Personal mobility devices to be allowed on footpaths
It could be legal to ride bicycles or electric scooters on footpaths and pavements from as early as the end of this year.
This comes after Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo announced that the Government will accept the Active Mobility Advisory Panel's recommendations in full.
The Panel had recommended that bicycles and personal mobility devices (PMDs) like kick-scooters, electric scooters (e-scooters), electric unicycles and hoverboards, be allowed to be used on footpaths, shared paths and cycling paths.
Power-assisted bicycles, or e-bikes, will continue to be banned from footpaths and will require registration.
Most of these changes, which include regulations on speed limits and maximum weight and size of permissible devices, will be implemented by the end of this year.
MPs such as Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio) and Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied) had expressed worry about the risks that sharing pathways with cyclists and PMD users may pose to pedestrians, especially the elderly.
In response, Mrs Teo said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will set up a dedicated enforcement team and they will join the Traffic Police on joint enforcement exercises at hot spots. NParks will be conducting targeted enforcement at parks and park connectors.
There will also be increased penalties for stronger deterrence against reckless behaviour.
In response to Tampines MP Cheng Li Hui's concern about how the speed limits will be enforced, Mrs Teo said that enforcement officers will be stationed at hot spots such as crowded bus stops and use speed guns to identify excessive speeding.
To raise awareness about these changes, the Ministry of Transport will launch a nationwide Active Mobility campaign this month to publicise the proposed policies, rules and code of conduct.
A new Cyclist Education Programme will be launched in May and progressively rolled out in schools, community centres and foreign worker dormitories.
The LTA will also work with NGO volunteers and the grassroots to roll out an Active Mobility Patrol scheme which will involve community volunteers on patrols to educate the public and deter reckless behaviour.
Mrs Teo said that these changes will not be smooth sailing at first and people will need time to get used to the new policies and rules.
She said: "Some conflicts will occur but I believe that with time, and strong education and enforcement efforts, we will be able to develop a culture of safe and gracious sharing."
OTHER ISSUES RAISED
The number of dengue cases recorded in the first three months of the year - more than double the same period last year, said Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. He added that the number of cases this year may exceed 30,000, higher than the record of 22,170 cases in 2013. The National Environmental Agency will conduct a small-scale study involving the release of male Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes at the end of the year at selected sites to study their use in suppressing the Aedes mosquito population, he said.
SMOKING BAN EXTENDED
From June this year, smoking will be prohibited in reservoirs and more than 400 parks, said Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor.
This includes neighbourhood parks within residential estates and those under JTC.
The smoking prohibition was last extended in 2013. Today, there are more than 32,000 premises and locations where smoking is prohibited.
The Government will also formally include SAF camps and bases and Ministry of Home Affairs premises, which has voluntarily and successfully implemented smoke-free policies, to the list of places where smoking is prohibited by law.
KIDSTART TO REACH OUT TO 1,000 KIDS
Low-income and vulnerable children, aged 6 and below, will be "proactively identified" for the KidStart initiative, said Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin.
The Early Childhood Development Agency will set up a Programme Office and work with government agencies and selected Social Service Offices, hospitals and community partners to identify, reach out and provide coordinated support to these children and their families.
It will be piloted in Bukit Merah, Kreta Ayer, Boon Lay, Taman Jurong and Geylang Serai. About 1,000 children will benefit in the first three years.
PUBLIC ASSISTANCE PAYOUTS TO GO UP
Also known as ComCare Long Term Assistance, Public Assistance payouts for one-person households will be increased from $450 to $500.
The rates will also increase for larger households to keep pace with the cost of living.
BY THE NUMBERS
The number of households who received ComCare short-to-medium term and long-term financial assistance increased from 24,000 in 2012 to more than 31,000 in 2014, said Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development.