my team what a wonderful product I had chanced upon. I went everywhere with it using public transport to show folks that it could actually be a way of life. I just love cycling in cities and neighbourhoods to explore.

Then all the crazy fellas started to cycle like road hogs; knocking people down on pedestrain pavements. Electric bicycles were modifed to go as fast as motorbikes. The list of abuse and obnoxious behavior goes on and on.

Alarmed, the authorities decided to impose rules on e-bikes which ironically are losing their popularity fast as e-scooters arrived on the scene. For almost 2 years, they debated tighter regulations, unaware that e-scooters had arrived, priced cheaper and were selling like hot cakes.

I’m sure you see a lot more e-scooters than e-bicycles around you these days. And e-scooters are the new menace, making headlines for all the wrong reason. Didn’t one joker get caught recently doing his F1 lap on the PIE? And stories of e-scooters knocking folks down are very common these days..

Yet, instead of taking a more serious look at e-scooters, the regulators focused their sight on a fast dwindling number of e-bicycles.

It’s almost embarrassing to type this for I was once a public officer running a team to champion smarter regulations in Singapore. In my 3 years with MTI, with the support of Head, Civil Service, the team and I fought hard to change rules that were silly, outdated or just plain onerous.

Now I wonder what is happening after I left. Or perhaps if I stayed any longer, I would be the one getting less and less smart.

I still have 2 electric bicycles. You can see one of them at my office. And now I have to put number plates on them just to be able to use them. If not, I face a fine of up to $2,000 or a jail term of up to 3 mths or both. I’ve always been a good cyclist. I don’t even horn my bell. I just slow down and say, “Excuse me, thank you” and overtake a smiling pedestrain.

It’s bad enough that e-bikes are banned from pedestrain pavement because of the black sheeps. E-scooters are allowed. No number plates are required on them. All is good for E-scooters for now.

The regulators whoever they are, clearly are out of touch with the ground when it comes to regulating e-bikes and e-scooters. For the good of Singapore, I hope it is not a symptom of a bigger “loss of reality” when it comes to bigger ticket decisions.



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