NUS suspends Grab e-scooter trial, following reports of accidents involving injuries

SINGAPORE - An e-scooter trial service at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has been stopped for a week because of a safety timeout called by the university on Friday (March 8) morning.

The GrabWheels trial - launched in December 2018 at the Kent Ridge campus - is for NUS and Grab to study the feasibility of using e-scooters as an alternative way of getting around the school.

In a letter seen by The Straits Times, Dr Peck Thian Guan, director of the Office of Safety, Health and Environment, said: "While the trial has proven to be very popular with our students, we are deeply concerned that despite safety reminders, GrabWheels riders are not practising safe-riding habits when using the e-scooters."

Responding to queries, a spokesman for NUS said it has received reports of injuries arising from accidents involving GrabWheels riders on campus over the past three months.

"A small number of injuries required hospital treatment, one of which recently involved a more serious injury," the spokesman added, explaining the reason for the safety timeout.

The one-week safety timeout has been imposed on the GrabWheels service from Friday 3pm to "reinforce the importance of safe-riding habits for the safety and well-being of the NUS community".

It will resume at 7am on March 16.

During the timeout, the school said it will work with the NUS Student Union and Grab to introduce some safety measures, such as conducting roadshows and safety education programmes for students.

It will also install more traffic measures on slopes to remind e-scooter users to slow down, and also ensure that helmets are provided at all 28 GrabWheels parking locations.

Emphasising the importance of responsible road behaviour, Dr Peck said: "Every day, motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, e-scooter users and users of other personal mobility devices travel across our busy Kent Ridge campus."

He added: "While e-scooters may provide a quick and convenient way of getting around the campus, we strongly urge users to ride safely and exercise extreme care so as to keep themselves, and other users of our shared space, safe."

A spokesman for Grab said that it supports the NUS decision to impose a safety timeout, adding that it has also observed with concern some unsafe riding behaviour.

"At Grab, our topmost priority is ensuring a safe e-scooter sharing service," said the spokesman.

"Close to four months into the pilot, it is timely to call for a safety timeout to reinforce the importance of safe riding habits, take stock of existing safety procedures and implement additional measures and educational initiatives to drive safer riding behaviour among our users."

 

The spokesman said Grab and NUS will work closely together in the review, including assessing the suitability of the campus terrain and the readiness of students in adopting proper riding habits while using e-scooters on campus.

"While we understand that the safety timeout may cause some disruption to students who rely on the e-scooter service for their in-campus commute, this is a necessary move as we care about the personal safety of every user of Grab's services," said the spokesman.

"This safety timeout is part of our commitment to bring the number of preventable incidents on our platform down to zero. We will continue to play our part in promoting responsible and right usage of personal mobility devices."