Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said in Parliament on Monday (5 August) that 15 town councils under the People’s Action Party (PAP) will ban individuals from riding personal mobility devices (PMDs) at void decks and common corridors.
In a ministerial statement, Dr Lam explained that the ban on PMDs at void decks and common corridors was decided after discussing with the 15 PAP-run town councils.
In an attempt to lessen PMD-related accidents here, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is all set to implement a three-month trial of pedestrian-only zones (POZs) in certain town councils and double its enforcement team on the ground to 200 officers by end of 2019, said the Minister.
In addition, the LTA will also be working with other town councils to start a three-month trial of POZs within the town centres in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Bukit Batok and Khatib, as well as at a neighbourhood centre in Tampines. It is said that in the marked POZs, PMD riders will have to dismount and push their devices.
On the other hand, TODAY reported that Aljunied-Hougang Town Council, which is run by the Workers’ Party, is still thinking whether to implement the ban in their estates.
If these trials become a success, then Dr Lam said POZs will be implemented at all town centres in the city-state.
The idea to implement POZs came following growing concerns among pedestrians over the use of PMDs and a series of accidents involving the device.
In May, the PAP town councils also seriously considered to ban the device, as they relook their by-laws to bring these in step with legislation that handles such equipment on public paths.
Dr Lam recognises these concerns and said, “I have often asked myself whether we would be better off banning PMDs whenever I read of accidents involving PMDs.”
However, he went on further to point out that there were calls to ban bicycles from footpaths a few years ago, but after in-depth public education and infrastructural improvements, people have now accepted bicycles in the country.
“Similarly, a PMD is just a machine. It is the rider who decides whether it is beneficial or detrimental to our lives. I am convinced that Singaporeans can be taught to use PMDs responsibly, as they have with bicycles. I am confident that we can bring about the safe sharing of paths with PMD,” Dr Lam noted.
Below are other upgrades and trials that the LTA will be rolling out in an attempt to reduce PMD accidents, which was announced by Dr Lam.
Upgrades on infrastructure
- S$50 million will be allocated to expedite improvements in accident-prone areas for PMDs. This would include widening of footpaths, installing clear warning signs and speed regulating strips on paths.
- Road space will be reclaimed along four stretches in Ang Mo Kio in order to build cycling paths where sidewalks are not big enough. The works for this will be done in three years times.
- The current 440km cycling paths in the island will also be expanded to 750km by 2025, and the cycling network tripled by 2030.
- In more advanced neighbourhoods, car lanes will be reclaimed to make way for these expanded cycling paths.
Safety marking in school areas
- The LTA will be putting out School Zone markings along footpath outside certain schools. Some of the markings include speed regulating strips, “SLOW” marking and better visual cues in the area to ask PMD users to slow down. These measures have already been introduced at Fern Green Primary School and will be rolled out at four other schools — Fengshan Primary School, Jiemin Primary School, Rivervale Primary School and Yishun Secondary School — by next month.
- The move to implement the scheme at other schools will be based on the success rate of these measures at these five schools.
Upon reading this move, netizens commented on TODAY’s Facebook page saying that the enforcement has to be strong, or else it will be of no use. This is because without proper and stricter enforcement, all the efforts made by the Government will seem like an empty talk as riders will still be seen riding on void decks and common corridors.
Others said that the Government is only reacting to events and issues after it has become this serious. Instead of reacting, the Government should plan thoroughly and seek real feedback on policies in order to avoid such problems in the future. Others slammed the Government as they were the one who brought PMDs into Singapore without compatible infrastructure, and now they’re the one who is banning it.
Others expressed that void decks and common corridors are not exactly hazard places since riders can’t really go fast at these areas. As such, they pointed out that the ban should be done at other areas like large roads, park connectors, sidewalks and pedestrian footpaths.