The last three times I was almost run over by a vehicle, a car was not involved. Twice I was almost mowed over by some guy zipping down a sidewalk on his electric kickscooter, while the third time an oncoming bicycle almost took my life.
Clearly, our world-class public transport system is still struggling to attain world-class results, as Singaporeans frustrated with the amount of time it takes to get to the nearest MRT station turn to contraptions like electric bicycles and electric scooters to shorten their commutes. I’ve even seen guys on superfast electric scooters zipping down the road alongside cars (it’s illegal though)!
Here are some options you might want to take if you’re tired of waiting 20 minutes for that feeder bus service.
Want to get around by bicycle but aren’t exactly the sportiest person around? A motorised bicycle, otherwise known as an e-bike, is the next best thing to having an actual vehicle, minus the need to pay for COE. It’s particularly popular amongst people who’ve lost their licences or been priced out of the vehicle market.
Of course, the LTA had to get in on the action, and it’s now compulsory to ensure your motorised bicycle has been registered and carries LTA’s seal of approval, a blue tag that is fastened under the seat. Make sure any bicycles you buy already have the blue tag. Beware of illegally modified e-bikes as they can get you slapped with a fine.
E-bikes can be ridden on the road just like normal bikes can, although the number of people who continue to ride illegally on pavements suggests that car drivers are making it too dangerous for them to use the roads.
Pros: Fast and easy to use
Cons: Expensive, at over $1,000 for a brand new e-bike. Can’t be brought on trains and buses, and might get stolen if you lock it close to MRT stations or bus stops.
The key advantage of electric scooters over e-bikes is that they can be taken onto the MRT or bus, meaning you won’t have to leave it behind when you board and risk having it stolen.
However, riding an e-scooter is a little trickier than riding an e-bike. The smaller wheels mean you have less control, and obviously you’ll be standing the whole way.
E-scooters are not allowed to ply the roads alongside cars, although we’re not sure you would want to anyway, since drivers here have a reputation for being animals. They’re also banned from pavements and park connectors, which is also where the majority of e-scooter riders use them.
Pros: Portable, can be taken on buses and trains, relatively affordable. This is a huge advantage as you can basically eliminate almost all walking from your daily commute.
Cons: Can be challenging to ride. While e-scooters are cheaper than e-bikes at about $700 for the cheapest model, they’re still a significant investment.
Which one to choose?
Ultimately, it’s your commuting needs that are going to decide whether an e-bike or an e-scooter would be a better purchase—which one you think looks nicer is basically irrelevant.
If you want to be able to take your mobility device with you at all times, an e-scooter would be the obvious choice. For instance, if you face a long commute before and after your MRT rides, you’ll need to be able to take your e-scooter with you on the train.
On the other hand, some people prefer to just leave their mobility devices at train stations or bus stops and come back for them later—something you can only do with an e-bike. While it is technically possible to lock up an e-scooter, few people do so, and they tend to stand out and be easier to steal. Plus, e-scooters aren’t light, so if you won’t be using them you probably don’t want to have to lug them around with you. Trying to fit your e-scooter into a public toilet cubicle can be a nightmare.
Whichever one you choose, be careful not to get caught for breaking the rules, and don’t pull stunts like streaking across a zebra crossing without warning.
Would you consider commuting by e-bike or e-scooter? Tell us why or why not in the comments!