Is An Overnight Blanket Ban The Way To Go?

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On 4 November, the Goverment announced an immediate ban on all personal mobility devices (PMDs) on footpaths. This new regulation restricts PMDs to only park connectors and bicycle paths. This ban comes amidst rising PMD-related injuries and deaths.

Expectedly, the ban has been met with unhappiness and anger, especially among those who depend on PMDs for a livelihood. This group of users are mostly food delivery riders who work for companies such as GrabFood, Foodpanda and Deliveroo. There are currently about 70 000 such riders.

Many of these riders felt that this sudden change in regulations has made it difficult for them to continue working. Some griped that it is not practical to dismount and push their PMDs as they are carrying heavy food items. Delivery time will be longer as a result and this might lead to customer complaints.

Apart from the above, PMD riders at large feel aggrieved by the ban as they are of the view that the ban should only be targeted at errant PMD users who do not comply with existing regulations. These errant riders often exceed the legal speed and weight limit and/or cause a fire hazard by using non-UL2272 certified devices.

While it is evident that unregulated PMD usage can cause problems for everyone, is a blanket ban the way to go? Should tighter regulations be introduced instead of an all-out ban? Perhaps the following could be considered in trying to reach a compromise for all affected by PMD usage:

1. Require all PMD riders to obtain a license and all PMDs to bear a unique registration plate. This will make all PMDs identifiable in the event of an incident.

2. Make it mandatory for all PMDs to have insurance policies similar to motor insurance. In the event of an accident, all parties involved will be appropriately compensated.

3. Require all PMDs sold in Singpaore to be fitted with electronic speed limiters, which will solve the problem of speeding to some extent.

4. Allow only work-related PMD usage on footpaths. Those who use PMDs for work must obtain a vocational license. They will be issued a special label which must be displayed clearly on their PMDs.

The above suggestions are not fool-proof and may not solve all PMD-related problems, but they are probably more palatable than a total ban. It remains to be seen if any changes will be made to PMD regulations in view of the backlash arising from the ban.

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