PMD ban? Users will have only themselves to blame
Errant users and fires make devices too much of a risk
Last Sunday, I took my two-seater e-scooter, which I had owned for almost three years, to the scrap heap - albeit at an LTA-designated disposal point.
Mine was not UL2272-certified, and I had hoped to use it up till the July 1, 2020 deadline for complying with the safety standard for personal mobility devices (PMDs).
But with the recent death of 65-year-old Madam Ong Bee Eng after a collision with a PMD rider, as well as an increase in reported PMD-related fires, I did not want to put myself and my family at any more risk.
The latest fire caused by charging PMD batteries was as recent as this week - a man and a baby girl were taken to hospital after their Bukit Batok West flat caught fire.
The latest PMD accident involved a 19-year-old rider hitting a three-year-old girl at a Boon Lay void deck last Sunday.
All this spells out an awful truth: 'PMD' is now a dirty word.
Referring to PMDs, a housewife who lived near the damaged Bukit Batok flat said: "No way will I ever let that thing into my home."
On Monday, Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary warned in Parliament that PMDs will be banned if users continue to behave irresponsibly. He also said a review will be carried out to improve PMD safety, which will take about two months.
As of yesterday, more than 68,000 have signed a petition, which was started six months ago, calling for a ban on PMDs here.
I share the frustration of those who got their devices before the landscape changed and had to give up their non-compliant devices.
But I also feel the anger of those who have to put up with irresponsible e-scooterists, as well as the pain of families of victims in accidents involving PMDs.
DISAGREE ON BAN
Despite this, I don't believe they should be outlawed. As many have said, such a ban would go against the Government's plan to go car-lite.
Too many people who depend on the devices in their daily lives will be impacted - including parents who use them as a relatively affordable means to ferry their children to and from school, and delivery riders.
A ban also penalises all users, the majority of whom are law-abiding and considerate.
But with each accident or fire, the PMD fear factor gets ramped up another notch.
LTA has already announced mandatory inspections during registration from April next year, and registered e-scooters will also be called up for inspections every two years.
The Government is also setting aside $50 million to widen footpaths and install speed-regulating strips and warning signs in the coming years.
In the meantime, I suggest these measures to enhance safety for riders and pedestrians:
- Make 18 the age limit to ride a PMD, the minimum age to drive a motor vehicle here. Riders should also attend a mandatory PMD safety course.
- Make PMD owners submit their devices for inspection annually instead of every two years. This reduces the likelihood of illegal modifications on their devices.
- Lower the speed limit of PMDs on footpaths from 10kmh to 6kmh. This will further lower the risks to pedestrians.
- Make it compulsory for riders and passengers to wear helmets and to have safety lights and bells installed on PMDs.
I still see people riding PMDs that are not registered and have no safety lights. Since July 1, it is an offence to ride an unregistered e-scooter on public paths.
On Wednesday evening, a colleague saw a rider with an infant in a baby carrier and a toddler travelling on a PMD on a two-way road with parking spaces on both sides.
When will they learn? Enough is enough.
If a ban does come to pass, PMD-riders have only themselves to blame.