Feb 20, 2018

PMD 101: What you should know before buying or riding your e-scooter

It’s lightweight, fun to ride and beats walking, so it’s little wonder why we own or have considered buying an e-scooter. 20-minute walk to the nearest coffeeshop? With an e-scooter, you can be there and back within that timing.

Recently however, e-scooters have been making into the news for the wrong reasons. From lighting HDB flats up in a blaze to fulfilling teenagers’ need for speed through illegal road races, there’s now more to consider before we decide to purchase or ride one now.

We spoke to Mr Swen Einhaus, founder of Singapore’s largest Facebook group for personal mobility device enthusiasts, Big Wheels Scooters Singapore (BWSS), for some tips when purchasing and riding an e-scooter.

1. Purchasing your PMD

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) defines an e-scooter as a Personal Mobility Device, or PMD. Under the Active Mobility Act, PMDs have to meet the following criteria for use in public areas:

Criteria for using PMDs in public areas

Riders caught using non-compliant PMDs may have to pay hefty fines. Do get your PMD from a reputable dealer and double-check its specifications, especially if it is bought online, to ensure they comply with the criteria. If possible, test the device yourself before making any purchase.

Also to ensure that your PMD does not have the risk of catching fire while charging, make sure that the charging adaptors carry the SPRING safety mark; and avoid third-party adaptors that are not from the original suppliers. Refer to the guide from SPRING Singapore for more information on preventing battery fires.

A PMD charging adaptor with the SPRING safety mark
Photo source:Noisy Neighbour Singapore
An illustration of a PMD battery catching fire
Photo source:SPRING Singapore

When purchasing your PMD, it also helps to consider various factors such as price and practicality. You can also check out this resource for such tips.

2. Gearing up for your ride

Accidents can still happen even to the safest riders. Wearing the right safety gear can make a difference in the event of a collision or fall.

Arm yourself with the necessary safety gear
When riding, do wear your helmet, elbow/knee pads and gloves. It also helps to always check that your tyres, brakes and lights are in good working condition before scooting. Faulty or substandard components are a hazard.

Ensure functioning front white light and rear red light for your device
This rule still applies even if you had excellent night vision. It is crucial that others can spot you in the dark as well. However, do be considerate to others on the path by not choosing lights that shine blindingly bright.

3. Where can you ride your PMD

Commuters on a footpath
An example of a Footpath
People cycling on a shared path
An example of a Cycling/Shared Path

You can only ride your PMDs on footpaths and shared paths (which includes cycling paths and Park Connector Networks).

It is an offence to ride your PMD on the roads. Several PMD riders have since been caught riding on the roads and faced fines while having their devices impounded.

4. How fast can you ride your PMD

An illustration that highlights the speed limit on a PMD

Use the speed limits as a guide and ride well under it when there are others sharing your path. Always be prepared to slow down and stop when approaching areas that are crowded or has blind spots, such as the exit gates of schools and other residential buildings.

5. Other safety guidelines to observe

Infographic for Safety guidelines to observe - 1

Infographic for Safety guidelines to observe - 2

Infographic for Safety guidelines to observe - 3

You can read up on the active mobility rules and code of conduct online. Additionally, you can also check out the PMD etiquette guide that BWSS has put up on their blog, which includes practical safety tips such as why PMD users should angle their headlight towards the ground slightly and how to scoot safely in groups.

PMDs can be a fun and convenient addition to your current lifestyle. Just remember these safety tips, keep calm and scoot safe!

Also Read: 5 safety checks for your bicycle before venturing on the road