Penang cracks down on illegal escooter rentals

GEORGE TOWN: It may be fun to zip through the streets on an electric-powered micro-mobility vehicle, but be wary that it might be against the rules.

With escooters still found to be illegally plying public roads on the island, Penang Island City Council (MBPP) has ramped up its enforcement to curb their rental.

During the latest operation, 25 escooters were seized when enforcers from the council raided a shop in Lebuh Pantai at 11pm on Friday.

The only person manning the shop – which didn’t have a valid license – was a Bangladeshi national, MBPP’s statement said.

Last Tuesday, MBPP mayor Datuk A. Rajendran said people can opt for bicycles instead of escooters, which are prohibited on the streets.

He said there are currently four licensed bicycle rental operators and five illegal escooter rental shops on the council’s radar, adding that 48 escooters were seized since 2022 after the council imposed a total ban on their use on public roads.

In January last year, MBPP published the “Garis Panduan Penggunaan Mikromobiliti di Kawasan Pulau”, a guideline to regulate usage of escooters, on its website.

In the guidelines, all types of human-powered bicycles, unicycles and power-assisted bicycles (which have pedals, batteries and motors to help keep the bicycle moving within 25kph) are allowed on all types of roads and lanes.

All other types of personal mobility vehicles, including escooters and battery-powered wheelchairs, are only allowed in dedicated bicycle lanes, along the back lanes of the heritage enclave, and on specific streets closed to traffic on the island’s Sunday car-free zones from 6am to 1pm, which only encompasses a small section of the heritage enclave.

The escooters must not be used on public roads and pedestrian walkways at any time.

Apart from enforcing their use and rental, MBPP has been educating business operators and their users using various approaches, including raising awareness on the rules on social media.

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