Over 11,000 netizens have signed a petition urging the Government to reverse the latest ban on the use of Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs) on footpaths, in the span of 24 hours. Following a spate of PMD-related accidents, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min announced in Parliament yesterday (4 Nov) that all e-scooters will be banned from public footpaths.
The ban, which went into effect today (5 Nov), now only allows e-scooter riders to use their PMDs on cycling and park connector network paths. The Land Transport Authority (LTA), a statutory board under the Ministry of Transport, will issue a warning to those who flout the ban between 5 Nov to 31 Dec – a grace period during which the Government will waive heftier penalties as PMD riders adjust to the ban.
From 1 Jan 2020, those caught riding e-scooters on public footpaths will face fines of up to $2,000 and/or imprisonment of up to three months.
The sudden ban has led to some PMD-riders ‘panic selling’ their e-scooters on online marketplaces. Others, however, are urging the Government to reverse the ban. A petition on change.org asking the authorities to allow PMD riders to continue using public footpaths has garnered over 11,000 signatures in a day.
Lamenting the sudden nature of the ban, the petition claims that the news startled the “90,000+ strong PMD community in Singapore” and will negatively impact PMD users:
“The 90,000+ strong PMD community in Singapore received some unexpected news of an immediate ban on the use of PMDs on footpaths in Singapore starting Nov 5th 2019 as announced by MP Lam Pin Min in Parliament on Nov 4th 2019.
“This footpath ban is essentially a de facto ban on the use of PMDs. The bike paths and PCNs are not continuous and it does not connect point to point. Limiting the use of PMDs to bike paths and PCNs is equivalent to letting someone use the bathroom but banning the use of the toilet bowls.
“Banning them on footpaths and not giving viable alternatives will essentially wipe out any practical use of PMDs and along with it, the source of income for many Singaporeans.
“The ban was announced on Nov 4th to be implemented on Nov 5th. There was no warning or viable alternatives for riders dependent on PMDs. In many areas, there are no bike paths or PCNs. There is only footpath or road.
“MP Lam Pin Min mentioned Singapore is following in the footsteps of other countries like France, but he failed to mention that in France, while eScooters are banned on footpaths, they are allowed to ride on roads up to 20km/h.
“While the government is making efforts to build more cycling paths and PCNs, until then what are the alternatives for PMD riders. Riding on the grass? Or like the cyclists, perhaps limitations to the left of the road?
“Without the use of PMDs, the thousands of delivery riders (Grabfood, food panda, deliveroo etc.) will have their main sources of income cut off. Most of the time, riding a motorbike or bicycle are not viable for them because the distances they cover are too great for bicycles and a vast majority of them do not have a motorbike license nor can shell out to get one.
“There will be a lot of people affected: Mothers who ferry their kids on PMDs, food delivery riders who deliver your food, tens of thousands of commuters who rely on PMDs everyday for their office commute etc.
“Please help us petition the Singapore Government to PMD usage on footpaths or roads until which time the PCNs and bike paths are more accessible and cover a wider area.”
In an update, Siti Binte Rahimat – the organiser of the petition – added: “Within 24 hours, we have gathered over 11,000 concerned citizens over this issue. We believe that this ban and how it was implemented truly needs to be re-looked.
“The implications of this hastened regulatory ban is devastating to a group of minorities – PMD users, their friends and families. Is it fair to take away the rights of these minorities? We urge LTA and the Members of Parliament to reconsider this ban of PMDs on footpaths.”
Asserting that the ban will “severely affect” the thousands of delivery riders who work for organisations like Foodpanda, Deliveroo, and Grab Food, Siti said:
“There are approximately 15,000 – 25,000 delivery riders in Singapore at this moment. (source: from Telegram Rider Groups). Effectively with this ban, MP Lam Pin Min, has increased the unemployment rate of Singapore by 0.3 – 0.5% overnight.
“As Singapore’s economy continues to show dismal results (source: CNA Singapore’s 2019 growth forecast slashed to 0.6%), there will be even lesser jobs for Singaporeans. This unexpected move by MP Lam Pin Min will do little to help Singapore’s move towards helping the unemployed.
“For Singaporeans who solely rely on their PMDs for a living, the effects would be even more direct and devastating. An average rider can earn approximately $2,000 – $3,000 a month.(source: https://blog.seedly.sg/food-delivery-riders-grabfood-foodpanda-deliveroo-earns/). An honest day’s wage for a hardworking delivery rider, which is more than enough to feed his/her family. With this overnight ban, the 15,000 – 25,000 riders cannot help but feel at lost.
“I have at least 5 personal friends who rely on their daily wages by being a delivery driver. They might not know how to put food on the table by the end of this week. Is this how the government treats its citizens? Many innocent families and livelihoods are going through chaos because of this.
“The suggested solution using bicycles as deliveries are not feasible. With a bicycle, the average delivery rider can reasonably complete 4 – 5 deliveries a day, given that they require rest in between their deliveries. Whereas with the PMD, almost no rest is required between deliveries. An average delivery rider can complete 15 – 20 deliveries a day. For those of you who think that bicycles are a viable alternative, imagine if you were to take a 75% pay cut. Would you still be doing the same job?”
She added that the ban will also impact families who rely on e-scooters for transportation. Siti asserted that these families save “approximately $100 – $600 per month” using e-scooters and that these savings are “substantial to a lower-middle income family.”
While the ban does not apply to the disabled or the elderly who use Personal Mobility Aids (PMAs), Siti also claimed that the ban would impact this group since “PMDs are a solution for those that cannot use PMAs.” She added: “Although not a large group, we should still consider about their needs and how to work towards an inclusive society.”
Asking whether the Government is treating the PMD community fairly, Siti said: “LTA has been progressively strengthening regulations and controls to ensure that PMDs are safer for users and non-users alike. After all the expenses incurred by users to follow these regulations, the government has decided to implement the ban within 1 day of the announcement.
“Furthermore, we heard only recently heard the announcement in May 2019, “No plans to ban PMDs on footpaths: Ministry of Transport”. Here we are 6 months later, with an IMMEDIATE ban on PMDs on footpaths. What can we say of this reaction from the Singapore government? Are we supposed to expect similar actions in the future?”
Siti also proposed the following solutions to deal with errant PMD users without imposing a ban on PMD use on footpaths:
“1. Continued tuning of regulations and control measures for PMDs on footpaths or roads
“We have seen progress from the above regulation implementation. The implementation of UL2272 certification has greatly reduced incidents of PMDs catching fire. In fact, there are ZERO reported incidents on UL2272 PMDs catching fire.
“We have been reaping the benefits of PMDs in terms of increasing employment, becoming more efficient in last-mile solutions and even cost savings for family transportation. Implementing a ban would erase all the work that we have collectively done.
“In the long term, improve on infrastructure as a whole to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, PMD-users, motorists, etc. This is currently already happening.
“In the short term, increase controls and accountability via licensing and educational awareness programs. PMD users are willing to go for a course/certification so that they will be better informed as a user, as well as safe to other non-users.
“2. Increasing Age Limit and Compulsory Insurance
“Another solution to increase accountability is via an increased age limit, as seen for measure to reduce smoking prevalence in Singapore. To add on, a compulsory insurance policy should be implemented for all PMD users. This will cover any unfortunate incidents for both PMD users and non-users.”
Read the appeal in full HERE.