SPEECH BY ER DR LEE BEE WAH, MP FOR NEE SOON GRC, AT THE SECOND READING OF THE ACTIVE MOBILITY (AMENDMENT) BILL IN PARLIAMENT
Mr Speaker Sir
First of all, I wish to commend Minister for the e-scooter footpath ban which came into effect on 5 Nov last year. Since then, I have received fewer complaints from residents about reckless riders, and my residents have generally expressed support for the ban. I am pleased to note that other motorised mobility devices like electric hoverboards and unicycles will also be banned from footpaths progressively by March.
I’m sure this was a difficult decision to make, in light of those who depend on PMDs for their livelihood, and also when we are trying to move towards a car-lite nation. However, as I have said not once, not twice but many times, in previous parliament sessions, something had to be done given the casualties, injuries, near-misses caused by reckless e-scooter users, besides the fire caused during the battery charging.
Human lives must be prioritised above everything else. It’s only after taking care of that that we can explore new solutions.
I would like to speak firstly on the limitations of the regulations, then on the issues that more PABs and bicycles could bring.
Limitations of regulations
I note that a number of regulations have also been introduced to improve safety with regards to riding of PMDs on public paths. E-scooter and e-bike users must be at least 16 years old and take a theory test to ride on public paths. I think this is great and I too have been calling for minimum age and for users to partake in a qualifying assessment before they can hit the paths. May I ask if all existing users of the registered devices have to take this test? How many registered users are there currently and how long will this take to be rolled out? Will those who passed the test be issued certification or license that they have to carry with them when riding?
I am also concerned about the limitations of the regulations. Multiple people in a household may share a device.
Some of them may use the device without taking the test and this will likely go undiscovered until they get into an accident. This problem is likely to be more prevalent among minors. Children under 16 years old can illegally use the devices belonging to their older family members. How can we ensure that there is effective enforcement? Further, how would these regulations apply to PMD and e-bike rentals? I suppose customers are required to produce their certificate before they can hire a PMD? But what about tourists and other foreign visitors who would not have taken the test?
And on the subject of age, would there be any age limit for seniors to ensure that they are medically fit to ride PMDs?
Weak eyesight or other medical problems may cause them to misjudge distances, and navigate obstacles safely on the path, which could cause them to endanger themselves and others.
Motorists above 65 years are required to undergo a medical check-up every three years by a registered doctor if they want to continue driving. Would something similar be extended to PMD riders as well? And if so, we might have to make it easier for those with light mobility problems to get PMAs.
I am heartened to note that my persistent push for third party liability insurance for e-scooter riders has finally paid off. Businesses are now required to cover their riders who use e-scooters for work with third-party liability insurance, and this requirement is also extended to those who use other mobility devices for work. In the latter case, does the responsibility of insurance lie with the employee, or the employer? What if the employee is a freelancer? And as with many PMD riders who work with delivery companies, they are not full-time staff.
Are employers still required to insure them? With third-party insurance in place, what protocols should be observed in case of an accident? Is the PMD rider required to have a copy of the insurance certificate on him so he can give it to the victim to claim against him?
Even with these measures, any accident is one too many.
Riders who ride recklessly and go beyond legal speed limits still cause a hazard to themselves and all other users. Does LTA have the resources to catch them and enforce penalties, be it whether they are riding recklessly on path connectors or roads?
On the eve of New Year, I was on my way to Countdown@Khatib. I saw a convoy of e-riders happily cruising along Yishun Ave 2, as if the whole road belongs to them.
I can sympathise, appreciate the frustration of the enforcement officers.
Many residents shared with me that they feel so unsafe when they’re at bus stops waiting for the bus.
I would like to ask is LTA doing enough to use technology, for example face recognition, in carrying out the enforcement, so as to make the footpaths safe, to make our bus stops safe.
Issues with PABs and bicycles
I move on to the issues that more PABs and bicycles could bring. SMS Lam revealed that 3550 riders have applied for the e-scooter trade-in grant, with about three-quarters of those opting for PABs and a quarter going for bicycles. Is the Ministry sufficiently equipped to monitor the impact of more PABs and bicycles on the roads?
Riding on the roads can be dangerous and I wonder if there are plans to implement mandatory safety courses and tests for all riders. In the past months, cyclists have died after being hit by cars. There was also one fatal case involving a pedestrian killed by a cyclist. Frankly speaking, I am really worried about having more cyclists on the roads.
Are there incidences of drunk riding on the roads? In the UK, one can be fined up to £1,000 for riding under the influence of alcohol . Are there similar laws for cycling in Singapore? Drunk cycling is a hazard for cyclists, pedestrians and also to motorists.
Furthermore, because of all those fire cases that happened with charging of PMDs, I’d like to ask what is being done to ensure that PABs meet fire and electrical safety requirements?
The amendments to the bill will make our paths safe again. Of course, we also need the cooperation of every motorist and pedestrian to stay alert and stay on the right paths.
In Chinese please. 许多居民告诉我，自从PMD不准上行人道以后，他们不再需要每天心惊胆跳。
Watch the response by MOT here