When the authorities devise rules on paths, it is important to affirm that the walking facilities are the domain of pedestrians.
Walking off-road allows the mind to wander. Young children can play and explore while walking, which nurtures their curious minds.
People with reduced functional capacity and low situational awareness may walk unpredictably.
Walking is also a social activity that strengthens bonding between family and friends.
As walking movements are spontaneous and flexible, the law must not mandate defensive walking off-road.
When pedestrians graciously yield often to riders approaching them, they lose their right of way.
Will pedestrians retain the right to walk two abreast, pause abruptly for unexpected situations, pull shopping trolleys by their sides or use mobile devices?
Will vulnerable pedestrians still have the right to unconsciously gravitate towards the centre of a path? Will adults maintain the right to allow young children to trail behind or walk ahead of them, up to two arm-lengths away?
Pedestrians' rights must be clarified. The law must preserve and protect their rights by designating them as the main users of walking paths, and cyclists and users of personal mobility devices as guests.
Users of personal mobility aids are pedestrian-riders and must move at walking pace.
Riders must move at around walking pace when approaching pedestrians; path intersections, adjoining pedestrian refuges, bus stops and street crossings; and around bends, corners and blind spots.
Their duty of caution must not be displaced by the ringing of the bell.
Laws for riders must cover areas such as dangerous/reckless riding; alcohol- and drug-induced behaviour; safe following distance and buffer width; limitations on passengers, loads and trailers; use of mobile devices and umbrellas; parking restrictions; and protocols for crossings and accidents.
Non-assistive personal transporters with operating widths greater than 0.7m should not be allowed on a 1.5m path.
There should also be signs advising riders to be cautious on sections of the path that are unconducive, unfit or unsafe for riding.
Everyone is a pedestrian at some time or other. Pedestrian rights and safety must take priority on walking facilities.
Tan Lay Hoon (Ms)