Singapore— In Parliament on Tuesday, May 7, the Senior Minister of State for Transport, Lam Pin Min said that it is up to town councils to formulate and implement their own rules concerning the usage of personal mobility devices (PMDs) on void decks, including banning them outright for the sake of safety.
Dr Lam Pin Min said this in response to Murali Pillai, Member of Parliament (MP) for Bukit Batok SMC. Mr Pillai suggested that the Ministry of Transport (MOT) “take the lead” in collaborating with town councils for the purpose of designating void decks as areas solely for pedestrian use.
Mr Pillai had used the example of a 65-year-old woman who had to go to the hospital after she bumped into someone on an e-scooter when she was getting her mail at the void deck of Block 186 Bukit Batok West Avenue 6. The MP said that the rules set by town councils may not be a strong enough deterrent for people who use PMDs on void decks.
He also asked for stronger regulations from the MOT for void decks.
“The point is people in these areas would not be exercising the same caution as crossing roads.”
The Senior Minister of State for Transport explained in Parliament the three important points considered in designating a public area as a public path, whether shared or for pedestrians only.
“One which is safety, second, connectivity and thirdly, which is clarity of rules,” Dr Lam said.
He said that Void Decks do not fall under the Act because they have “multiple blind spots due to the presence of pillars”, are “not critical for connectivity” and are “easily demarcated” to avoid confusion, according to a report from Channel NewsAsia (CNA).
Therefore, the onus of rule-setting in such cases lies with the town councils (TC) themselves.
“As such, these provide TCs with the flexibility to set and enforce their own rules on the usage of activity mobility devices, according to your own needs.
So if the town council feels that, if void decks are areas where potential accidents can happen, then town councils can actually ban the use of PMDs at the void decks.”
Pritam Singh, the head of the Workers’ Party, also expressed concern for the senior citizens in his constituency (Aljunied GRC).
“We have an elderly population, it’s going to grow in the next 10 years, and I believe that if the ministry takes the lead, then you will have a lesser chance of untoward incidents happening,” said Mr Singh.
He said that the power of legislation would be stronger than having each town council formulating and implementing its rules and regulations and that the Active Mobility Act could be extended to cover the use of PMDs at void decks.
But Dr Lam answered by saying that since void decks are configured differently from one another, town councils should still continue to have the flexibility of choosing whether to forbid the usage of PMDs in their void decks or not.
“At the end of the day, we are cognisant of the fact that safety is paramount, and if the town council feels that the banning of PMD use at the void deck is necessary, then it can be done by the town council by-laws,” added Dr Lam.
MP Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) also asked what advice the Land Transport Authority (LTA) had to offer to senior citizens or children, who may find themselves in the way of swiftly-moving PMDs.
Dr Lam answered her that both the pedestrians and people using PMDs should exercise caution in areas that both share.
The Senior Minister of State for Transport said, “I think we just have to exercise graciousness, caution as well as to act responsibly when we share the use of common spaces such as footpaths and even in shared paths.”/TISG