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Delivery riders cite safety concerns if they were to use bicycles for work

SINGAPORE — Some food-delivery riders here who use electric scooters have voiced their safety concerns about plying the roads on bicycles or e-bikes, following the Government’s offer of grants for swopping their devices.

Food-delivery riders with Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Member of Parliament Teo Chee Hean at his meet-the-people session on Nov 8, 2019.

Food-delivery riders with Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Member of Parliament Teo Chee Hean at his meet-the-people session on Nov 8, 2019.

SINGAPORE — Some food-delivery riders here who use electric scooters have voiced their safety concerns about plying the roads on bicycles or e-bikes, following the Government’s offer of grants for swopping their devices.

Others are still hoping the authorities would reverse their decision to ban e-scooters from footpaths.

On Friday (Nov 8), the Ministry of Transport (MOT) said that it had set up a S$7 million e-scooter trade-in grant with the main food-delivery companies here, namely Foodpanda, GrabFood and Deliveroo.

To tap the grant, existing delivery riders must surrender their e-scooters at disposal points located at the three food-delivery companies’ premises from Nov 15 until the end of the year.

Existing riders who intend to stay on the job will receive a grant of up to S$1,000 each to switch to an electric bicycle (e-bike) or personal mobility aid, or up to S$600 each to switch to a bicycle.

Several delivery riders expressed concern that opting for an e-bike or a bicycle could pose a danger to them as they would have to ride them on roads.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said that e-bikes are allowed only on roads while bicycles may be used on roads, footpaths, cycling paths, shared paths and park connectors.

Ms Tan Sook Fern, 41, said that she had told her Member of Parliament (MP) in Bukit Batok, Mr Murali Pillai, that if many delivery riders were to switch to e-bikes or bicycles, it would heighten the risk of accidents on the roads.

“It’s like taking the problem from the footpaths to the roads,” she said.

Ms Tan added that while she had tried to complete her deliveries with a bicycle over the last few days, it had been too tiring for her to reach the usual number of deliveries she used to make a day.

She used to fulfil 20 orders daily. Since the ban took effect on Tuesday, she has made a total of 30 deliveries over the past four days.

Some delivery riders are also not keen on trading in their personal mobility devices (PMDs) for bicycles.

Ms Cindy Rachel Goh, who is a full-time delivery rider with GrabFood, said that using a bicycle for her deliveries would be “very tedious”.

“I have a back problem, so I cannot cycle for long. Riding an e-bike on the road is also very dangerous. The best option is still an e-scooter.” 

Mr Imran Zulkhifli, 28, a delivery rider with both Foodpanda and GrabFood, said that he has no experience of riding on the roads.

“It can be more of a danger to the rider as you don’t have experience on the roads, and e-bikes do not require a licence.” 


Mr Imran added that he had raised his concern with Mr Teo Chee Hean, MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency (GRC), at his meet-the-people-session in Pasir Ris on Friday.

Speaking to reporters after the session, Mr Teo described the whole issue as one “of trying to safeguard lives as well as trying to safeguard livelihoods”.

“So it’s a difficult decision for MOT to take because we are trying to do both,” Mr Teo said. “Lives are important as well. Here in Pasir Ris, we’ve had a number of accidents already.

“But at the same time, we also understand the livelihood issues of the food-delivery riders. So what MOT is doing is basically trying to offer them some alternatives, some viable alternatives, to help them to continue to be able to make a living from this either full-time or part-time,” he added.

Mr Teo said that he had heard the riders’ concerns. “There are different options like e-bikes... or normal bicycles,” he said. “If they feel that they want to have a different kind of job or career, we also have our friends from the National Trades Union Congress here talking to them.”

Mr Teo added that he will also convey to MOT the concerns of retailers, some of whom have brought in stockpiles of PMDs for the year-end sales events but could now find trouble selling them.


The question of safety was also raised on the sidelines of a media briefing by MOT to announce the grant on Friday.

To ensure it is safe for riders using e-bikes to be on the roads, LTA said that it will be working with food-delivery companies to get their riders to go through a safe-riding programme.

Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Ang Hin Kee, who was present at the briefing, said that it is “really up to everybody to be inclusive”, urging the public to support the riders’ quest to make a living.

Mr Ang is also the deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, which was set up to scrutinise the legislation and programmes of MOT and serve as an added channel of feedback on government policies.

“If we can, I think we should make available the option for people to (make a living) responsibly, use the right equipment to continue to do so,” he added.

LTA's FAQ on help for delivery riders. Source: LTA 

Six food-delivery riders were invited to the LTA headquarters for a dialogue with Dr Lam Pin Min, Senior Minister of State for Transport, on Friday. Among them was Mr Mohamad Fauzan, 21, an environmental science student at Republic Polytechnic who works part-time with GrabFood, usually from 5pm to 3am after school.

He told TODAY that the news of the ban has hit him hard. Electricity at his home was on the verge of being cut off because his family did not have money to pay the bill, and now his daily income has been reduced by more than half since the ban took effect.

He used to earn S$100 a day, but has taken home just S$45 in recent days. His father remained jobless after getting retrenched and the income of his mother, who works as a cleaner, is not enough to supplement their spending as a household. He has four siblings.

On the new measures introduced to help people like him, Mr Fauzan said that he is still “slowly accepting the idea”, but his concern is if there will be more accidents with e-bikes and bicycles being used to perform their deliveries.

Asked for his sense of whether his fellow food-delivery riders might take well to the news, he said: “Many won’t accept it at first, but give it some time.”


Another GrabFood delivery rider, Mr PK Satria, remained unsatisfied by the measures offered by the Government and said that he will continue to attend meet-the-people sessions in his constituency, Jurong GRC, until the ban on footpaths is overturned.

Like other delivery riders, Mr Satria, 21, is concerned about his safety when it came to using e-bikes on the road.

He added that bicycles are not a good option for older delivery riders or those with physical impairments.

Instead, Mr Satria suggested that delivery riders be granted a licence to use their PMDs for work on footpaths.

When asked what his next step would be, Mr Satria said: “For me, I’m going to continue fighting for the 'unbanning' of PMDs to be used on footpaths. As long as it takes, we (delivery riders) will continue to do so.” ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY WONG PEI TING

Related topics

PMD e-scooter ban footpaths food delivery LTA Ministry of Transport

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