Since Parliament there have been 90 accidents involving

Since January 15 this year, the LTA has put stiffer
regulations on personal mobility devices (PMDs), such as increasing the fine
for first time offenders to $300-500 as compared to the previous fine of $100.
Personal mobility devices, such as electric scooters and hoverboards, are now a
common sight in Singapore. One reason for the popularity of such devices is due
to the rise in popularity of food delivery services (such as Deliveroo and WhyQ)
where a driver’s licence is unnecessary for a PMD user as compared to a
motorcyclist. Another reason would be the natural convenience that such devices
bring their owner, especially when the sheer thought of walking under Singapore’s
blazing sun causes one to sweat. However, with the passing of the Active
Mobility Bill, PMDs have been causing trouble on both pedestrian pathways and
on the roads. Transport minister Mr Khaw Boon Wan has told Parliament there have
been 90 accidents involving electric bicycles and PMDs in the first half of
last year which resulted in four deaths and approximately 90 injuries. However,
what are the reasons behind these accidents?   

One of the reasons is that some PMD users do not dismount in
public or crowded places, thus acting as a hazard for pedestrians. While PMD
users are allowed on footpaths and park connectors, with the pedestrians having
the right of way, this is hard to enforce as pathways in Singapore can be
narrow, and pedestrians must often dive out of the way of PMDs coming through. For
example, a Singaporean man rode his electric scooter into a tourist at
Chinatown MRT station on January 26. The tourist had just exited the train
station when the scooter collided into her from behind. Despite encouragement
to dismount in places of high crowd density, PMD users could still find it more
convenient to remain on their vehicles and simply exercise more caution. This
is relatable as I have experienced the dilemma of dismounting from my bicycle
at a pedestrian crossing (cyclists should dismount and push their bicycles)
when it is much easier to simply cycle across the crossing.    

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Another reason would be that some PMD users ride on the road,
as can be seen from the viral video of a man riding his e-scooter down the
Pan-Island Expressway. This is very dangerous, especially as PMD users are not
required to know the highway code or obtain a licence to own their vehicles.
Hence, they might be unused to or unaware of the road safety rules. Many people
have taken to social media to vent their frustration and call for these PMDs to
be banned from the roads- without knowing that the ban has already been put in
place. This shows that people at large are confused towards the law regarding
PMDs, possibly because the law is new, and could also be due to the law itself.
For example, electric bicycles are allowed on roads, however, other PMDs are
not. Another example would be that PMDs can be “used in limited instances on roads such as to avoid an obstacle on a
footpath or when crossing a road”. This law is not clear-cut about whether PMDs
are allowed on roads and fluctuates based on circumstance, and as such people
turn to their own gut senses to determine whether they are in clear. For
example, a man riding his e-scooter on the pavement could find his path
obstructed by recycling bins and thus switch to the minor road within an area
of landed housing. However, as he is now riding on the road, the natural
progression of things would be to continue riding into a major road.

With more than 480 PMDs impounded over the course of last
year, both the government and food delivery companies have taken steps to
educate the public on road safety. For example, the LTA has started a Safe
Riding Programme to combine theory and practice in a training circuit in order
to let cyclists and PMD users experience dealing with different situations. The
programme will be conducted at schools, migrant worker dormitories, and
community clubs, among other places. On the other hand, Deliveroo has made an
online safety programme compulsory for all its riders in order to ensure that
its riders meet minimum safety standards. WhyQ even has a training session with
experienced riders for new riders in order for them to learn the ropes, with
random checks on the conditions of the riders’ electric scooters to make sure that
proper maintenance has been taking place. In conclusion, I feel that the issue
of rule-breaking PMD users will be solved in time, as rules become more refined
and information spreads through word of mouth. I believe that PMD users must
educate themselves regarding PMD laws in order to avoid causing harm to themselves
and others.