Demand for e-scooters increases after rules on e-bikes kicked in
CHARLES LEE – 10th Oct 2016
E-scooters have been on a rampant rise in recent times, with some shops reportedly selling hundreds of unit every month. In contrast, consumers’ interest in e-bikes has dampened drastically. Retailers put this trend down to the stricter rules that have been imposed on e-bikes since last December.
Mr Jeffrey Tan, the boss of bike shop Foot Loops, told The Straits Times that e-bikes, which made up a third of the sales, are no longer selling well. He added that he now sells about 10 e-scooters every month, up from about three at the same time last year. E-scooter maker Mobot reported a 30 per cent increase in the sale of its e-scooters after the rules against e-bikes kicked in. More than 400 units are being grabbed from its shelves every month.
Amongst the new rules, e-bikes that come without a throttle are prohibited from travelling beyond the speed of 25 kilometres per hour on the road.
E-bikes are generally faster and more expensive than e-scooters. Compared to e-scooters, e-bikes can achieve speeds of 120 kilometres per hour.
While an e-scooter can cost anything from about $300 to almost $3,000, an e-bike can set the buyer back by nearly $5,000 for a high-end, modified model.
Although e-scooters are slower than e-bikes, the recent spate of incidents had sparked safety concerns and many had called for this type of Personal Mobility Device (PMD) to adhere to the same set of regulations that have been imposed on e-bikes. In March, sales assistant Sam Koh, 22, died after falling off from his e-scooter. In September, home-maker Ang Liu Kiow, 53, underwent brain surgery after reportedly being hit by an e-scooter. In the same month, an e-scooter user was filmed riding along Mandai Road at a speed of about 60 kilometres per hours and overtaking a bus that could endanger his life and other road users.
Under the new rules, which will take effect by the end of the year, PMDs, such as e-scooters, cannot weigh more than 20 kilograms (excluding accessories such as LED lights) and are prohibited from travelling beyond the prescribed speed limit of 15 kilometres per hour on footpaths, and 25 kilometres per hour on shared paths.
Singapore Safety Driving Centre training manager Gerard Pereira supports building separate paths for e-scooters. He remarked that this can be implemented in a similar manner to how cycling towns like Tampines have dedicated lanes for cyclists and pedestrians.
E-scooter user Mohamad Shahrizal, 34, however, felt the proposed speed and weight restrictions are sufficient. He believes that the recent accidents were caused by speeding. The computer graphics artist told The Straits Times: “I’ve never had a moment going at 20kmh where I felt I wasn’t going to be able to avoid an accident.”
Mr Denis Koh, chairman of enthusiast group Big Wheel Scooters Singapore, echoed Mohamad’s views, explaining that most of the PMD users are law-abiding and the authorities should not “jump the gun” in putting more restrictions on e-scooters.
Many others, however, support the implementation of tougher rules. Mobot director Ifrey Lai said more can be done to stop retailers from selling “non-compliant” PMDs. He said: “Now, anybody can bring in scooters that can move at 70 kilometres per hour. Restrictions should be placed at the point of import.”
Online marketplaces, such as Gumtree and Carousell, have hundreds of listings for e-scooters, some of which claim to have top speeds of 80 kilometres per hour.
Transport Government Parliamentary Committee deputy chairman Ang Hin Kee said more needs to be done to educate e-scooter users. Based on the recent statement by the Land Transport Authority that more than 700 people had been issued advisories by its enforcement officers for unsafe cycling and riding, Mr Ang suggested that many may still be unaware of the rules.