Parliament: Total ban of PMDs a possibility if users' behaviour does not improve, says Janil Puthucheary

The LTA is working with MPs to identify hot spots where something can be done quickly to improve safety, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A complete ban on the use of personal mobility devices (PMDs) in Singapore is a possibility if the behaviour of users does not improve.

The Government may have no choice but to do it, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary on Monday (Oct 7), as he urged users to be "extra responsible and mindful of others".

It is reviewing thoroughly its plans to improve the safe use of PMDs amid the rising number of accidents and fires linked to the devices, he added.

Speaking in Parliament, Dr Janil also said new HDB towns will have a clear separation of traffic, with pedestrians on footpaths, active mobility devices on dedicated paths for PMDs and bicycles, and motor vehicles on roads.

But existing towns do not have many dedicated paths for PMDs, he added.

The Land Transport Authority is taking steps to mitigate the situation.

It is working with MPs to identify hot spots where something can be done quickly to improve safety, said Dr Janil.

Measures being identified include widening footpaths and installing speed-regulating strips.

"We will also speed up development of dedicated paths for PMDs and bicycles," he added, but cautioned that such infrastructure improvements "will take time, even years".

"Meanwhile, we have to make a decision on where to allow PMDs to be used, other than on dedicated paths for PMDs and bicycles - on footpaths, or on roads, or not at all until the town is ready?"

Dr Janil was responding to three MPs, including Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC), following two recent deaths involving PMDs.

On Sept 24, a 30-year-old man died in hospital after he fell off his e-scooter in Tanah Merah Coast Road.

The next day, a 65-year-old woman, Madam Ong Bee Eng, died after she was seriously injured in an accident involving her bicycle and an e-scooter in Bedok on Sept 21.

Dr Janil offered the Government's condolences to Madam Ong's family, and said the PMD involved in the accident was used illegally.

It was bought online and did not comply with regulations, and its maximum speed was 80kmh. It was also not registered with the LTA.

The authorities cap PMD speeds at 25kmh on cycling paths or park connectors, and 10kmh on footpaths.

"Nevertheless, this accident has caused public alarm over the dangers that personal mobility devices (PMDs) pose to others, and heightened fears for the safety of pedestrians using footpaths, particularly the old and the young," he noted.

"We share Singaporeans' concerns... We are determined to improve footpath safety back to levels before PMDs were allowed onto footpaths."

He also said the number of accidents involving PMDs has been rising in line with the growing number of PMD users.

As the Government mulls over whether to continue letting PMDs be used on footpaths and cycling paths, "we strongly urge PMD users to be extra responsible and mindful of others".

The Transport Ministry will also revisit plans announced in August to strengthen public path safety and reduce PMD-related fire risks.

Dr Janil said his ministry is, among other things, studying possible additional measures.

The review is expected to be completed in about two months' time.

There were 228 reported accidents involving PMDs on public paths in 2017 and 2018, with 196 of them resulting in injuries.

Of these, there was one death - a PMD rider who skidded and died from his injuries.

There were 32 cases which involved major injuries, such as concussions or fractures.

PMDs can also be a fire hazard.

In the first half of this year, there were 49 fires related to PMDs - an average of about two a week - compared with 52 for the whole of last year.

In the past three months, there were at least eight residential fires linked to PMDs.

In the worst case this year, a 40-year-old man died after a fire at a Bukit Batok flat, where three burnt e-scooters were found.

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