On 12 November, over 300 food-delivery riders turned up at Anchorvale Community Centre for a meet-the-people session with Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Lam Pin Min to talk about the recent ban on personal mobility devices being used on footpaths which has affected the livelihood of many people.
The session was moved from Anchovale Link at the last minute to accommodate the larger crowd, some of whom turned up with their PMDs, hoping to change the government’s stance on the ban.
Just last Monday (4 November), Dr Lam announced the ban in Parliament, noting that it follows France’s move to prohibit the riding of e-scooters on its pavements after a high number of accidents involving such devices, several of which were fatal.
Dr Lam added in Parliament that the Government had expected PMD users to “be gracious and responsible” with “public education” on the responsible use of such devices, despite possible challenges facing the co-sharing of footpaths with pedestrians.
“Unfortunately, this was not so,” he lamented. He stated that “cities have allowed the use of such devices on footpaths” initially “as they are non-pollutive, inexpensive and, if properly used, convenient for short intra-town travels”.
Following the session with PMD riders last night, Dr Lam wrote on his Facebook page about the ‘frank discussion’, saying that “there is no perfect solution”. He noted that the decision to ban PMDs from being used on footpaths was to restore the safety of “the majority of Singaporeans”.
Noting the grants provided by GrabFood for riders to switch to alternative devices, Dr Lam said that “those with unique circumstances can also go to their respective MPs to have their issues looked into”.
According to TODAY who spoke to several attendees at the session, they said that Dr Lam went into detail of the S$7 million trade-in assistance programme to help riders switch out their PMDs with power-assisted bicycles or e-bikes without added costs to the riders themselves.
This programme was announced last Friday, a collaboration between the government and three major food delivery companies in Singapore: Foodpanda, GRabFood and Deliveroo.
The programme will provide a grant of up to S$1,000 per person to help existing delivery riders with one of the three companies to trade-in their PMDs for an alternative device, be it an e-bike or a regular bicycle.
Mr Lam continued in his post, “Most people who came down today had genuine reasons to be there – except for a member of an opposition party who came to politicise the issue and stoke the emotions of those present. Such actions are irresponsible and abhorrent.”
He added, “They do not benefit anyone, and distracted us from the main objective of giving the PMD riding community support during this period and helping them to understand that there is help available for them.”
The member of the opposition present was Mr Goh Men Seng, Secretary-General of the People’s Power Party. According to TOC’s correspondent on the scene, Mr Goh had shouted at Lam and the exchange between the two distracted the dialogue from its original purpose.
Mr Goh had reportedly asked Dr Lam why the government did not ban cars given that there were many car accidents, prompting Dr Lam to rebut his remarks.
Concluding his Facebook post, Dr Lam said, “As we move forward from here, I hope that pedestrians can also spare a thought for responsible PMD riders and keep to footpaths where possible, and for PMD riders to also play their part and look out for pedestrians.”
He added, “Graciousness is a two-way street, and key in a society that is learning to grapple with disruptive technologies in our lives. Only by looking out for one another can we overcome our current challenges and realise our original vision of active mobility.”