Varied types of users make regulating PMDs tough

Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah said: "For pedestrians, the dream of car-lite Singapore has become a nightmare". While I sympathise with the victims of accidents, I do not feel like my experience as a pedestrian is a nightmare (Regulate e-scooters, review bike-sharing: It's about time; March 9).

The problem with regulating e-scooters and bicycles is that the types of users are too varied.

Helmet-wearing riders are able to negotiate car-filled roads on devices that go at 35kmh. Children are much safer going at 15kmh on pavements. The elderly who use personal mobility devices instead of electric wheelchairs are hardly hell raisers.

Then, there are the workers affected by the push to decentralise workplaces.

It was reported that 11 personal mobility device (PMD) users were caught riding on the road in Loyang Drive in a span of two hours (38 caught riding PMDs on roads since start of year; Jan 16).

Loyang Drive is an industrial estate in a remote part of Singapore. Could it be that these workers were let down by poor public transport options and pavements unsuitable for PMDs?

Behaviours and norms need to be different for the various users.

Regulating bike-sharing is also not so straightforward.

A unique characteristic of the bike-sharing model is that everyone involved, and even those not involved, can behave badly.

Who is to say whether it was a rider or a bystander who threw a bicycle into a drain?

A $100 folding bicycle grant is a good idea, but what is to stop sellers of such bikes from just increasing all prices by $100?

A limit on the fleet size of each company is set to be enacted soon Will this quota be equal among all the companies, both old and new?

While the issue of the externalised cost of shared bicycles has been raised, the externalised benefits have not been equally mentioned.

Shared bikes alleviate the burden on the feeder bus system.

A study of the usage patterns of these bikes also gives us data on last-mile connections and could show areas where the public transport system needs improving.

It is important to consider other dimensions of the transport situation here and present more balanced and real views.

Sng Woei Shyong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2018, with the headline 'Varied types of users make regulating PMDs tough'. Print Edition | Subscribe