PMD users warned: Behave responsibly or face total ban
Authorities reviewing plans to improve pedestrian safety and reduce risk of PMD fires, Janil tells Parliament
A complete ban of personal mobility devices (PMD) in Singapore may become a reality if the behaviour of errant users does not improve.
Issuing this warning in Parliament yesterday, Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said the Government will be left with no choice but to do so if PMD users continue to behave irresponsibly.
He also said a review will be carried out to improve PMD safety amid the increase in accidents and fires linked to them.
The ministry will take about two months for the thorough review of plans to strengthen public path safety for pedestrians and reduce the risk of PMD fires, which were shared in August.
"In the meantime, we strongly urge PMD users to be extra responsible and mindful of others," Dr Janil added.
Due to infrastructure constraints in Singapore, pedestrians and bicycles are allowed to share footpaths, he noted.
Currently, PMDs can be used only on shared paths (at up to 25kmh) and footpaths (10kmh). They are not allowed on roads.
Dr Janil said: "Ideally, there should be a clear separation of traffic - pedestrians on footpaths, active mobility devices on dedicated paths for PMDs and bicycles, and motor vehicles on roads."
While this separation will be introduced in new Housing Board towns, existing towns currently do not have many dedicated paths for PMDs, he added.
To mitigate this, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is working with the various MPs on measures such as identifying accident hot spots, widening footpaths, and installing dedicated speed regulating strips.
"We will also speed up development of dedicated paths for PMDs and bicycles," he said.
Noting that this process could take time, Dr Janil added: "Meanwhile, we have to make a decision on where to allow PMDs to be used, other than on dedicated paths for PMDs and bicycles - on footpaths, or on roads, or not at all until the town is ready?"
He was responding to three MPs, including Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC), following two recent deaths involving PMDs.
On Sept 24, a 30-year-old man died in hospital after falling off his e-scooter in Tanah Merah Coast Road.
The next day, Madam Ong Bee Eng, 65, who was involved in an accident with an e-scooter while cycling home in Bedok on Sept 21, died in hospital.
Dr Janil said that her death had caused public alarm over the dangers that PMDs pose to others and "heightened fears for the safety of pedestrians using footpaths, particularly the old and the young".
"We share Singaporeans' concerns... We are determined to improve footpath safety back to levels before PMDs were allowed onto footpaths," he added.
He also said the number of accidents involving PMDs had gone up with the increase in users.
There were 228 reported accidents involving PMDs on public paths in 2017 and last year, with 196 resulting in injuries.
Dr Janil said that penalties for illegally modifying a PMD will also be relooked.
In addition to mandatory inspections during registration from April next year, registered e-scooters will also be called up for inspections every two years.
LTA will also schedule free mandatory inspections for e-scooters registered before April next year.
All non UL2272-certified e-scooters will be automatically deregistered in July next year.
UL2272-certified PMDs that do not comply with the weight, width, and speed requirements during inspection will also be deregistered.
From next April, all new e-scooters must pass the inspection before they can be registered for use on public paths.
Retailers and businesses can only display, sell, or lease devices that passed the inspection.
Several MPs made suggestions yesterday on improving PMD safety, such as mandatory licensing of PMD riders after they pass the Highway Code.
Ms Lee highlighted an incident where an elderly resident in her constituency was badly hurt after he was hit from behind by an e-scooter rider, who left without helping him.
Dr Janil said some of their ideas are already part of the Active Mobility Advisory Panel's recommendations and will be part of the review.
'BACK TO SQUARE ONE'
Mr Denis Koh, a panel member, told The New Paper that a ban on PMDs would not be ideal.
He said: "If we have a complete ban, we will go back to square one. Before PMDs, we also had problems with e-bikes and bicycles.
"We should shift our focus from the device to individuals instead. If they ride irresponsibly and endanger the lives of others, we should whack them hard."
The late Madam Ong's niece, Ms Eileen Sim, 28, said in a Facebook post yesterday that the review to improve PMD safety is a good start.
"Now even in her death, she (has) helped a lot of people indirectly, because it raised public awareness and highlighted the growing concerns about PMD usage in Singapore."
For riding an unregistered e-scooter on public paths, first-time offenders can be fined $2,000 and/or jailed for up to three months.
For using non-compliant e-scooters on public paths, first-time offenders can be fined $5,000 and/or jailed for up to three months.