SINGAPORE: A ban on personal mobility devices (PMDs) is not immediately necessary and the Transport Ministry will do "what it takes" to keep footpaths safe, the Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Janil Puthucheary said on Wednesday (Oct 9).
The minister had said in Parliament on Monday that if the behaviour of PMD riders did not improve, the authorities “may have no choice but to ban their usage completely from Singapore”.
The death of 65-year-old cyclist Madam Ong Bee Eng following a crash with a PMD rider two weeks ago had sparked public alarm over the dangers that the devices pose to others, he noted.
In an interview with CNA938, Dr Puthucheary said that while PMDs can improve first-and-last mile connectivity and are useful if used responsibly, the majority of footpath users are pedestrians, who need to be assured they can use the footpaths safely.
"The vast majority of PMD users are indeed responsible, and I think we shouldn't straightaway have a knee-jerk reaction because of a small number of people who have behaved badly," Dr Puthucheary said.
Building the necessary infrastructure - such as separate paths for pedestrians as well as cyclists and PMD riders - will take some time, he noted.
“But while we're doing that, we need safe footpaths, and we'll do what it takes to get those footpaths safe,” he said.
“We don't particularly think a ban is what we need to do right now, but it's part of our consideration and it's something that we have as a tool, if it becomes necessary.”
In the meantime, he noted the Government is progressively rolling out several initiatives – such as requiring registration of e-scooters and providing incentives for the disposal of PMDs that do not meet the UL2272 fire-safety standard.
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It is also considering measures such as requiring riders to be licensed and making insurance mandatory, he added.
"We will then be able to look at and control devices, riders and behaviour, as a result of which we hope to make everything safer," the minister said.
Many of the processes will be in place by the middle of next year, he said, adding that "quite a lot of devices" will have gone through the registration process by then.
The width of most pavements here was designed mainly for pedestrians, said National University of Singapore transport economist Timothy Wong, who was also part of the radio interview.
He said Singapore needs to work towards creating separate lanes for pedestrians and cyclists and PMD riders, because it is "just too difficult" to have them using the same footpaths.
Once the infrastructure is in place, accidents happening will be "less of a concern", he added.