15 town councils to ban PMDs in void decks and corridors, pedestrian-only zones to be trialled

15 town councils to ban PMDs in void decks and corridors, pedestrian-only zones to be trialled

All 15 town councils run by the People's Action Party have decided to ban personal mobility devices (PMDs) from HDB void decks and common corridors in a move to increase the safety of public paths, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min announced in Parliament on Monday (Aug 5). Elizabeth Neo reports.

SINGAPORE: All 15 town councils run by the People's Action Party (PAP) have decided to ban personal mobility devices (PMDs) from HDB void decks and common corridors in a move to increase the safety of public paths, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min announced in Parliament on Monday (Aug 5).

CNA has reached out to the Workers' Party to clarify if the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council will follow suit.

In addition, Dr Lam said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will work with some town councils to conduct a three-month trial to designate pedestrian-only zones where riders must dismount and push their PMDs.

The trials, which will start soon, will take place in town centres in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Bukit Batok and Khatib, as well as a neighbourhood centre in Tampines. If the trials prove successful, the initiative will be extended islandwide.

READ: PMD safety certification deadline moved forward to July 2020; all e-scooters to go through mandatory inspection

Dr Lam said LTA has also started a trial to implement school zone markings along footpaths outside some schools. Work has been completed at the first trial site at Fern Green Primary School, while the initiative will be expanded to Fengshan Primary School, Jiemin Primary School, Rivervale Primary School and Yishun Secondary School by September.

Besides these measures, Dr Lam revealed that the Ministry of Transport will set aside a fund to tackle PMD accident-prone hotspots by widening footpaths, putting up clear warning signs and installing speed regulating strips.

“These efforts are estimated to cost us S$50 million to implement over the next few years,” he said. “We will work with local Members of Parliament (MPs) and residents to identify the infrastructure improvements to tackle specific hotspots in each constituency.”

READ: Fire ravages Bukit Batok warehouse units storing PMDs, electrical items

READ: 54 fires involving PMDs and power-assisted bicycles reported in first half of 2019

At the national level, Dr Lam announced that LTA will expand Singapore’s cycling path network to 750km by 2025 and triple its cycling network by 2030.

These moves come as 228 accidents involving PMDs on public paths were reported in 2017 and 2018.

VOID DECK AND COMMON CORRIDOR BAN

On the move to ban PMDs from void decks and common corridors, Dr Lam said the town councils made the decision to do so after “further discussions”.

Parliament had discussed two months ago whether PMDs should be banned in these areas, where “there are many blind spots which cannot be overcome through infrastructure improvements”.

READ: Confusion among users over definition of fire-safe PMDs as LTA reconsiders ban deadline

READ: Town councils can set and enforce own rules on PMD use at void decks: Lam Pin Min

However, the town councils have not set a timeline for the ban as they are still working on details like the putting up of signs and markings. Enforcement will also have to be carried out by the town councils themselves.

Speaking after the ministerial statement, coordinating chairman of the PAP town councils Teo Ho Pin said the town councils plan to ban PMDs from "all common property unless it’s approved by the town councils or LTA".

PEDESTRIAN-ONLY ZONES

Moving on to the implementation of pedestrian-only zones at some town centres, Dr Lam said some town councils had informed authorities about the “high accident risk at crowded town centres or neighbourhood centres where the paths are lined with shops”.

“As pedestrians can walk in all directions, there is a potentially higher risk of accidents compared to a linear footpath,” he said.

READ: More than 200 PMDs impounded, nearly 600 offences logged in July: LTA

In answer to queries following the ministerial statement, Dr Lam said a six-month trial period was initially proposed, but authorities settled on three months to first gauge its effectiveness.

“We will consult the local MPs on the specific details,” Dr Lam added. "Of course if it proves to be very useful, and if we receive very good feedback from advisors as well as residents, we will implement that islandwide."

Dr Teo said he hopes that the trials will help authorities "better understand" the behaviour of PMD users, especially in the town centres.

SCHOOL ZONE MARKINGS

On the introduction of school zone markings, Dr Lam said these include speed regulating strips, “SLOW” markings and enhanced visual cues on the ground to remind PMD users to slow down and watch out for other path users, especially young children.

LTA plans to scale the initiative to other schools in Singapore.

PMD ACCIDENT-PRONE HOTSPOTS

As for PMD accident-prone hotspots, Dr Lam brought up the example of Ang Mo Kio town, which will have a cycling path network spanning 20km by 2022.

“There are four stretches where it is necessary to build cycling paths for connectivity, but where the sidewalks are not wide enough,” Dr Lam said, referring to Ang Mo Kio streets 22, 41, 43 and 61.

“To ensure a safe and well-connected network of cycling paths, we will reclaim road space to build the cycling paths at these four stretches. This will be done by reducing the width of roads or taking back an entire road lane,” he added. “This is necessary for safety and connectivity.”

READ: Injuries, evacuations, homes destroyed: PMD fires in recent months

READ: Preventing PMD fires: Tips on charging your device safely

Dr Lam said the works at Ang Mo Kio will be completed over the next three years, adding that LTA will “progressively implement” similar plans in other HDB towns.

MORE CYCLING PATHS

Finally, Dr Lam said the increased cycling paths will require LTA to reclaim some existing car lanes. LTA had previously committed to building 700km of cycling paths by 2030.

“In new precincts such as Kampong Bugis, Tengah and Woodlands North Coast, LTA plans to build cycling paths on both sides of the road,” Dr Lam added. “New cycling paths may also be added in private residential estates and industrial estates.”

MP for West Coast GRC Foo Mee Har asked if authorities would consider a dedicated cycling lane on the roads.

Dr Lam said based on feedback and experience of other countries, putting the cycling path on the roads "has its pros and cons".

"There is always this danger that the fast-moving vehicles on the roads may cause danger to the cyclist or the PMD user," he added.

Editor's note: This story has been edited following clarifications from the Land Transport Authority.

Source: CNA/hz(ms)

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