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

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

Several PMD owners CNA spoke to were unaware that the device has to be tested as a complete system to be UL2272-certified.

A man on a kick scooter on a shared path
A man riding a kick scooter on a shared path. (File photo: TODAY)

SINGAPORE: Most personal mobility device (PMD) owners remained unclear over the definition of a certified device, even as the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) considers bringing forward the end-2020 deadline to ban PMDs which do not meet the UL2272 standard.

Last week, LTA said the deadline was being reviewed in light of recent fire incidents related to the charging of non-UL2272-certified PMDs.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said in a Facebook post on Friday (Jul 26) that there were 54 PMD-related fires from January to July this year, more than double the same period last year.

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

According to LTA’s website, a PMD is given the certification after a series of electrical, mechanical and environmental tests. It will be tested as a whole system, which the authority said “better anticipates the full spectrum of usage conditions of the entire PMD, instead of just assessing individual components of a device".

Freelance despatcher Muhd Sufian, 38, has been using his non-UL2272 compliant PMD for several years. He said that it was “ridiculous” to ban them, as he believed that they could be made compliant by putting in a better quality battery.

Owner of PMD retailer Mighty Velo, Vivian Yuan, said that there has also been confusion in the market over installing the more powerful UL2271 batteries in scooters which already meet the safety standard.

“Ongoing chatter online with some retailers is that they have a scooter UL2272 (certified), but for the scooter to go further (they will) put a UL2271 battery inside,” she said.

UL2271 is a certification used in battery products meant for light electric vehicles.

She added that she was concerned about whether changing the battery to something that is not part of the original certification would make the PMD still UL2272 certified.

A check online by CNA found at least one retailer advertising UL2271 batteries as a fire safety certified battery.

But according to LTA, any tampering with the device will nullify its UL2272 certification.

In response to queries by CNA, an LTA spokesperson said that the majority of the 85,000 registered e-scooters as of Jul 1 were not up to fire safety standards.

“Singapore is the first country to have mandated the UL2272 standard for e-scooters used on public paths. As we introduced the new standard in September 2018, the majority of e-scooters registered to date are non-UL2272-certified,” said the spokesperson.

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

‘NOT REALISTIC’ TO BRING FORWARD DEADLINE

Other members of the PMD community cited reduced lifespans for PMDs as a problem should LTA decide to bring the deadline for the ban forward.

Jeffrey Chan, owner of PMD retailer The Wheelies, said that bringing forward the timeline was “not realistic”.

He said some customers would have bought non-certified PMDs shortly before retailers were required to stop selling them from Jul 1 onwards.

“Customers may buy (non-UL2272 e-scooters) before the cut-off. This will shorten the PMD lifespan, (as the e-scooter will) expire immediately,” he said.

He noted that most PMDs have a natural lifespan of about two years.

man rides an e-scooter in Germany
File photo of a man riding an e-scooter. (File photo: AFP/Tobias Schwarz)

Members of the PMD community whom CNA spoke to noted that this would be an issue particularly for food delivery riders.

“Especially for low income people starting their jobs within this period, (we) need to have some allowance for them. Imagine they have a (non-UL2272-certified) device, and no money to buy a (UL2272 certified) device,” said marketing manager Khoo Chia Ching.

Full-time GrabFood delivery rider Muhd Suhaimi, 27, has been using his non-UL2272 compliant scooter for almost a year. While he is aware of the end-2020 ban for such devices, he was not aware that LTA was considering bringing the deadline forward.

“(It’s) actually a big problem, because UL2272 (PMDs) is a bit expensive compared to non-UL2272 (PMDs),” he said.

“If I cannot afford a UL2272 (PMD), I have to find another full-time job.”

Source: CNA/cc

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