Singapore—The joy for speed and the convenience it offers made Personal mobility devices (PMDs) popular with the number of users growing.
But a recent South China Morning Post (SCMP) article, asking “Why can’t Singaporeans just walk?” highlights the issues related to PMD’s.
Seemingly ridiculous, it questions why Singaporeans would want to use those devices given the tropical climate of the country, as well as the very real threat of even hotter temperatures, and the reality of climate change.
These PMDs have also been a threat to pedestrians in a number of ways, from accidents on walkways because of speedy users, to the growing number of fires caused by faulty batteries when the devices are left charging, they are not totally safe.
Reports say there are more than 90,000 personal mobility devices in Singapore.
On Monday the government says it will impose stricter rules for the use of PMD’s, including compliance with the “UL2272 standard” for these mechanical and electrical devices by July of next year instead of January 2021, a deadline that had been set earlier.
Senior minister of state for transport, Lam Pin Min, said in parliament, “As many Singaporeans rely on PMDs for their livelihoods and their commuting needs, we think this is the earliest reasonable deadline.”
But an outright ban on the devices seems to be unfeasible, given that there are over 90,000 units in Singapore.
Mr Lam told The Straits Times (ST), “I have asked myself whether we would be better off banning PMDs whenever I read of accidents involving PMDs.”
He recalled a similar situation, but with bicycles, some years ago, wherein Singaporeans learned to adjust to new regulations concerning bicycles, and learned to use them more responsibly, expressing the hope that PMD users and owners would follow suit.
He said, “However, I remember the call to ban bicycles from footpaths a few years ago. After intensive public education efforts and infrastructural improvements, there is now greater acceptance of bicycles in Singapore. I am convinced that Singaporeans can be taught to use PMDs responsibly, as they have with bicycles.”
At the moment, around 10 percent of the PMDs comply with the UL2272 safety standard.
From April next year, e-scooters will need to undergo a required inspection, Mr Lam said, as well as have to pass standards pertaining to size. The Active Mobility Act says that these devices cannot be broader than 70 cm or heavier than 20 kilos.
Other measures have also been introduced to help keep pedestrians safe, including widening footpaths all over the city, adding speed-regulating strips and warning signs on pathways, which will end up costing around S$50 million. In the 15 town councils under the ruling People’s Action Party, these devices will be banned in the common corridors and void decks of public housing blocks.
But Singapore is not alone dealing with the problems that PMD’s have brought. All around the world cities such as Hong Kong, San Francisco, and Paris are grappling with either banning the devices from certain areas or tightening restrictions on them. / TISG
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