Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said on Monday (7 October) that the use of personal mobility devices (PMDs) could be banned if riders fail to improve their behavior on the road.
Speaking in Parliament, Dr Janil said that the number of accidents involving PMDs had taken a hike in recent times as more of them are using the devices now.
Referring to the recent death of 65-year-old cyclist Madam Ong Bee Eng after a collision with an e-scooter which caused a public uproar over the danger that the devices pose to others, the Senior Minister said that the Government shared the concerns of Singaporeans.
“Many wish for footpaths to be safe for pedestrians again. We share this wish too,” he noted.
He continued, “We are determined to improve footpath safety back to levels before PMDs were allowed onto footpaths.”
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is working together with Members of Parliament to point out hotspots where upgrading works like widening footpaths and the installation of speed-regulating strips can be implemented soonest possible to enhance safety.
Additionally, LTA is also working closely with town councils to implement pedestrian only zones at town centres, and it will be done in stages so that the implementation details can be figured out.
If that’s not all, Dr Janil also noted that the authorities will work faster in the development of dedicated paths for bicycles and PMDs. However, he added that the full implementation of such infrastructure enhancements would take a few 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 explained, emphasising that these are “difficult choices” which requires re-examination.
He continued, “In the meantime, we strongly urge PMD users to be extra responsible and mindful of others. If their behavior does not improve, we may have no choice but to ban their usage completely from Singapore. This would be a loss.”
In August this year, a number of safety measures were introduced to try and improve the safe use of PMDs. Some of the measures announced include bringing forward a fire-safety certification deadline by six months and the launch of mandatory inspections from April.
However, the Senior Minister said that these plans will be relooked in order to study whether the current approach needs reconsideration or other measures need to be announced, given the “heightened concerns and adverse feedback” received in the last few weeks.
As such, Dr Janil told that a month or two needed to do this review, and stressed that the authorities still consider PMDs as useful form of first-and-last mile transport if used responsibly.
He also noted that ideally it would be best to have one path for pedestrians and a separate lane for PMDs and bicycles. Due to infrastructure constraints, a “second best practical solution” would mean pedestrians and bicycles are permitted to share footpaths.
Dr Janil added that although it is possible to have such dedicated paths in new towns, but it’s scarce in existing towns.
Measures implemented on non-compliant PMDs
In yesterday’s Parliament session, Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah asked since the start of the mandatory registration of e-scooters in July 2019, how many illegally modified e-scooters have been seized, how does LTA keep check on devices that have been illegally modified after receiving LTA-approved certification, and if penalties will be enhanced for owners of illegally modified e-sccoters.
Responding to this, Dr Janil pointed out that 161 non-compliant PMDs had been seized by the LTA since July 2019, when registration of e-scooters was made compulsory.
“LTA is studying upstream measures, including import controls, to tackle the problem of non-compliant PMDs,” he said, noting that the penalties for illegal modifications of PMDs and other offences are being reviewed.
On the other hand, Dr Janil said that between September 23 and October 3, more than 2,800 applications for early disposal incentive scheme were received by LTA and the agency had collected more than 940 PMDs.
This is under the early disposal incentive scheme, where the authority provides a S$100 cash incentives for registered e-scooters who do not meet the UL2272 fire-safety standard and free disposal of PMDs which do not meet the requirement.
He said this in reply to a question raised by Mouthbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan who wanted to know what is the estimated cost of LTA’s early disposal incentive for e-scooters which don’t meet the UL2272 safety standard and who will bear such costs.
Separately, after the ban on the use of PMDs, bicycles and e-bikes at the void decks and common areas of HDB blocks took place, Dr Janil said that there’s a “noticeable drop” in reported incidents.
“We expect the full impact to be clearer, after the town councils begin enforcement action,” he said to Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC MP Alex Yam who wanted to know what is the public feedback of the implementation and if the number of reported accidents reduced so far.