Blanket ban not the solution to PMD conflict

A man on an electric scooter riding along Old Airport Road on Feb 4, 2018.
A man on an electric scooter riding along Old Airport Road on Feb 4, 2018.PHOTO: ST FILE

The active mobility movement is arguably one of the greatest steps forward in commuting in Singapore since the inception of the MRT.

Personal mobility devices (PMDs) have enabled a major part of the instant delivery workforce, and allowed the young and old, able and mobility-challenged, to move around in an affordable and environmentally friendly manner.

PMDs have an estimated fuel efficiency of 20 cents of electricity for 40km of travel. No alternative mode of transport comes close.

I know of many who were formerly opposed to PMDs, but after experiencing them and understanding the pros and cons, have become advocates of the movement.

This "ban this because it upsets me" mentality in Singapore is a cause for concern and I wonder if we are becoming a zero-tolerance society.

Conflicts cannot be resolved with blind retaliation. People emotionally caught up in the PMD debate forget that nobody wants to be in an accident, including the party who caused it.

Conflicts in shared commuting spaces often arise due to a lack of awareness and when one prioritises his needs over others. Management of these factors is critical to a well-functioning society, but these are also the areas that are most challenging for laws to control and enforce.

PMD issues, similar to conflicts in other transport modes, stem from the lack of mindfulness in a few. Therefore, the proper treatment should be legislation focusing on promoting awareness, mindfulness and accountability, rather than blanket bans or further limitations.

Social graces never happened overnight. Give the law and public education efforts time to properly bear fruit.

In many countries, pedestrians co-exist harmoniously with other commuting devices, so why can't we? Even if our infrastructure is perfect, a lack of awareness, care and responsibility in our society would continue to cause conflicts.

James Tan

SEE OPINION: PMDs are here to stay. It's time to get used to them

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2019, with the headline 'Blanket ban not the solution to PMD conflict'. Print Edition | Subscribe