Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs), such as e-scooters and hoverboards , are not allowed to be ridden on Singapore’s roads.
Yet, we still continuously witness a series of e-scooting accidents or incidents on the roads- igniting vitriolic comments with regards to the use and regulation of PMDs. Some have even called for a total ban of such devices.
While keyboard warriors are quick to brandish their pitchforks and torches at PMD users, 45-year-old Arif Abdul Hamid, one of the administrators of Facebook PMD interest group Singapore Inokim Riders, points out that these errant users are a minority in the community and that accidents can happen to anyone.
Denis Koh, 45, chairman of Big Wheels Scooters Singapore (BWSS), too, agreed: “Accidents can happen to the best of us. As riders, we just need to be constantly mindful of our surroundings and the space that we are sharing.”
Thomas Hoon, 40-year-old founder of The Wheelies, an electric unicycle interest group, thinks that none of these accidents would have happened if PMD users followed the rules and stayed off the roads.
“If the errant riders follow the rules that are stipulated in the Active Mobility Bill, we should not be seeing these accidents. The rules are actually there to keep all the users safe,” he insisted.
But, if PMDs aren’t allowed on roads, why then, are users still flouting the rules?
Hoon explained: “My take is that some of these people are still not aware of the rules. They tend to mix it up with e-bikes which are allowed on the roads.”
Calls on social media to ban e-scooters from roads further highlight the lack of awareness that people aren’t aware that PMDs are already banned from roads.
Hoon feels that this lack of awareness becomes a stumbling block to promoting a safe riding culture and feels that the authorities could further step up on the publicity and enforcement of the rules and regulations.
“Both road and PMD users are not aware or confused of what is allowed or disallowed. And in this age of technology, unfortunately, there is no perfect way of informing the public. Some get their information from random social media sources, which might not be accurate.” Therefore, it is crucial that both device should ensure that they’re getting accurate information from the right sources.
But, all three PMD users admitted that ultimately, PMD users should take responsibility for their own personal safety instead of relying on others or the authorities.
Arif thinks education is key for PMD users and they should take the initiative to educate themselves on the rules and code of conduct. “I always tell my riders to use their judgment to tell right from wrong and just do the right thing,” he said.
Hoon said: “Safety is a personal responsibility. You cannot depend on others to keep you safe. Safety begins with doing the right things and all that has been highlighted in the Active Mobility Bill. So if we follow the rules, chances are we won’t get into any accidents.”
As for the rift between the public and PMD users, Arif called for more patience from the public as PMD users work on improving their riding habits while Koh thinks the situation will get better over time.
“Changes need time to evolve for the better. So, it’s not uncommon for people to voice their opinions on social media. In fact, I learn from the negative comments, filtering the ones that makes sense and would really contribute positively,” Koh said.
Given the increasing popularity of PMD-riding, it is inevitable that the e-scooting community and public will be faced with new challenges to tackle in terms of path-sharing and familiarisation of new rules and code of conduct. However, it is important not to allow the current climate of uncertainty and apprehension cloud the potential benefits, such as time savings and convenience, that PMDs can bring to our way of life.