Transport minister: By-law for e-scooters to be introduced soon, licence may be required for certain micro-mobility vehicles

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A woman wearing a protective face mask rides an electric scooter in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur January 3, 2021. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
A woman wearing a protective face mask rides an electric scooter in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur January 3, 2021. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong revealed yesterday that the government will soon introduce a by-law to regulate the use of electric scooters (e-scooters). This comes at a time when eScooter usage in Malaysia is on the rise but there’s a lack of clear guidelines on its usage and regulation.

According to Dr. Wee, the use of micro-mobility vehicles was covered under the Road Transport Act 1987 (Act 333) when it was amended in August 2020. Micro-mobility vehicles are defined as “any vehicle that is propelled by electrical means, an internal-combustion engine or human power or a combination of electrical means, an internal-combustion engine or human power, and having a maximum speed of 50 km/h”. However, he said by-laws are needed to provide a clear definition and specific regulation to handle micro-mobility vehicles. This is to provide clarity on vehicles that are permitted and not permitted for use.

He shared there are concerns that some eScooters are driven too fast and may pose a risk to other users. He said soon there will be bylaws that must be adhered to by all micro-mobility vehicle users.

For vehicles that can achieve certain speeds, a licence may be required. He said the details will be fine-tuned and there have been several engagements conducted on the matter. He added that the number of micro-mobility devices is huge and even e-bicycles are far quicker than regular bicycles. He said all aspects of mobility vehicles must be looked into thoroughly so that nothing is left out.

Dr Wee emphasised that the definition of micro-mobility devices must be defined clearly through the bylaws and must be regulated for the benefit of all users.

As Malaysia has started its transition to the endemic phase, we are starting to see more outdoor activities including the usage of eScooters. According to the Royal Malaysia Police, the usage of e-scooters is not permitted on public roads as well as highways. Violators can be fined RM300 for the first offence and RM1,000 or three months jail for subsequent offences. It was also reported that eScooters can be used on public roads if riders apply for a special licence from the director-general of the Road Transport Department (JPJ).

E-scooters are seen as a potential last-mile solution for public transport users and there are several providers offering them for rent around city centres and strategic tourist spots. However, if they are only limited to ride on the pavement, what about sections of roads that don’t have a safe and suitable pavement for micro-mobility devices? Even the designated blue bicycle lanes in Kuala Lumpur are not isolated properly like in other developed nations.

In Singapore, e-scooters are only permitted on cycling paths but are not allowed on footpaths. Meanwhile, e-bicycles are allowed on both cycling paths and public roads, except for expressways and road tunnels. — SoyaCincau

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