2 in 5 Singaporeans want complete ban on PMDs: survey

An undated photo of Ong Bee Eng (left) and a non-compliant PMD. (PHOTOS: Chinfung Ko, LTA/Facebook)
An undated photo of Ong Bee Eng (left) and a non-compliant PMD. (PHOTOS: Chinfung Ko, LTA/Facebook)

SINGAPORE — Two in five Singaporeans call for a complete ban on personal mobility devices (PMDs) following the recent spate of related accidents, a survey has found.

Findings released on Tuesday (8 October) from a study by UK-based research firm YouGov showed those who disagree with a ban and those who are undecided were almost split evenly at 29 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively.

The study found that older Singaporeans, aged 55 and above, reported being more averse to PMDs than younger Singaporeans aged 18 to 24: half of older Singaporeans want PMDs banned, in contrast with over a quarter of younger Singaporeans.

Two-thirds of Singaporeans think that PMDs should be restricted to people with mobility issues.

(SOURCE: YouGov Omnibus)
(SOURCE: YouGov Omnibus)

‘Dangerous’ device

The study also found that three in five Singaporeans classify PMDs as “dangerous”, with close to half ranking the device as the most dangerous mode of transport among options presented in the survey.

49 per cent of respondents ranked it as the most dangerous mode of transport, ahead of cars in second place at 19 per cent.

11 per cent found motorbikes dangerous, followed by electric bicycles (9 per cent), skateboard (7 per cent), kick scooters (3 per cent) and pedal bicycles (2 per cent).

The majority (73 per cent) of respondents agree that PMDs should be allowed on specified lanes, with 19 per cent each stating that the devices should be on footpaths or public roads, while 16 per cent think they should not be allowed anywhere.

According to findings, only one in 20 currently owns a PMD, with men three times more likely than women to own one.

“PMDs are a controversial topic at the moment, and something that clearly has Singaporeans divided. Whether an altogether ban or restrictions placed on use, many people want something to be done about PMDs – which will hopefully prevent fatalities happening again in future,” said Jake Gammon, Head of Omnibus APAC at YouGov Omnibus.

The survey polled 1,116 Singaporeans via YouGov’s Omnibus online research service from 3 to 4 October, a week after a 65-year-old cyclist, Ong Bee Eng, succumbed to her injuries following a collision with an e-scooter. Authorities later announced that the PMD was non-compliant.

Ong’s death led to a surge in signatories for a six-month-old petition on Change.org calling for the ban of PMDs and electric bicycles. The number of signatures surged to over 67,600 as of Tuesday evening, from about 21,000, after her death was reported on 25 September.

Footpath safety

On Monday, Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Transport, said in Parliament that the government may have “no choice” but to ban the usage of such devices in Singapore, if the behaviour of PMD users does not improve.

PMDs, as well as bicycles or power-assisted bicycles, were banned from void decks and all common areas of 15 housing estates last month.

“We need footpaths to be safe for pedestrians again,” Dr Janil said, adding that the government will be revisiting its plans on public path safety to see where it needs to rethink its approach and possibly introduce new measures. He had asked for “one or two months” for his ministry to conduct a thorough review on the matter.

A total of 228 accidents involving PMDs on public paths were reported in 2017 and 2018. Of these accidents, 196 cases involved injuries.

Separately, on Monday, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced that it will be scheduling mandatory inspections for UL2272-certified e-scooters registered before 1 April 2020 at “no cost to existing owners”.

From 1 April next year, all new e-scooters will have to pass the inspection before they can be registered for use on public paths.

All non-UL2272-certified e-scooters will be automatically deregistered from 1 July 2020, which is the deadline for mandatory UL2272 compliance for e-scooters used on public paths.

E-scooters that are UL2272-certified but do not comply with the weight, width and speed requirements during inspection will also have their registration cancelled by the LTA.

Those who fail to send their devices for inspection by 1 April next year are liable to be fined up to $1,000, jailed up to three months, or both, if convicted. It is also an offence to ride an unregistered e-scooter on a public path. First-time offenders face a fine of up to $5,000, a jail term of up to three months, or both.

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