Since January 15 this year, the LTA has put stifferregulations on personal mobility devices (PMDs), such as increasing the finefor first time offenders to $300-500 as compared to the previous fine of $100.Personal mobility devices, such as electric scooters and hoverboards, are now acommon sight in Singapore. One reason for the popularity of such devices is dueto the rise in popularity of food delivery services (such as Deliveroo and WhyQ)where a driver’s licence is unnecessary for a PMD user as compared to amotorcyclist.
Another reason would be the natural convenience that such devicesbring their owner, especially when the sheer thought of walking under Singapore’sblazing sun causes one to sweat. However, with the passing of the ActiveMobility Bill, PMDs have been causing trouble on both pedestrian pathways andon the roads. Transport minister Mr Khaw Boon Wan has told Parliament there havebeen 90 accidents involving electric bicycles and PMDs in the first half oflast year which resulted in four deaths and approximately 90 injuries. However,what are the reasons behind these accidents? One of the reasons is that some PMD users do not dismount inpublic or crowded places, thus acting as a hazard for pedestrians. While PMDusers are allowed on footpaths and park connectors, with the pedestrians havingthe right of way, this is hard to enforce as pathways in Singapore can benarrow, and pedestrians must often dive out of the way of PMDs coming through. Forexample, a Singaporean man rode his electric scooter into a tourist atChinatown MRT station on January 26.
The tourist had just exited the trainstation when the scooter collided into her from behind. Despite encouragementto dismount in places of high crowd density, PMD users could still find it moreconvenient to remain on their vehicles and simply exercise more caution. Thisis relatable as I have experienced the dilemma of dismounting from my bicycleat a pedestrian crossing (cyclists should dismount and push their bicycles)when it is much easier to simply cycle across the crossing. Another reason would be that some PMD users ride on the road,as can be seen from the viral video of a man riding his e-scooter down thePan-Island Expressway. This is very dangerous, especially as PMD users are notrequired to know the highway code or obtain a licence to own their vehicles.
Hence, they might be unused to or unaware of the road safety rules. Many peoplehave taken to social media to vent their frustration and call for these PMDs tobe banned from the roads- without knowing that the ban has already been put inplace. This shows that people at large are confused towards the law regardingPMDs, possibly because the law is new, and could also be due to the law itself.For example, electric bicycles are allowed on roads, however, other PMDs arenot. Another example would be that PMDs can be “used in limited instances on roads such as to avoid an obstacle on afootpath or when crossing a road”. This law is not clear-cut about whether PMDsare allowed on roads and fluctuates based on circumstance, and as such peopleturn to their own gut senses to determine whether they are in clear. Forexample, a man riding his e-scooter on the pavement could find his pathobstructed by recycling bins and thus switch to the minor road within an areaof landed housing. However, as he is now riding on the road, the naturalprogression of things would be to continue riding into a major road.
With more than 480 PMDs impounded over the course of lastyear, both the government and food delivery companies have taken steps toeducate the public on road safety. For example, the LTA has started a SafeRiding Programme to combine theory and practice in a training circuit in orderto let cyclists and PMD users experience dealing with different situations. Theprogramme will be conducted at schools, migrant worker dormitories, andcommunity clubs, among other places. On the other hand, Deliveroo has made anonline safety programme compulsory for all its riders in order to ensure thatits riders meet minimum safety standards. WhyQ even has a training session withexperienced riders for new riders in order for them to learn the ropes, withrandom checks on the conditions of the riders’ electric scooters to make sure thatproper maintenance has been taking place. In conclusion, I feel that the issueof rule-breaking PMD users will be solved in time, as rules become more refinedand information spreads through word of mouth.
I believe that PMD users musteducate themselves regarding PMD laws in order to avoid causing harm to themselvesand others.