Evolution of active mobility in S'pore is encouraging

A man wearing a safety helmet rides his electric scooter at Marina Barrage.
A man wearing a safety helmet rides his electric scooter at Marina Barrage. PHOTO: ST FILE

The authorities have been taking some flak for the disruption being caused by personal mobility devices (PMDs).

But they are actually doing a good job of balancing emerging technology, the needs and wants of diametrically opposed groups of people, the use of current infrastructure and resources, and planning for a future vision of transportation within Singapore.

I believe that the hard infrastructure for PMDs is well in place. When Singapore becomes car-lite, there will be road and other resources that can be readily allocated for micro-mobility use.

Meanwhile, technology in PMDs is developing rapidly, so it is a wise move not to expend resources to develop PMD-specific infrastructure that may not be usable by future devices.

Allowing the use of PMDs is not a mistake. As with any new idea, the pains of adoption are unfortunate but necessary.

There is a big ongoing effort to bring various users of off-road infrastructure together.

A key initiative is the Land Transport Authority's (LTA) Safe Riding Programme (SRP), which has rapidly evolved. It has not only led to tens of thousands being educated, but also, more importantly, sparked spin-offs, including institutional collaborations such as Deliveroo-LTA and the GrabWheels trial e-scooter service at the National University of Singapore, to name a few.

This has been an evolutionary process, and the movement is spreading as LTA welcomes everyone (pedestrian, cyclist, PMD rider or motorist) to attend the SRP, and thus start the meeting of minds.

Further, the rules and culture of shared off-road infrastructure are being rolled out at a meaningful proactive and evolutionary pace, and not solely on the basis of reacting to incidents and complaints.

My take is that Singaporeans are not as polarised as it may appear. There begins a thread of commonality on the issue of PMDs.

I, for one, look forward to this movement of balanced needs for all, and a common understanding.

Colin Koh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2019, with the headline 'Evolution of active mobility in S'pore is encouraging'. Print Edition | Subscribe