Banning e-scooters won't address lack of graciousness

E-scooter user riding among pedestrians on the Helix Bridge in Marina Bay, on March 11, 2018.
E-scooter user riding among pedestrians on the Helix Bridge in Marina Bay, on March 11, 2018.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Recently, there have been calls for e-scooters to be banned here (Ban e-scooters until infrastructure is in place, by Mr Remesh Panicker, May 11; and Little need for PMDs in S'pore, by Dr Yik Keng Yeong, May 14).

Yes, a life lost is one too many.

I understand the calls for a ban on e-scooters, but will this really solve the problems we have today, which have been partly brought about by inconsiderate behaviour and a lack of graciousness? If we were to ban everything that has the potential to harm, the list will be never-ending.

Instead, rules have been introduced and enforcement efforts have been increased. Infrastructure has been developed and public education has been conducted such that these activities can exist but the damage caused will be minimised. The same has been done for e-scooters.

Globally, e-scooters have risen in popularity as a mode of transport.

E-scooters are an attractive mode of transport to those looking to ditch their cars, and as a first-and-last-mile form of travel to complement our public transport. They are also environmentally friendly.

To effect a ban now would have repercussions on the segment of the population that is using PMDs as a way of life. These are considerations that the Government has to weigh and trade off.

In an ideal world, there would be separate paths for different users. But land is scarce in Singapore and, so, we will have to learn to share. All e-scooter users have a responsibility to other path users to show more consideration, slow down and be gracious when sharing paths.

The policy to allow the use of e-scooters and bicycles on footpaths is still fairly new. The Active Mobility Act was enacted only over a year ago and, as with any new policy, there is a period of adjustment.

That is why policymakers have to continuously monitor the situation and further fine-tune policies where necessary.

This is also where the Active Mobility Advisory Panel comes in, to monitor the ground situation, engage various stakeholders and make recommendations on changes that are necessary to ensure that active mobility can be encouraged in a safe manner in Singapore.

Steven Lim Soo Huat

Active Mobility Advisory Panel (Member)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2019, with the headline 'Banning e-scooters won't address lack of graciousness'. Print Edition | Subscribe