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As some may know, I am always interested in the last mile options in Singapore. In the recent years, I tested an electric bike, an e-Scooter, bought two bicycles (one mountain bike and one foldable), written many articles related to transportation (especially e-transport), and also shared the Land Transport Master Plan 2013 from LTA with my readers.
As Singapore progresses towards a greener society, I embrace the call by our Government to the people to use the public transport (to lessen the congestion on the road), ride (a bicycle) to work (or to the nearest public transportation station) and make full use of the park connectors that are across the country to reach your destination.
It seems so logical and well planned. If you look at the LTMP 2013 (Watch the video if you have time), it mentions more (and longer) sheltered walkways, more buses and MRT, more new MRT routes and by 2030, 700 km of cycling path around Singapore. That means you can literally travel to your destination easily with the transportation system in Singapore.
So, what prompted me to write this article?
THIS is what prompted me to write this article. In the article, it stated clearly that you are NOT ALLOWED to ride an e-Scooter literally anywhere in Singapore (except your own backyard, and you know that we live in HDB with no backyard). Pavements, Park Connectors, Roads are all out of bound to these e-scooters.
An excerpt from the article:
The Land Transport Authority (LTA), Traffic Police and the National Parks Board (NParks) said e-scooters are not allowed or not advised to be used on public roads, pavements and park connectors.
In response to questions from The New Paper, an LTA spokesman said: “To ensure the safety of all road users, enforcement action is taken against riders of unauthorised vehicles on public roads.
“Riders caught using unauthorised vehicles on public roads are liable, on conviction, to a fine of up to $2,000 or a jail term of up to three months for the first offence.”
But there is no regulations on e-scooter yet. I remembered the saga over Segway many years ago where most places are out of bound for it. I believe the situation is still the same but now, you have to deal with e-scooters, AirWheel and etc instead of just the Segway. It seems that there is no progress in setting regulations for such portable electric vehicles.
There are other options right?
Yes, you can go ride a bicycle to your workplace/school and etc, or ride to the nearest MRT or bus stops, or you could have just walked to your destination. But in a tropical country with high humidity like Singapore, can you imagine what will happen? Sweat, lots of sweat.
You will sweat like buckets even before you reach your destination, even if it is just to travel to your nearest MRT/bus stop. I cannot imagine a bus or MRT full of sweaty commuters to start the day.
There is still the LTA-Approved Power-Assist Bicycle, right?
You can use this type of approved electric bicycle to travel to work? YES, you can do that and NO, I am not going to do it. You will still sweat since you need to pedal. It is a good form of exercise but no thanks if you are on your way to work.
But if you are traveling to the nearest MRT/Bus stop, it may be doable. There is just one problem. How do I keep my bicycle? I can’t bring it into the train or buses. Unless we have this (super nice bicycle storage system in Japan), I will not park my Power Assist Bicycle (that easily cost above S$1,000) at some MRT stations.
Why I am ranting?
For your information, I drive. Thanks to my situation, I can drive my personal car to work. The only “problems” I faced each day on the road are road congestion and ERPs (Electronics Road Pricing).
But I do take public transport (although not as much). When I travel on public transport, I can feel the frustration of the commuters, especially on weekends and at popular places. Sometimes you are packed like sardines (but not as bad as in Japan) and you do not have much choices.
As mentioned earlier, I tried many forms of transportation (even the Segway). Here are my personal verdict on them (based on a good weather day traveling to work, to school or to MRT stations or bus stop, and lets forget whether they are legal or illegal on the road for the time being):
Bicycle (City, Mountain bike): Short to long distance trip is ok but sweating is the biggest problem. Most MRT stations do have parking for bicycles but park at your own risk. You cannot bring the bicycle onto the trains and of course, you can forget about the buses.
Bicycle (foldable): Short to long distance trip is ok but sweating is the biggest problem. Most MRT stations do have parking for bicycles but park at your own risk. You can bring the bicycle onto the trains if it meets the requirement (You can read it here or download the PDF).
Power Assist Bicycle: Short distance trip is ok but sweat is a problem. Parking is a big problem unless you don’t mind your expensive bicycle being damaged or stolen (don’t get me wrong. Singapore is still safe. Just like any countries, there are crimes whether you like it or not).
e-Bicycle (throttle control and lever control with brakes): Good for the distance but it is dangerous to road users and motorists if the users are irresponsible. Parking is a big problem unless you don’t mind your expensive e-bicycle being damaged or stolen.
Segway: Good for short to medium distance. However, as it is using your body to control movement, there are chances you might lose control over it. There is no physical brake. Everything is based on reflex actions. Parking is a problem. It is small but heavy (around 50kg)
Skate Scooter: Good for short distance. Sweating is a problem. However, it is very light and portable to bring up a bus or MRT. Not for long distance or uneven roads as wheels tend to be small.
AirWheel: Like the Segway, it is using body movement to control the speed, direction and braking. And as mentioned, there might be chances you will lose control over it. Fortunately, the speed is not fast and it is not heavy. I don’t think anyone hit by it will be seriously injured. It is good for short distance travel. It is small, light and compact. Bringing it onto trains and buses is definitely no problem.
e-Scooter (small wheels): Good for short to medium distance. There are usually physical brakes (or lever for regenerative braking). Speed is usually capped at 25km/hr. In terms of traveling, it should be used on park connectors or broad pavements. It needs to travel on flat surface as the ground clearance is usually very little. It is light and portable enough to carry onto trains or buses.
e-Scooter (large wheels 8-inch to 10-inch): Good for short to medium distance. There are usually physical brakes (or lever for regenerative braking). Speed might be faster but usually capped at 25km/hr. In terms of traveling, it should be used on park connectors or broad pavements. It is portable to carry onto trains or buses (depending on models).
I am trying to be as rationale as possible in listing out the options. From my own opinion, I think foldable bicycle and e-Scooter are the best candidates. But if you are a cyclist, you will already know that you will sweat when you pedal. Unless you have shower facilities near or at your destination, I would not think that this option is popular among the commuters.
Therefore, I think the most doable is the e-Scooter. It is light and portable with safety feature like brakes, and can install accessories like light and horn, it can be the best last mile option for many. With the popularity soaring each day, the authority should try finding out the reason(s) from those that use them instead of fining them (pun intended).
And the authority should start discussing regulations on PEVs on the road (pavement, parks and etc). Many will appreciate that and it can create more awareness of the last mile options in Singapore. Please leave your comments, opinions on this topic. I would love to hear from you whether you agree with me or not. As this post is going to be on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook Page and my personal Facebook account, feel free to engage me in any of them. I am dying to hear from you. Do share with your friends if you think it is relevant.