E-scooter rider dices with death by overtaking bus
E-scooter rider caught on video overtaking bus in heavy traffic. E-scooter community leader says: He must be punished
The three-lane Mandai Road is usually occupied by buses, cars and heavy vehicles.
It is no place for a small but powerful electric scooter (e-scooter) - which is not allowed on the roads anyway.
But an e-scooter rider not only blatantly ignored the rule by riding on Mandai Road in heavy morning traffic, he also, at one point, flirted with injury, perhaps even death, by cutting out into the middle lane to overtake a bus.
His bold, and foolhardy, act was captured by the camera phone of the front passenger in a car travelling behind the e-scooter at around 8am on Thursday.
The rider, who was carrying a backpack and wearing a helmet and gloves, initially travelled on the left-most lane of the road. The road has a speed limit of 70kmh.
At one point, the camera panned to the speedometer of the car, which shows it was travelling at just under 70kmh. The driver pointed to the speedometer and said, "Power," referring to the e-scooter ahead.
As the e-scooter gained on the SMRT bus service 171, one of them commented: "Let's see how he overtakes the bus."
As if on cue, the rider sped up to overtake the bus. When he was alongside the bus, a taxi could be seen travelling behind him in the middle lane.
All it would take for tragedy to strike would be for the bus to veer slightly to its right, or for the rider to slip and fall.
Fortunately, this did not happen, and as the rider cut in front of the bus to return to the edge of the road, someone in the car laughed and exclaimed: "Steady, lah!"
The video, which was posted on citizen journalism website Stomp on Thursday, has gone viral, with more than 80,000 views.
It was fiercely debated on Big Wheel Scooters Singapore (BWSS), a community of e-scooter enthusiasts who were upset and concerned that the rider was giving them a bad name.
A BWSS member wrote: "These sort of idiots get no sympathy from me if/when they get mauled by other vehicles."
BWSS chairman Denis Koh told The New Paper yesterday that "black sheep" such as the e-scooter rider in the video must be punished.
He said: "I strongly believe that education plays an important role, but stern action must be dished out swiftly in order to cultivate proper etiquette and to preserve safety for users and other stakeholders sharing the path."
Mr Koh, who is also a member of the Active Mobility Advisory Panel, added that the BWSS Facebook page, which has more than 10,000 members, will now forbid any post related to speeding or illegal modifications to make e-scooters go faster. (See report)
It was announced in Parliament in March that personal mobility devices (PMD) such as e-scooters will be allowed on footpaths, cycling paths and shared paths, but not roads, at the end of the year.
E-scooters are allowed to travel below 15kmh on footpaths and below 25kmh on bicycle or shared paths.
These guidelines were reiterated by the police and Land Transport Authority (LTA) when The Straits Times sought more information on Thursday's incident.
TNP understands that current legislation, if strictly interpreted, forbids the use of PMDs on any LTA roads, pavements or park connectors, and allows them to be ridden only on private premises.
The authorities have largely adopted a soft-touch approach on this, though some e-scooter riders have said they were fined for riding on park connectors or footpaths.
The Mandai Road rider's reckless behaviour comes less than a week after a 53-year-old woman was hit by an e-scooter on a footpath and is now on life support in hospital. (See report at far right.)
The accident sparked calls, particularly from pedestrians, for e-scooters to be banned on footpaths.
Mr Alex Chua, 29, a trade finance operation executive who has been commuting to work daily on his e-scooter, said he was berated by a pedestrian yesterday.
He said: "I can understand why they are angry about us riding on the pavement due to many reckless riders. We sometimes use the pavement as pedestrians, too, so we understand their worry."
Mr Chua, who owns the same model of e-scooter used by the reckless rider on Mandai Road, added: "Not all riders are disciplined like me.
"It all depends on the rider's obligation to the safety of others. Even a kick scooter can kill someone."
Fast e-scooters not rare - but dangerous
An e-scooter achieving speeds of up to 70kmh like the one in the video clip shot along Mandai Road.
Not if you ask owner Norman Lee of motorcycle workshop Race Werks.
Out of curiosity, Mr Lee hooked up a customer's $900 e-scooter onto the workshop's eddy current dynamometer in early August.
The machine, which measures a motorbike's horsepower, speed and acceleration, gave a reading of 59kmh while the e-scooter's speedometer showed 67kmh.
Mr Lee, 36, who showed The New Paper a video clip of the dyno test, said: "The way the e-scooter picked up speed from 0 to 50kmh was like a 70 or 80cc motorcycle.
"Despite a simulated load of 80kg, it still managed 59kmh.
"In the wrong hands, especially those without training, this can be dangerous."
But there are sellers online who tout e-scooters capable of speeds between 45kmh and 60kmh, said business development manager Chew Boon Hur of Mobat, a local brand of e-scooters assembled in China.
"We dictate the specifications of our e-scooters to our partners in China because we're concerned for rider safety," he said.
Like Mr Lee, Mr Chew was aware of the clip showing the e-scooter rider overtaking a bus along Mandai Road.
Mr Chew said: "Any speeds above 25kmh can make it hard for a rider to control the e-scooter in an emergency."
Mr Lee said more awareness is needed to discourage people from modifying e-scooters to go faster even when there are hobbyists on social media who provide "tuning" services.
But when you add more power and speed to the equation, you risk getting hurt, Mr Lee said.
"E-scooters are not meant to go as fast as motorcycles because they have limited suspension travel and inadequate brakes to deal with high-speed braking," said Mr Lee.
"The worst case scenario when you jam the brakes (on an e-scooter) is you'll lose traction and crash."
Mr Ronald Tay of scootersg.com believes that most e-scooter riders are law-abiding.
In his opinion, educating new riders on safety and engaging customers just before they buy e-scooters are every dealer's responsibility.
"I'm not going to sell a 20kg machine (e-scooter) to a 40kg girl," said Mr Tay.
"I will spend 20 minutes with each customer to select a suitable e-scooter for his or her needs."
GROUP: E-scooter riders at Pasir Ris Drive 3.
Housewife still unconscious, family not giving up
Her chances of recovery remain slim, but her family is not giving up.
The family of the housewife who was knocked down by an e-scooter in Pasir Ris last Saturday has decided to keep her on life support.
Madam Ang Liu Kiow, 53, is still unconscious in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Changi General Hospital (CGH) after a 17-year-old on an e-scooter crashed into her a week ago.
Her son, Mr Wilson Leong, 22, a student, told The New Paper yesterday that his mother is no longer under sedation.
He said: "We can see some movement with her eyes and hands, but whether it's a reflex or conscious reaction, we don't know.
"Doctors say the chances of her waking up are slim."
Mr Leong has seen the video uploaded on Stomp of an e-scooter overtaking a bus in Mandai Road.
He said the incident is different from his mother's accident, but he felt strongly that enforcement action must taken against users of personal mobility devices who blatantly disregard the law.
"Such devices are only going to get more trendy," he said.
"This guy was travelling at 70kmh. If he goes on a pedestrian walkway, then how?"
But he conceded that enforcement might be a problem.
"Honestly, it's very hard to enforce the rules. We just don't have enough officials to enforce them," he said.
As for his mother, he said the family does not know how long she can be kept on life support.
"I'm not sure how long we can keep her on life support or how we are going to manage our finances."
THE NEW PAPER, SEPT 21