“Every rider on a personal mobility device (PMD) broke the speed limit on the footpath. Every single one.”

That is what The Sunday Times saw at four locations over three days. The Sunday Times reported on July 7th 2019 entitled “PMDs: A new source of accidents. Speeding PMD riders: Too fast and too reckless” should raise alarm bells for every one using the walkways and footpaths — especially seniors.

Read this info graphics about “Dangers of Personal Mobility Device” and you will be shocked – it tells you what happens when you are hit by a speeding PMD. Here are three things you should know about being hit by a PMD travelling at above 15 km/h:

  • Unlikely you can stand still
  • Unlikely you have time to react
  • May bounce off the PMD and fall

The report also indicates that the force of being hit by a PMD at 25 km/h is likely similar to a 10 kg bag of rice dropped from the HDB 7th floor!

The good news is that the current LTA regulations states that PMDs can only go no faster the 25 km/h in shared-paths (which are normally found on Park Connector Network (PCN)) and 10 km/h on footpaths. The bad news, according to The Sunday Times investigative reporting, 100% of the PMDs on the footpaths and about 50% of those on the shared-paths that they observed at 4 locations over 3 days — broke the law.

The LTA has done a careful study on the use of PMD in Singapore and has been cautious, deliberate and transparent in seeking views from all parties before recommending the current regulation. The LTA should be applauded for trying to find a solution that allows both pedestrians and PMD riders to co-exist and share both footpaths and shared-paths. When the regulations were finalised, LTA launched an extensive education campaign for both pedestrians and PMD riders alike. The government has also invested millions in infrastructure to make it safe for the public. Of course, there is also enforcement and fines for those who flout the regulations.

But based on the above investigative reporting, it is not working. There were 228 accidents to-date reported in 2017/2018 involving PMDs – and of that, there were 196 (86%) involving some form of injuries. I am sure that there are probably many other near misses or minor accidents that may have gone unreported. Since PMD is increasingly the vehicle of choice for food delivery with riders carrying over sized warmer food bag, it only adds to the risk for more accidents.

If the original principle of “co-existence” is to have any chance of working in Singapore, the LTA has to act immediately after this shocking report. The strong public backlash towards e-scooters is happening in other countries. France will ban e-scooters from pavements in September. In Germany, e-scooters are banned from pavements unless expressly allowed. I encourage all seniors to write and share their thoughts about PMD safety with their Member of Parliament or LTA — just send them an email. The status quo is not working.

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