15 town councils to ban use of PMDs at void decks, common corridors: Lam Pin Min

Since May last year, LTA officers have detected over 4,900 active mobility offences and impounded over 2,100 non-compliant devices. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

SINGAPORE — Fifteen town councils have decided to ban the usage of personal mobility devices (PMDs) at void decks and common corridors, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min on Monday (5 August).

The move comes following a parliamentary discussion in May, during which several Members of Parliament (MPs) had called for a ban on PMDs in such spaces, given the number of accidents involving pedestrians.

Yahoo News Singapore understands that the individual town councils will have to take responsibility for enforcing the ban.

It is also understood that the 15 town councils involved are those administrated by the ruling People’s Action Party. The Workers’ Party-managed Aljunied-Hougang Town Council has been approached on the matter and is still mulling over whether to join in the ban.

Improving path safety, expanding infrastructure

During his Ministerial Statement, Lam revealed that $50 million will be set aside to expand the nation’s active mobility infrastructure plans and “expedite them in hotspots where accidents often occur”.

“We are setting aside a fund to tackle such hotspots, by making appropriate improvements such as widening footpaths, installing clear warning signs, and installing speed regulating strips on the paths to slow down PMD users,” said Lam, noting that there there are currently 90,000 registered e-scooters here and that the figure is expected to grow.

Among the steps to be taken will be a three-month trial undertaken by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to set up pedestrian-only zones (POZs) at the town centres in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Bukit Batok and Khatib, as well as at a neighbourhood centre in Tampines.

The measure comes following feedback received from town councils on the “high accident risks” in areas where the paths are lined with shops, said Lam. Within the POZs, PMD riders will be obligated to dismount and push their devices.

“If the concept of the POZ proves useful, we will roll it out to other towns islandwide,” said Lam.

The 49-year-old Sengkang West MP also revealed that the LTA has started a trial to implement School Zone markings along the footpaths outside some schools. These include the use of speed regulating strips, “SLOW” markings, and other visual cues to remind PMD riders to slow down and look out for other path users.

Works have been completed at the first trial site – Fern Green Primary School – and, by next month, the trial will be expanded to four other schools: Fengshan Primary, Jiemin Primary, Rivervale Primary and Yishun Secondary.

Other areas of infrastructure expansion include work being done in Ang Mo Kio, Singapore’s first “Walking and Cycling Town”. Within the area, road space along stretches at Streets 22, 41, 43, and 61 will be reclaimed to build cycling paths.

At the national level, the cycling path network will be expanded to 750km by 2025 and tripled by 2030.

Enforcement actions

Noting that “infrastructure alone is not enough”, Lam said that the LTA is looking to enlarge its enforcement team to about 200 officers by the end of this year. Their efforts will be supplemented by crowdsourced feedback obtained through the LTA’s new “Report PMD/PAB Incident” function within the MyTransport.SG app.

He noted that, since May last year, LTA officers have detected over 4,900 active mobility offences and impounded over 2,100 non-compliant devices.

While current enforcement efforts are manpower-intensive, the LTA will be looking to leverage on technology to boost its reach. For example, the LTA has started on an 18-month trial of mobile CCTVs at hotspot locations to see if video analytics software and radar technology can prove effective in detecting offences such as speeding.

Lam said that the LTA has also gone after retailers who display or sell PMDs that do not meet the UL2272 safety standard that has been set for devices here. “It is necessary to tackle non-compliant devices at the source,” he said, noting that the LTA has taken action against 12 PMD retailers to date.

On the topic of punishments for errant PMD users, Lam said the government is closely monitoring whether the current penalty regime is effective in deterring “errant riding behaviour”.

“We will enhance penalties if necessary,” he said. Lam also noted that a “landmark” case in February – in which an errant PMD rider was jailed seven weeks for knocking down and grievously hurting a pedestrian – would set a precedent for future cases.

Insurance, education efforts

Regarding insurance and compensation for PMD-related accidents, Lam said that the Active Mobility Advisory Panel (Amap) is studying the issue and will submit its findings later this year after consulting the relevant stake holders.

“We will likely start off by requiring PMD-sharing operators to have third-party liability insurance,” he said, noting that major food delivery businesses such as Deliveroo and GrabFood are already providing third-party liability insurance for their riders. FoodPanda also announced on Monday that it would start doing the same from next month, Lam added.

Lam said the LTA is also looking to intensify its educational efforts to improve PMD riding behaviour, noting that 600 sessions of the Safe Riding Programme have been conducted in the last three months and that, as of June, over 57,000 people have participated in it.

“We will continue to work with the community to develop a gracious and safe path-sharing culture. This includes over 1,000 volunteers who regularly patrol and share safe riding practices with their community,” he said.

In concluding his speech, Lam observed that the government has had a “year of experience regulating PMDs” and that it did “not expect any new tool’s introduction to be a rosy journey.”

“With all new technology, our regulatory regime has to be nimble and responsive. We will get the new measures in place quickly,” he said.

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