Singapore— In Parliament on October 7, Monday, Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary brought up the possibility of banning the use of personal mobility devices (PMDs) should the behaviour of riders remain unchanged, citing the safety of pedestrians as the main concern.
Dr Janil mentioned the death of a 65-year-old woman after a PMD collided with her, as well as the growing number of accidents due to more and more people using PMDs.
He said, “Many wish for footpaths to be safe for pedestrians again. We share this wish too.
We are determined to improve footpath safety back to levels before PMDs were allowed onto footpaths.”
In August, measures to promote the safe use of PMDs were introduced, such as mandatory inspections starting next April as well as moving up by six months the requirement for a fire-safety certification deadline.
But the Minister added that the government will be reviewing these measures to see if others need to be added, in the light of recent “heightened concerns and adverse feedback.”
Dr Janil added, “Please give us a month or two to do this review,” and said that PMDs are still considered to be useful ways of transportation when used in a responsible manner.
Ideally, there would be separate paths for PMDs and pedestrians but due to present constraints in infrastructure, sharing footpaths is a “second best practical solution”.
For now, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is working with the Members of Parliament (MPs) to determine areas where the situation needs to be improved through measures such as installing speed regulating strips and widening footpaths, so this can be carried out immediately to make these areas safer.
And, as announced by Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Lam Pin Min two months ago, the LTA is working with town councils to begin the first stages of making town centers pedestrian-only areas.
Moreover, while the development of paths for the sole use of PMDs and bicycles may take a few years to accomplish, the government is working on this as well.
Dr Janil said, “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,” and added that these are “difficult choices” to make.
“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. This would be a loss.”
In answer to a question from MP Lee Bee Wah he said that there have been 161 non-compliant PMDs so far confiscated by the LTA since July.
“LTA is studying upstream measures, including import controls, to tackle the problem of non-compliant PMDs.” He also said that the existing penalties for illegal modifications of PMDs and other offences are now under review. -/TISG