LTA’s decision to ban e-scooters from ALL footpath was a good but inevitable decision. It’s about time that the decision is made. For more than two years since the Active Mobility Act was passed in Parliament in February 2017 to allow the use of Personal Mobility Devices(PMDs) on public paths, pedestrians particularly the more vulnerable seniors and kids have been terrified by irresponsible PMD riders. Apart from the rising number of injuries resulting from PMDs, it has been grossly unfair to the millions of pedestrians to have to live in fear of PMDs going at high speeds even in void-decks and HDB estates. Here are things that the government can do more.
- The government may want to consider a mandatory training program for all users before they can operate any motorised PMD devices on public or shared paths. While public education is important, a mandatory training program will go along way to ensure that every PMD users is fully aware of the rules of the road (or in this case, the path).
- We should clearly mark areas that PMDs are allowed or not-allowed to be used. Currently, it is often not clear what devices are legally allowed on which paths. I like the idea of building more bike paths that PMDs can use but in the mean time, existing paths should be clearly signed to indicate what devices can legally be used.
- One of the frustrations faced by pedestrians is the fact that errant PMD riders face little consequences for their actions. If there is an accident, they can “escape” so quickly that you could not even take a decent photo with your smartphone. Furthermore, there are no markings on the PMDs to identify the riders. Due to lack of enforcement, errant PMDs who break speed laws also face little consequences for their actions. Clearly, there is a continuing need to step up enforcement of PMD regulations to make errant PMD riders accountable for their actions.
- Companies such as GRAB, FOOD PANDA or any delivery companies that use PMDs for commercial purpose should insure their contracted riders. Basically, the government should pass a law requiring such companies to have adequate third party liability insurance – the same as they do for their delivery vans and trucks.
- Even with mandated inspections, it is not difficult for PMD owners to revert to illegal modifications to boost speed and battery power – or even remove the speed limiter. The authorities should use a tamper-evident seal on the device to alert the inspectors of potential illegal modifications. Such modifications can be a fire hazard and also makes inspections somewhat meaningless.
- May be it is time to also consider helmet regulations for PMD users. Even at lower speeds, accidents involving PMDs can also cause severe injuries to the riders.
- Implement and enforce the rule that PMDs cannot be used to carry any passengers – especially small children. I have seen adults using PMDs to shuttle their kids to school in the morning. Not only is this dangerous but having a passenger on board also makes it more difficult for the rider to react in an adverse situation.
On one hand, PMD advocates argue that these devices are legitimate solutions to our transportation needs for the “last mile” – but on the other hand, there is a lot of resistance by the group to adopting more safety regulations. No, you cannot have it both ways! If after all this and PMDs continue to be a safety hazard to the public, (having had many close and dangerous encounters with PMDs) I would be the first to advocate a total and complete ban.