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Non-compliant e-scooter riders not their staff, say food delivery companies

SINGAPORE – None of the non-compliant e-scooter riders taking joy rides around Singapore is part of their staff, said the three major food delivery companies on Tuesday (May 5).

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, Grabfood, Foodpanda and Deliveroo said they have stopped working with delivery riders who use e-scooters.

Grabfood, the largest of the trio, said it has stopped all deliveries via e-scooters since April 1 this year to ensure the safety of both their delivery riders and pedestrians.

“Our delivery partners are also aware that they are required to observe all local regulations as per our Code of Conduct. Any delivery partner that is caught flouting the rule may be suspended or permanently banned from the GrabFood platform, determined on a case-by-case basis,” a Grabfood spokesman said.

The responses came after Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said on Monday on Facebook that “some riders” have begun taking to the roads again in non-compliant personal mobility devices (PMDs) during the circuit breaker period, a trend he called “worrying”.

He did not give details as to who such riders were.

Some e-scooter users have still been seen riding on footpaths, from which they have been banned since Nov 5 last year.

Videos circulating online have also shown e-scooter riders taking to the roads amid less traffic during the circuit breaker period, riding dangerously among vehicles. In one video dated April 12 and posted to online road safety group roads.sg, an e-scooter rider can be seen nearly colliding with a car. The rider is seen getting back on his scooter and hurrying off.

Foodpanda said it is “not aware of any riders” still using e-scooters, and it has stopped all deliveries via e-scooters since mid-December last year to ensure riders had sufficient time to transition to other modes of transport.

“Foodpanda prioritises the safety of our riders, customers and of the public. We take all government regulations and guidelines seriously. In the unlikely situation that a rider is found to be riding a non-compliant vehicle, the rider will be blacklisted,” Foodpanda said.

Deliveroo has stopped taking on new riders on e-scooters since May last year, and no longer works with such riders.

“We have not received any complaints or penalties from the Government for incidents involving PMD riders on footpaths,” the company said in a statement.

An e-scooter shop owner, who declined to be named, said such errant riders were possibly youngsters – more commonly known as young punks or “YPs” among the e-scooter riding community – who had bought their devices off online marketplaces like Carousell.

They are taking this period of “relaxed enforcement” to go out at midnight, he said.

“They come to ask me to help change their tyres and such but I declined,” he said, adding that he only works on legal e-scooters and the owners must also meet the minimum age requirement of 16 years to use an e-scooter in Singapore.

He added there have also been cases of thieves stealing the batteries from the e-bikes of delivery riders, which have made it necessary for them to look out for one another when their vehicles are parked.

The number of fires involving non-compliant PMDs nearly doubled from 52 in 2018 to 102 last year, with such fires continuing to occur.

To tackle the twin issues of non-compliant PMDs and their fires, Dr Lam introduced the Small Motorised Vehicles Bill and an amendment to the Active Mobility Act in Parliament on Monday.

The Small Motorised Vehicles Bill will introduce measures like import controls of motorised PMDs and power-assisted bicycles, and aims to prevent non-compliant devices from entering Singapore.

The Active Mobility (Amendment No. 2) Bill will extend the coverage of the law to include path-connected open spaces.

“Together, they will give the Government greater authority and flexibility to improve safety, enhance active mobility connectivity and bring about greater harmony in our common living spaces,” Dr Lam said.

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