Bracing for tough new laws, PMD users urge authorities to go lenient on 1st-time offenders

Bracing for tough new laws, PMD users urge authorities to go lenient on 1st-time offenders
Active mobility enforcement officers checking on a personal mobility device (PMD) in October 2016. Under the new Active Mobility Act, a person is not allowed to ride a bicycle, e-bike or PMD on pedestrian-only paths. TODAY file photo
Published: 4:00 AM, January 12, 2017
Updated: 12:22 PM, January 12, 2017

SINGAPORE — While users of personal mobility devices (PMDs) acknowledge that there were black sheep among their ranks, they hope that the authorities would exercise some leniency for first-time offenders in the initial stages after the new laws on the proper use of such devices kick in later this year.

Some of the PMD users interviewed by TODAY also said more needed to be done to increase public awareness of the new laws.

Under the new Active Mobility Act, which was passed by Parliament on Tuesday, a person cannot ride a bicycle, an e-bike or PMD on pedestrian-only paths.

Subject to speed limits, only those riding bicycles and PMDs are permitted on footpaths, while shared paths, such as cycling paths and park connectors, can be used by those riding bicycles, PMDs and e-bikes.

Those who flout these rules can be fined up to S$1,000, or jailed up to three months, or both.

A 21-year-old man, who wanted to known only as Mr Han, said that there should be more efforts to disseminate information about the new regulations through platforms such as social media, since many young PMD users such as himself do not keep up with the news.

Mr Han, who recently bought an electric scooter to zip around from his home at Yio Chu Kang to nearby areas, said he tries not to go too fast but acknowledged that some of his peers might flout the rules.

“The young generation nowadays tend to just like the thrill of it, and perhaps to show (off) how fast their PMDs can go,” he said.

IT manager Jonathan Ong, who uses a hoverboard to get to his office in the Central Business District (CBD) daily, wondered if the authorities could provide more clarifications on “grey areas”.

“Obviously, I won’t be going on the main roads, but what about the small roads like back lanes? For me, it’s sometimes easier to use those roads because it’s more (flat), not so many bumps or slopes and there’s less traffic,” said the 44-year-old.

Some of those interviewed said they hoped that first-time offenders would be shown leniency. Mr Han said this could be in the form of a warning or having the PMD confiscated, rather than slapping a first-time offender with a heavy fine.

However, a regular cyclist, who wanted to be known only as Mr Loh, felt the heavy penalties would send a strong deterrent message to errant users. Pointing out that he often sees many PMD users moving at speeds of up to 60kmh on the roads, the 60-year-old retiree said in Mandarin: “Singaporeans will only change their habits if you use expensive methods (in the form of heavy penalties).”

An e-scooter rider, Mr Kwok, 35, said he hoped that Singapore could create more designated paths for PMD users in the CBD to further reduce road accidents.

Despite the new regulations, dispatch rider Mohamed Yusoff, 60, said he still prefers to ride his electric bike on the pavements to deliver mail around the CBD.

“On the road, you have to be extra careful because some cars may swerve suddenly in front of you … So I sometimes use the (pavement) ... We just make sure we go slowly and watch out for people,” he said.