Lower PMD speeds on footpaths 'good' but onus should still be on users
Experts welcome move to lower speed on footpaths to 10kmh but say onus on users to be more careful
While lowering the speed limit of bicycles and personal mobility devices (PMDs) on footpaths could go some way towards reducing the number of accidents on footpaths, experts say the proposal has limitations on improving pedestrian safety.
Reducing the speed limit from 15kmh to 10kmh was one of several recommendations by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP) last Friday in a review of current regulations.
The panel's chairman, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, who is Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Social and Family Development, said the proposed 10kmh speed limit will give active mobility users more reaction time to prevent accidents and reduce the severity of injuries in an accident.
In its submission to the Ministry of Transport, the 14-member panel cited a significant increase in reported accidents involving bicycles, PMDs and power-assisted bicycles (PABs) - from 19 cases in 2015 to 42 in 2016 and 128 last year.
In a survey in April as part of an extensive public consulation, the panel found that 77 per cent of the more than 6,000 respondents supported lowering the speed limit below 15kmh on footpaths. There will be no change to the 25kmh speed limit on shared paths.
The panel's call for slower speeds drew mixed reactions.
Mr Francis Chu, 58, co-founder of cycling enthusiast group Love Cycling SG, told The New Paper that while a lower speed limit may help slightly in reducing accidents on footpaths, it would make cycling and PMD use less attractive.
Mr Chu, who resigned from the AMAP over his disagreement with the new recommendations, said the proposed 10kmh speed limit would make commuting by bicycle and PMDs too slow and impractical.
Enhancing the safety of pedestrians
• Register electric scooters (accepted by the Government in March this year).
• Have 10kmh maximum speed limit for motorised personal mobility aids like motorised wheelchairs.
• Lower the 15kmh speed limit for PMDs and bicycles on footpaths to 10kmh.
Enhancing the safety of PMD users and cyclists
• Require PMD and bicycle users to stop and look out for traffic at road crossings.
• Require bicycle and e-bicycle users to wear helmets when travelling on roads.
Such speed limits are impossible to enforce 24/7, he said, adding: "If reckless riders are breaking the rules now by speeding, I don't see them suddenly slowing down (with the new speed limit)."
Instead, Mr Chu suggested the speed limit be complemented by rules that put the onus on cyclists and PMD users - by making it clear they will be at fault if they hit a pedestrian.
He added: "We should not create, in the eyes of the law, a situation where the rider and pedestrian are equal.
"The rider must be the guest on footpaths. They must respect the safety of the pedestrian unconditionally."
Singapore Safety Driving Centre training manager Gerard Pereira, 61, felt that reducing the speed limit would deter speeding.
But even at 10kmh, he said, cyclists or PMD users could still cause accidents if they do not slow down and give way to pedestrians on footpaths.
He said: "Speeding is a concern, but the responsibility of PMD users is the main concern."
Jurong GRC MP Ang Wei Neng, who sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said he understood the need to reduce the speed limit on footpaths but felt the mandatory e-scooter registration regime, expected to start early next year, should precede it.
Mr Ang said the registration would help in enforcement of the rules because it would be easier to identify PMD owners.
He added: "If registration has a good impact, we may want to stay at 15kmh first and review it subsequently.
In the meantime, Mr Ang said this was an opportunity to concentrate on intensifying education efforts to get more users familiar with the regulations.
"You need to have education hand-in-hand with enforcement," he said.
Madam Cassandra Ho, 49, who was injured after being hit by an e-scooter in June, said the 10kmh speed limit, which is slightly above jogging speed, was a good suggestion.
The former beauty queen and Active Mobility Patrol (AMP) volunteer said she had heard of accidents involving PMDs and bicycles that were not reported, and suggested the authorities start a hotline for easy reporting of such accidents.
She also called for greater enforcement and suggested the Land Transport Authority step up patrols at hotspots based on feedback and the number of such accidents.
An e-scooter user, who wanted to be known only as Mr Yong, however, felt it was idealistic to think a blanket speed limit could be enforced properly given the resources needed.
The 23-year-old student added: "If people think that they can get away with it, they will still ride above the speed limit."