Watch where you go, e-scooter users
WHILE others rely on private or public transport, he whizzes around on his electric kick scooter.
Travelling around 5km on park connectors and pavements is how designer Benjy Choo, 39, goes to work each day.
Said Mr Choo: "On days that my wife uses the car, I ride the e-scooter. Public transport doesn't take me right to the doorstep of my office and bicycles are too cumbersome to carry to a meeting, and the weather is too hot to ride one."
The only problem is that it is illegal to ride e-scooters on Singapore's roads, and he could be jailed or fined for it.
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."
And pavements are out too, according to the Traffic Police.
Said its spokesman: "Singapore's pavements are not wide enough for shared purposes. Given personal electric vehicles' construction and their ability to move at higher speeds, the risk of collision resulting in serious injuries to the users as well as pedestrians is significant.
When a personal electric vehicle causes hurt to pedestrians, the user could be jailed for up to one year, fined up to $5,000 or both, the spokesman added.
Using e-scooters and other motorised electric vehicles in parks and along park connectors is out of the question as well "for the safety of park users, as these vehicles can reach high speeds", according to an NParks spokesman.
Doing otherwise could draw a fine of up to $5,000.
NParks recently put up more signs and banners to warn that e-scooters and other electric vehicles, except electric wheelchairs, are banned from its parks.
Legally, users can ride e-scooters only in their own private premises, or where an organisation has approved the use of these vehicles, said Warren Chew, director of Falcon Portable Electric Vehicles. The company is one of the largest e-scooter distributors here.
E-scooters are currently not regulated, unlike motorised bicycles.
Users know that it is illegal to ride e-scooters on public roads, but few know that they are not allowed in parks and on pavements too.
Some riders told The New Paper that because they cannot afford a car, and MRT trains and public buses are too crowded, these scooters are the best solution to their transport woes.
Mr Choo, for example, often rides it to work, to meet clients or to run errands for his family.
He said: "It reduces the need for cars and one can easily take it onto buses and trains.
"It is the perfect solution for Singapore."
Distributors and retailers said sales figures for e-scooters have jumped since their introduction late last year.
Mr Chew of Falcon Portable Electric Vehicles said he warns the buyer at each sale: "I tell each customer that, technically, what they are getting is not legal to be used on almost any road here."
He classes the scooters as portable electric vehicles, alongside self-balancing unicycles and vehicles like the Segway.
He believes there are 2,000 to 3,000 portable electric vehicle users on the roads today, based on his sales figures.
The exact figures are not known as there is no industry association for these vehicles and some buyers get their scooters from online shops.
E-scooters cost over $1,000, but can be cheaper if bought online.
This trend has also led to the creation of several communities for enthusiasts here.
One Facebook group, called Big Wheel Scooters Singapore, has more than 2,500 users and organises meet-ups at least once a month.
About 40 to 50 e-scooter users attend each time.
Said the group's founder, Swen Einhaus: "I started the group last November, thinking there was just a small niche community.
"I did not expect the hype to build up so quickly."
THE NEW PAPER