Singapore bans PMDs from public sidewalks

Singapore’s recent ban on personal mobility devices from footpaths, while sudden and unexpected, has been generally well-received by the public and food delivery companies.

Just six months ago the government assured riders that a ban was not likely.

The ban – which extends to hoverboards, electric bikes, and e-scooters – will take full effect January 1, 2020. Errant riders may be subject to a fine of SGD$2,000 or three months jail time.

Food delivery companies the likes of Grab, Food Panda, and Deliveroo have expressed their willingness to cooperate with the government.

Partner-riders however, are less than psyched.

A $7 million grant has been announced in tandem with the ban to enable up to 7,000 affected food delivery riders to trade in their PMDs for power-assisted bicycles or bicycles.

Citizens and pedestrians alike are lauding the government’s recent move. An online petition led by Zachary Tan weeks ago calling for the PMD ban has garnered over 75,000 signatures to date.

Just April this year, an e-scooter rider ran into a child on Orchard Road. A row quickly ensued between the child’s father and the rider, also believed to be a Deliveroo partner-driver.

Another teenager riding his power-assisted bicycle (PAB) injured a middle-aged jogger when both collided on a footpath. The jogger was subsequently admitted to the hospital for brain injury.

Two months ago, a 65-year-old woman riding her bicycle home from work at night succumbed to multiple fractures and severe brain injuries four days after she too, collided with an e-scooter rider.

The 20-year-old rider was allegedly riding at speeds higher than 50 km/h, far above the speed limit of 25 km/h on public paths.

In the world’s most expensive country to own a car, the government is right in wanting to address the first and last-mile transportation needs of its daily commuters.

This city-state’s current MRT and public bus network is far better than that of its ASEAN neighbours, but more needs to be done.

Far from being smooth-sailing, Singapore’s journey towards becoming a car-lite society will take both time and massive investment in infrastructure to materialise. Dedicated bike and PMD lanes are a good start.

Singapore also wants its local gig economy to thrive, as evidenced by the phenomenal growth of the food delivery business in the Lion City over the past few years.

For now, however, it needs to do what it does best – issue a ban.

Zachary Tan sums it up best by citing the spirit behind Singapore’s ban on chewing gums, gun ownership, Swedish black metal concerts, and the sale of alcohol after 10.30 PM. That privileges of a minority cannot trump the right of the larger public to safe, vehicle-free roads.

Picture credit: Deliveroo’s facebook page