‘I want to walk freely’: 69,000 people have signed an old petition against PMDs, after the Government hinted it might ban them

The number of signatures on a petition started in April shot to almost 69,000 in October, following a high-profile PMD accident.
The Straits Times
  • People are calling for a PMD ban in Singapore after an elderly woman died in a collision with an illegally-modified e-scooter.

  • On Monday (Oct 7), Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said the Government would have “no choice” but to ban PMDs if riders did not improve their behaviour.

  • Support for a six-month-old online petition against PMDs has spiked, reaching close to 69,000 signatures on Thursday (Oct 10).

  • An opposing petition to keep PMDs garnered over 500 signatures.

It looks like Singaporeans have had enough of personal mobility devices (PMDs).

A petition created six months ago, calling for a ban of the now-ubiquitous transport mode here, has attracted renewed interest after the recent and high-profile death of an elderly cyclist hit by a 20-year-old e-scooter rider.

His illegally modified scooter could hit speeds of up to 80km/h, authorities found – the equivalent of a car on an expressway.

Read also: LTA is warning irresponsible PMD users with hashtags like #WeAreWatchingYou in its latest Facebook video

The accident, mentioned in Parliament on Monday (Oct 7), led Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary to hint that the Government could “have no choice” but to ban PMDs if accidents continued.

It would take years to build dedicated PMD lanes, he said, so the ministry would take the next one or two months to review a “difficult” decision if PMDs should be allowed elsewhere in the meantime.

Added the minister: “We are determined to improve footpath safety back to the levels we had before PMDs were allowed.”

The number of signatures on a change.org petition started in April by user Zachary Tan doubled to almost 69,000 within weeks of the accident, after Tan updated it with an email he sent to Transport Minister Lam Pin Min.

Screenshot

In the email – also addressed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Law Minister K Shanmugam – Tan said able-bodied thrill seekers were behind speeding PMDs, not deliverymen or those with genuine mobility issues.

He added that banning PMDs might cost deliverymen their livelihood, but victims of PMD accidents suffered pain, disability, and death.

“It is hard to think of a scenario where depriving riders of their PMD will land them in similar distress… (making it) difficult to justify prioritising the convenience and rights of PMD riders over pedestrian safety,” he said, suggesting that deliveries be done on bicycles instead.

The Straits Times

Tan also raised Singapore’s ban on guns, chewing gum, and alcohol sales after 10.30pm, as examples of sacrificing the rights of a small group to benefit society at large.

“Could LTA thus apply the same thought process when banning e-scooters and e-bikes?” he asked. “The concept of a safe space has been taken away from pedestrians, who should not have an obligation to constantly check for traffic on a non-vehicle path.”

Read also: Almost half of Singapore drivers feel that roads are now more dangerous – and it’s got to do with e-scooters and ride-sharing vehicles

When Business Insider viewed the petition at noon on Thursday (Oct 10), signatures were still pouring in by the minute, with hundreds of fed up pedestrians leaving supportive comments.

“I want to be able to walk freely and assuredly with my kid,” said user Chrisvian Tan, while tourist Vasanthan Govindasamy said he was “just so scared to use the footpath” with his child in tow while on holiday here.

One user, Samuel Tay, said it was “unacceptable” for authorities to treat pedestrians as “collateral damage” just to prop up the delivery economy. Others said pedestrians’ use of mobile phones contributed to the danger.

Many recounted incidences of speeding PMDs, and said they feared for their elderly parents and young children.

“I’ve had and seen a few close shaves, and the PMD riders just went on their way nonchalantly, assuming they have right of way,” said Ping Low, while Linus Seet described speeding perpetrators as “blaring loud music” and installing “super-bright headlights”.

A man riding an e-bike at a HDB void deck – which is currently illegal.
Linahe Wanbao

According to a recent survey of 1,116 Singaporeans by market research firm YouGov, 42 per cent of respondents supported a total PMD ban, with older respondents (over 55 years old) twice as likely to do so than younger ones (18 to 24 years old).

Participants also ranked e-scooters as the most dangerous type of transport in Singapore by far, beating out cars, motorbikes, and other PMD types like electric bicycles and regular scooters.

Almost 70 per cent of respondents said PMD use should be restricted to those with genuine mobility issues.

Following the incident, 25 PMD retailers here said in a joint statement that they would no longer sell PMDs to those under 16, or service unregistered PMDs.

PMD Retailers Association of Singapore supports the Consolidated Statement.This is a collective industry effort that…

Posted by PMD Retailers Association of Singapore on Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Meanwhile, on change.org, another petition against any ban on PMDs in Singapore garnered over 500 signatures in two weeks, with supporters calling a ban “unfair”.

Many said they used their PMDs to save money on transport or earn a living.

“Cars kill people every year too,” said a user named Dolce Li. “Why don’t we ban them?”

Read also: 70% of Singapore consumers order from food delivery apps at least once a month – and most are spending more money in recent years