Since May, more than 700 cyclists and personal mobility device users have been caught for reckless riding by a new team of enforcement officers from the Land Transport Authority (LTA), who are identifiable by their bright yellow tops with an LTA crest.
Offenders were caught for acts such as riding electric bicycles on footpaths, cycling at night without bike lights which poses a danger to others, and failing to give way to pedestrians.
Under current laws, cyclists and personal mobility device (PMD) users found riding recklessly can be prosecuted if they injure others. Those convicted may be fined up to S$5,000 or jailed up to a year, or both.
However, these 700-odd offenders were given advisories and not fined because the new rules and conduct for the safe use of footpaths, cycling paths and shared paths - proposed earlier this year by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel - have not been passed into law yet.
The new rules are likely to be raised in Parliament before the end of this year, and after the laws are passed, LTA officers will be armed with speed guns and foldable bicycles when out on patrol.
As part of an education and enforcement drive to raise awareness about the new rules, the LTA has, since May, deployed this dedicated team of Active Mobility Enforcement officers more than 400 times across Singapore - mostly in public housing and industrial estates.
The LTA did not reveal the number of such officers it has, but said that it is a growing number because it is also cross-training other officers to carry out the duties.
On Wednesday morning, it sent eight such officers to Yung Sheng Road near Jurong Stadium, which is frequented by cyclists on power-assisted bicycles.
During the two-hour operation, five advisories were issued, most of them to those riding electric bicycles on footpaths who failed to give way to pedestrians. About 360 cyclists and PMD users also received educational material about how to ride safely.
Each day, the officers stake out two to three high-traffic locations such as these - some based on tip-offs on the gathering of a PMD interest group or a crowd playing the Pokemon Go game on their smartphones.
Each operation can last up to three hours, and they hand out brochures to cyclists and PMD users on the new rules and code of conduct, which stipulate that they have to stay within the 15kmh speed limit when riding on footpaths, and 25kmh on cycling paths, among others.
To complement the ongoing enforcement efforts, the LTA is working closely with retailers to bring in PMDs that comply with the stipulated criteria for use on public roads. Many retailers have taken the initiative to advise their customers about safe riding behaviour, the authority said.
Mr Willy Soo, deputy manager of the enforcement unit at the LTA, said that the current outreach goes beyond the number of cyclists who have been stopped. This is because many of them would tell their riding friends about their encounter and inform them of the new rules that way. "Based on our accounts, whenever we revisit a location ... we find that people are generally more compliant, we issue (fewer) advisories ... and tend to see more people showing gracious behaviour," he said.
Mr Richard Lim, who lives on Ho Ching Road in Jurong and cycles, heard that his friend was recently fined twice by the LTA for riding an electric bicycle with a throttle, and was warned for not wearing a helmet and for riding too fast. "Now he doesn't dare to ride it and has converted to riding a conventional bike," the 48-year-old said. "I think it is better to be considerate to pedestrians (on) the footpath."
A Taman Jurong resident, who identified himself only as Mr Wang, said that he has not heard about the new rules. For him, a brochure would not be enough. "Even though I now read and understand that I should not ride beyond 15kmh, I would not know if I have exceeded the speed limit when riding, unlike drivers who have speed indicators," the 46-year-old said.
Mr Richard Ang, 62, who lives on Corporation Road, is glad that enforcements are being carried out. He observes that cyclists tend not to slow down when riding past pedestrians, and wishes that the paths be widened to accommodate both riders and pedestrians in the long term.
"For me at least, I would want to have peace when I am strolling with my friend, and not have to walk in a single file because I am afraid a bike would zoom by."
Source: Government of Singapore