Speech by Mr. Louis Ng Kok Kwang, MP for Nee Soon GRC at the Second Reading of the Active Mobility Bill [Bill No. 40/2016]
Madam, as there appears to be an increasing conflict between pedestrains and users or bicycles, Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs) and Power Assisted Bicyces (PADs), it is timely that we start to regulate the use of public paths.
While I stand in support of the Bill, I have several concerns to raise.
Criteria for classifying public paths
Can the Minister clarify the criteria used for classifying public paths. Will members of the public be able to appeal for the re-classification of public paths? Will the Ministry be monitoring the amount of conflicts on a public path and reviewing the classification of the public paths. If so, how often will such reviews be conducted?
Concern for pedestrian safety
I note that bicycles will be allowed on footpaths, shared paths and the road. I remain concerned about allowing bicycles on public paths as I have no doubt that accidents will occur and of course have already occurred numerous times.
At my last MPS, I met a resident who was knocked down from the back by a bicycle. The cyclist did stop and said sorry but immediately rode off, leaving her with a fractured wrist.
I’m especially concerned about children using the public paths. They would be more difficult to spot by the cyclists, an accident will probably result in more serious injuries and they would be more difficult to avoid as their movements are more erratic as they are often playing on the paths. Of course we can say that parents have to control their children but we know that in reality, this might not be possible all the time.
I do appreciate that we have set speed limits but how will a user of a conventional bicycle know what speed he or she is travelling at?
I also appreciate that we have a new team to enforce these new regulations but with a vast amount of public paths, we all know that enforcement will be limited as we simply cannot be everywhere at all times.
Can the Minister provide further details on how we will keep the public path safe for pedestrians beyond setting a maximum speed limit, unladen weight and width?
For example, will it be possible to make it mandatory for all riders to install and switch on their headlights at night on their of bicycles, PMDs or PADs especially since the probability of an accident increases when it is dark?
Making it mandatory to dismount
Can we also consider making it compulsory for riders of bicycles, PMDs and PADs to dismount and push their bicycles, PMDs and PADs at crowded areas, for example near bus stops. Even if the riders keep to the speed limits at these areas, it is unlikely to prevent accidents. It would be much safer for all users if they dismount and push.
Can the Minister also clarify if the rules will or can apply to walkways in front of shops and along HDB void decks, lift lobbies and staircases. A resident wrote to me recently and allow me to read out her concerns:
I would like to highlight that there have been increasing number of people using Bicycles, E-Scooters and Hovers Board at the walkway along the shops opposite my place. Is there any way to put up signs to advise these riders to dismount from their mobile vehicles when they are at the walkway.
Despite the walkway getting very crowded, there are riders who disregard the safety of pedestrians walking along the shops. They continue to ride on their mobile vehicles to squeeze through the crowd instead of dismounting and pushing their vehicles. I am sure many pedestrians including me have to keep watching our backs as we walk.
Completely prohibiting the sale of non-compliant PMDs
Next, can the Minister clarify with regard to Clause 30, why we are not criminalising one-off sale of non-complaint PMDs and also sale by wholesale? It would seem like we are creating a loophole in this piece of legislation.
Praise for the Active Mobility Advisory Panel
Lastly, I note that the government had accepted in full the recommendations submitted by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel in March 2016.
I welcome the government’s move to include stakeholders in policy-making, in this case, 14 representatives from seniors and grassroots leaders to PMD users and cyclists.
This is reminiscent of the Animal Welfare Legislation Review Committee, which I was a part of.
I look forward to more of such review and advisory committees being set up to ensure that the policies we enact are by the people and for the people.
Madam, the above comments notwithstanding, I stand in support of the Bill.