SINGAPORE - Pedestrians will not be policed based on how they walk under the new pedestrian code of conduct.
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Baey Yam Keng told The Straits Times last Friday (Aug 7) that the code was meant to raise awareness and build a gracious culture.
"The purpose of the code of conduct for pedestrians is not deterrence; we do not intend to police how people walk," he said.
"The Highway Code, similarly, sets out certain norms to guide pedestrians on safe behaviour, such as how to cross roads safely."
He was commenting on the issue after the introduction of the code drew controversy. Some pedestrians have expressed worries the code will water down their rights on footpaths while others insist the onus should be on cyclists and users of personal mobility devices to ride safely.
Mr Baey said focus group sessions held by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP) in the last two years had found that it was common to spot pedestrians and device users "glued to their phones and unaware of their surroundings".
He said he has also observed inconsiderate device users who choose to ride on footpaths, even when cycling paths are available, or fail to dismount their bike or slow down if they enter a crowded space.
"Such behaviour puts everyone else at risk on paths," he said.
The Transport Ministry, after taking into account AMAP's recommendations, decided to expand the code of conduct for path users to include pedestrians.
Mr Baey noted that the code offers safety tips, and was meant to be simple and intuitive.
"For example, the guideline encouraging pedestrians to keep left on footpaths mirrors common practice today where users keep left on escalators," he said.
"The basic principle is that everyone should play their part and look out for one another to stay safe in these common spaces."
He said that most people "already have good common sense" and take reference from official guidelines.
In response to suggestions that separate paths could be built for cyclists and pedestrians, Mr Baey said that there is "just not enough space in Singapore to build distinct paths for different users".
"Nevertheless, with the right foundation for a gracious active mobility culture, we can make more spaces in our neighbourhoods and city a safer and friendlier place to walk, cycle and ride in together," he added.