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Tougher rules, penalties for riders, sellers of e-bikes

SINGAPORE — With offences relating to the use of electric bicycles on the rise, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced today (Nov 19) that errant riders or retailers will face heavier penalties with immediate effect, while regulations governing such bikes will be tightened from next month.

SINGAPORE — With offences relating to the use of electric bicycles on the rise, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced today (Nov 19) that errant riders or retailers will face heavier penalties with immediate effect, while regulations governing such bikes will be tightened from next month.
 
The LTA, which is reviewing possible legislative amendments to further increase the penalties, said that in the first half of next year, new rules and norms will be announced for the use of paths and roads by cyclists and users of electric bikes and other Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs). These are currently being studied by a panel that was set up in July. 

The growing popularity of PMDs has come under the spotlight recently, with safety concerns raised by the public. The LTA said: “Special attention is being paid to (electric bikes) because they are currently allowed on public roads, and hence there are significant safety concerns.” 

The number of offences involving the use or sale of what the LTA described as “non-compliant power-assisted bicycles” rose from 11 notices issued in 2008 to 1,280 notices in the first 10 months of this year. 

Under the new rules, electric bicycles must not weigh more than 20kg and have to meet a European standard that specifies stringent technical requirements. These make it harder to modify the bikes, the LTA said. 

Currently, electric bicycles have to meet basic technical requirements before they are approved by the LTA and be affixed with a blue seal. Bikes that have the blue seal can continue to be used on public roads. Nevertheless, from next month, retailers may submit applications for approval of models that meet the new requirements, and approved bikes under the new regime will be given an orange seal. 

LTA-authorised vehicle inspection centres will continue to seal electric bikes that comply with the old technical requirements until Jan 31. From Feb 1, only those that comply with the new requirements will be approved and sealed.

The new European standard to be adopted, EN15194, is applied in 33 countries across Europe and in Australia. It requires motor power assistance to be progressively and smoothly managed. “This makes the (electric bicycle) less prone to jerking when moving off from a stationary position, making it safer for the rider and other road users,” the LTA said. 

With immediate effect, the composition fine for first-time offenders using or selling non-compliant electric bikes will be increased from S$100 to S$300. Subsequent offences will attract composition sums of S$500, up from S$200. Repeat offenders may also be charged in court and have their electric bikes seized. Retailers found selling non-compliant electric bikes, or modifying them illegally will continue to be charged in court, the LTA said. 

Housewife Doreen Choo, 36, who owns an approved electric bike, welcomed the LTA’s move to clamp down on those who illegally modify their electric bikes. 

The LTA said it will distribute brochures and posters to help retailers and potential buyers understand the key changes in the technical requirements and the higher penalties. Its officers will also be engaging retailers.

Giving an update on the work of the panel looking into new rules on the use of PMDs, the LTA said an online public survey was recently completed. Focus group discussions will be conducted in the coming weeks.

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