The Active Mobility Advisory Panel's recommendations on sharing paths risk repurposing pedestrian facilities and redefining the walking experience ("Code of conduct puts pedestrians' safety first"; March 18).
Shared paths are an extension of a car-centric mindset, as they take space from pedestrians to avoid inconveniencing motorists.
Conditioned by car-centric road policies, our community ignores the fact that our roads are usually under-utilised, except during peak hours, especially within HDB estates, and that it is possible to reclaim road space for use by users of non-assistive personal transporters (NPTs), such as bicycles and electric scooters.
Transiting to a car-lite community involves inconveniencing motorists to nudge them towards active transportation. It provides the rationale to rezone roads to offer a dedicated safe space for NPT users to travel almost as efficiently as motorists.
Meaningful progress towards a car-lite vision is made when roads are realigned to reallocate land for surface transportation equitably for different travel modes.
The panel's proposal for pedestrians to cope with users of different NPTs moving at varied speeds and with dissimilar movements weakens the cause for walking, an integral part of active transportation. Endangering pedestrians will likely cause people to lose interest in walking, one of two main modes of active mobility, and sets back the purpose of sustainable living to reduce carbon footprint.
If the Ministry of Transport is committed to preserving and protecting the rights and privileges of pedestrians, then it should consider:
- Reclaiming space from roads islandwide to build a dedicated door-to-door riding network;
- Allowing some pedestrian paths to temporarily host certain NPT users as transient guests, with a caveat that the ruling aims to provide an interim safe, but not expeditious, passage;
- Revising the recommended code of conduct to fully address pedestrians' safety concerns, and render it legally binding;
- Directing the Land Transport Authority to lead, coordinate and perhaps partially fund the efforts of other public agencies (including town councils and grassroots organisations) to effectively take enforcement action against errant motorcyclists and NPT users; and
- Launching a state fund to compensate pedestrians who are injured by NPT users and motorcyclists who ride on pedestrian facilities, and NPT users who are injured while trying to avoid pedestrians.
Tan Lay Hoon (Ms)