A complete ban on personal mobility devices is possible but would be difficult to enforce because of their widespread use.
PMD ban may be hard to enforce A complete ban on personal mobility devices is possible but would be difficult to enforce because of their widespread use. PHOTO: ST FILE

The Personal Mobility Device (PMD) community is taking to heart the possibility of a government ban on the devices becoming a reality if users persist in behaving the way they do now.

Observers, however, said a complete ban would be difficult to enforce because of the widespread use of PMDs.

About 90,000 e-scooters have been registered with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) as of August. Said Transport Economist Walter Theseira, who is also a Nominated MP, "It is tricky because you don't know the day after a ban whether you will have mass compliance or not, which is what you really need. If the first day after a ban, you have 10,000 PMD riders on the paths in Singapore, obviously it is not going to be practical to charge all 10,000 of them."

Calls to ban PMDs have grown significantly louder in the last two weeks, after a 65-year old cyclist, Madam Ong Bee Eng, died after suffering injuries in a collision with an e-scooter. More than 67,000 people have now signed an online petition on Change.org, calling for the devices to be banned.

Mr. Lee Weng Foo, 61, Founder of the GrabFood Delivery Partners Chat group on the Telegram app, which has 4,400 members, about half of whom are e-scooter riders, said the community is now concerned and angry that the devices could be banned. 

Mr. Lee said, "With PMDs, you can travel faster than bicycles, so you can deliver more orders. I have urged them to be more careful and not to rush when doing food deliveries."

Mr. Ifrey Lai, Managing Director of e-scooter retailer Mobot, added, "(The authorities) also need to listen to other PMD users... There are almost 100,000 PMD users in Singapore, which is not a small group. Personally, I think the message is a warning sign to errant users. I don't think the authorities will be able to effect a real ban."

They were commenting on Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary's statement yesterday in Parliament, where he said if users' behaviour does not improve, "we may have no choice but to ban their usage completely from Singapore".

Mr. Denis Koh, Chairman of the PMD enthusiast group Big Wheel Scooters Singapore and member of the Active Mobility Advisory Panel, said the onus is now on PMD users, retailers and businesses to work together to promote safe PMD usage. He said the authorities have given sufficient warnings to errant users, like the regular updates of the LTA's enforcement efforts. "I can understand where the authorities are coming from - it is a concern for the public - with all the negativity going around. It is not really connectivity at all costs."

If despite the enforcement efforts and education, nothing improves, he foresees a ban.

Associate Professor Theseira, however, argued that while a ban was unlikely to change the errant ways of users, the possibility of it could prompt companies that rely heavily on e-scooters, like food delivery companies, to do more to improve PMD safety.

"These companies have a strong reason to do everything they can to ensure safety because I don't see how they can keep up their volume of deliveries just by relying on bicycles and walking," he said.