Last Mile Journey – Embracing new technology for a better future
By Andy Wee, CEO – Easy Zippy Pte Ltd
It was the year 2014 where the electric kick scooters took Singapore by storm1 and started to become popular. What was commonly used by children to move around in the parks by scooting was given an electric and technology boost and now became a feasible alternative for adults to get around as an alternative to public transport. Advances in battery technology from lead acid to lithium ion variants made the electric kick scooters smaller, lighter and an attractive proposition.
However, reality set in shortly after when the Traffic Police, LTA and nPark officers started to book the escooter users. They were slapped with fines of up $500 for infringing rules of using motorised vehicles in the parks and pavements. Their new found mobility freedom was clipped and the escooter users started to wonder if they should throw their rides into the dumpster.
Formation of Big Wheel Scooter Singapore (BWSS)
Groups like the Big Wheel Scooter Singapore (BWSS) were formed on Facebook and at that time there were about 3,000 members in the group comprising of a mix of escooter and kick scooter enthusiasts, the starting interest and foundation of the group. Members passionately shared tips with each other and newbie on the variety of models of scooters to buy, user etiquette, maintenance and upgrading. It was a thriving community which has grown significantly and now boasts 11,200 members in 2016. BWSS2 founder Swen Einhaus is very active in the group and moderates the discussions for the good of the community. The community organised itself and a committee was formed in November 2014 to represent the voices of the escooter users to engage the relevant authorities, it is led by Mr Denis Koh.
In July 2015, in response to growing need for a clear set of rules to facilitate the sharing of foot paths and cycling paths safely and harmoniously, the Active Mobility advisory panel3 chaired by Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Health, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim was formed. Mr Denis Koh represented from BWSS in this forum to share on the needs and inputs from the standpoint of the escooter and PMD users.
The panel went out to the public to run an online survey and also focused group discussion to gather the views of the public. There were about 5000 online respondents and 200 participants in the focused group discussions. From the online survey, it was found that 1 in 2 respondents are open to sharing footpaths with e-bikes & motorised PMDs and 7 in 10 respondents are open to sharing cycling paths/ PCNs with e-bikes & motorised PMDs.
New Rules Recommended by Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP)
On 17 Mar 2015, The Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP) submitted its recommendations4 for the proposed rules and code of conduct to the Ministry of Transport today.5 These rules were fully accepted by the Government and are planned to be rolled out by the end of 2016.
Since then a mixed bag of news has come up ranging from man falling from his escooter in a fatal accident to other users riding on the road at 70 km/h overtaking buses and 700 people being fined6 for riding and cycling offences. On the positive side, in Jun 2016, LTA7 rolled out for two stretches of dedicated cycling path along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 and Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3. These two stretches of completed cycling path currently the first in Singapore to be marked in red – are part of plans to transform Ang Mo Kio into Singapore’s first model walking and cycling town. National Cycling Plan is calling for 700km of cycling paths to be built by 2030 – about 350km has been built to date, with the network to further expanded in future. This creates additional areas of escooter users and PMD users alike to move around.
PMDs – The future of personal transport
We have exciting developments ahead of us in support of going Car Lite and the impending new PMD regulations. The options for personal mobility and commuting will continue to be widely expanded with the large number of transport options for commuters (bicycles, ebikes, PMDs such as electric kick scooters, hoverboards and unicycles). What is critical too is that the physical infrastructure and the adoption of new norms and culture for sharing the space catches up with the availability of new technology. With all the right ingredients in place, Singapore can fully enable a 21st century active personal mobility transport system.