SINGAPORE: The use of personal mobility devices (PMDs) could be banned if the behaviour of riders does not improve, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary.
Speaking in Parliament on Monday (Oct 7), he noted how the recent death of 65-year-old cyclist Madam Ong Bee Eng following a collision with a PMD rider had caused public alarm over the dangers that the devices pose to others.
Noting the number of accidents involving PMDs had increased with their increasing use, Dr Janil said the Government shared the concerns of Singaporeans.
“Many wish for footpaths to be safe for pedestrians again. We share this wish too,” he added.
“We are determined to improve footpath safety back to levels before PMDs were allowed onto footpaths.”
He noted that in August, a slew of measures aimed at ensuring the safe use of PMDs were announced - such as bringing forward a fire-safety certification deadline by six months and the introduction of mandatory inspections from April.
However, these plans will be revisited to see whether the current approach needs to be rethought or additional measures introduced, given the “heightened concerns and adverse feedback” in recent weeks.
“Please give us a month or two to do this review,” said Dr Puthucheary.
He noted though that the authorities still view PMDs as useful modes of first-and-last mile transport if used responsibly.
The ideal would be to have one path for pedestrians and a separate path for PMDs and bicycles, he said, though infrastructure constraints mean pedestrians and bicycles are allowed to share footpaths as a “second best practical solution”.
While it may be possible to have such dedicated paths in new towns, these are scarce in existing towns, said Dr Puthucheary.
Meanwhile, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is working with Members of Parliament to identify hotspots where improvement works - such as the widening of footpaths and the installation of speed-regulating strips - can be implemented quickly to enhance safety.
The LTA is also working with town councils to implement pedestrian only zones at town centres - announced by Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Lam Pin Min in August - which will be done in stages to allow for implementation details to be worked out.
The authorities will also speed up the development of dedicated paths for bicycles and PMDs, said Dr Puthucheary, though the full implementation of such infrastructure enhancements could take several years.
“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 said, noting these are “difficult choices” which need to be re-examined.
“In the meantime, we strongly urge PMD users to be extra responsible and mindful of others. If their behaviour does not improve, we may have no choice but to ban their usage completely from Singapore,” he said.
“This would be a loss,” he added.
READ: 'Code of conduct' for pedestrians not meant to be prescriptive, says active mobility advisory panel
POSSIBLE IMPORT CONTROLS ON NON-COMPLIANT PMDS
Responding to a question from Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah, Dr Puthucheary said 161 non-compliant PMDs had been confiscated by the LTA since July this year, when registration of e-scooters was made mandatory.
“LTA is studying upstream measures, including import controls, to tackle the problem of non-compliant PMDs,” he said, adding the penalties for illegal modifications of PMDs as well as other offences are being reviewed.
In response to Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan, Dr Puthucheary said that between Sep 23 and Oct 3, the LTA had received more than 2,800 applications for the early disposal incentive scheme and collected more than 940 PMDs.
This is under the early disposal incentive scheme, where the authority provides a S$100 cash incentive for registered e-scooters which do not meet the UL2272 fire-safety standard as well as free disposal for all PMDs which do not meet the standard.
Meanwhile, the ban on the use of PMDs, bicycles and e-bikes at the void decks and common areas of HDB blocks by town councils has not resulted in a “noticeable drop” in reported incidents, said Dr Puthucheary, noting the incentive is still in a two-month “advisory period” until the end of this month.
“We expect the full impact to be clearer, after the town councils begin enforcement action," he said in response to Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC MP Alex Yam.