After Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Lam Pin Min announced an overnight ban of electric scooters on all footpaths in Singapore last Monday (4 November), it resulted in instant disappointment, especially among those who use the device as their livelihood tool like food delivery workers.
As such, more than 300 food-delivery riders turned up at Anchorvale Community Centre on Tuesday evening (12 November) for a meet-the-people session with Dr Lam to talk him about the ban and hoped to change the government’s stance on the ban.
Dr Lam also took to his Facebook later that evening to highlight about the “frank discussion” he had with the riders, saying that “there is no perfect solution”. He noted the decision to ban Personal Mobility Devices (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 delivery riders switch out their PMDs with power-assisted bicycles or e-bikes without added costs to the riders themselves.
The programme, which is a collaboration between the government and three major food delivery companies in Singapore, 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.
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.”
What about parents?
Although the government is now coming up with ways to help affected PMD riders, particularly with the new S$7 million trade-in assistance programme, but they seem to have forgotten about parents who use PMDs to send their children to school.
This is because many of them use PMDs as it is cheaper to be owned compared to a car and it takes a lot faster to send their kids to school, especially during peak hours.
Commenting in a PMD parents Telegram group which has over 300 members and rising, many affected parents vent their frustration over the ban.
A man by the name Wan said that he purchased a Fiido UL2272 certified e-scooter on installment last month for his wife so the family could save up on taxi fares, and the wife can also earn some extra pocket money for herself. However, he noted that the ban had made him go into debt overnight, and affected his relationship with his wife.
“Govt steps are ruining family relations, putting us in debt, I had been so depressed lately,” he said.
Another mother named Tina Sutina said that she uses her PMD to send her child to school because if she uses a bus, she needs to switch to two different buses and walk a distance after that.
Given that she is working just as a cleaner, she said that she does not have the energy to commute back and forth on a bicycle between work and her child’s school. Plus, she also works as a Grab rider in the evening. “So now you telling me if I use is it ok is u are on my shoe and ride a bicycle my daily day repeat and repeat?” she lamented.
Writing in the comment section of Dr Lam’s Facebook post, a netizen by the name Tracy Tan highlighted that it’s tough raising kids in Singapore and the recent ban is making it tougher for them. “Why make it tough on us? School bus fares are not regulated, they charge ridiculous amounts. Pick up traffics are bad with so many cars. Pmds help lighten the traffic,” she wrote.
Another user named Noorizhardfan Lizhafir noted that “nothing you (Dr Lam) did and are doing right now is actual solutions to reaching a win2 situation”. He said that the UL2272 was first introduced to curb fire and speeding issues. Therefore, he asked why is the government not waiting for these changes to first take full effect before imposing a blanket ban?
“Once after full effect taken, can’t you setup a task force and mobilise your CCTCs installed everywhere to weed them out? These are not impossible task,” he said.
He added, “We all know that this move is in some ways politically inclined to gain more votes for you from the other Singaporeans. Those who attend yesterday know this outright.”
In addition, Mr Noorizharfan also listed down concerns raised by parents on why they switched to PMD. Some of the reasons include its cheaper cost, ability to beat horrendous traffic during rush hours, the capability to bring more kids at one go and lack of facilities in public transport to fit strollers during peak hours.