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Errant riders tested limits of tolerance

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The decision to ban electric scooters from footpaths is an example of the need to act when social practices fail to evolve with technological advances. It is not a total ban. It means that e-scooters will be confined to 440km of cycling paths islandwide, instead of the 5,500km of footpaths the riders could use earlier. However, the difference between these two numbers reveals the stringency of the measure, which was announced in Parliament on Monday and came into effect the day after. The ban was required because of a rise in accidents that endangered the safety of pedestrians, whose rights should outweigh those of users of powered devices on footpaths. That primacy has been upheld with the ban.

It is not wrong to have allowed e-scooters on footpaths in the first place. Connectivity is an important economic and social consideration in a nation that has progressed by creating the physical infrastructure necessary for growth. Indeed, the judicious management of the transport infrastructure has been critical to economic development. The avoidance of the kind of traffic jams that have become an everyday feature of some other cities is a case in point. Personal mobility devices (PMDs) were an incremental addition to the transport options available, and attested to the evolution of connectivity made possible by technology. PMDs are ecologically friendly contributors to the goal of a car-lite society, offering commuters a viable option for first-and last-mile trips.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2019, with the headline Errant riders tested limits of tolerance. Subscribe