Singapore 2025

What of Singapore towards 2025? Thoughts of a Singaporean.

Parliament: Active Mobility Bill (Pritam Singh) – 10 Jan 2017

Introduction

This Bill aims to regulate the use of public paths, in response to the popularity of Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs) and Power-Assisted Bicycles (PABs). While the evolution and use of such devices has been rapid, there is no doubt that a set of easily understandable rules needs to be implemented to govern the use of such devices for the safety of all. While I am supportive of this Bill and its objectives, I seek a few clarifications with regard to some clauses of the Bill and will raise them in chronological order.

Clarifications on Specific Clauses

On clause 2, the intention of using the noun “pedestrian” in the Bill appears to separate faster-moving individuals from those who are slower, so that the ‘pedestrian-only path’ is in some ways protected from bicycles or other vehicles. But in day-to-day life this may cause confusion, especially when skateboards are classified as PMDs while people on inline/roller skates are classified as pedestrians. People on inline/roller skates can move fairly quickly and potentially cause harm to other pedestrians as well. How did the Ministry settle on the definition of who is a pedestrian and who is not?

Under clause 15, a potential jail term for riding on pedestrian-only paths appears excessive, especially if reasonable judgement has been exercised to ensure that the path is clear of pedestrians (e.g. late at night or in places with less human traffic), and the rider is not speeding/riding recklessly. While this may be a matter of judgment and the Ministry wishes to be unambiguous about the seriousness of such violations or facilitate uncomplicated interpretation, would not a more incremental legislative approach starting with fines, represent more communicative and educative policymaking so as to allow people to understand the rules and to allow a passage of time to pass before Parliament determines whether or not to review sentences based on the ground feedback? Such an incremental approach would also help to reinforce a safety culture for PMD and PAB users over time.

Clauses 26 and 27 state that the proprietor or occupier of any land can be required to install and maintain signages at their cost and they will be guilty of an offence if they are not compliant. Would it not be administratively more efficient for the relevant authorities, specifically LTA and NParks for example to bear the costs of erecting and maintaining signages? This would also be administratively convenient as there would be a clear standardisation of such signs? If proprietors or occupiers have to purchase signages from officially approved agents, would it not be better to have the relevant authority take charge instead?

Clause 30 states that any person/business selling non-compliant PMDs “must ensure that no customer or member of the public can see any non-compliant PMD from inside or outside of the premises” or they could be jailed. Would it not be enough for businesses to remind customers about which models are compliant or not before the purchase, which is provided for in the warning notices specified in Clause 30. Anecdotally, the legality of models is a big concern for people looking to buy PMDs. It would appears excessive to potentially jail sellers for failing to keep non-compliant PMDs out of sight of customers. The same concerns are relevant for Clause 31, which call for a fine and jail term for advertising non-compliant PMDs. If this indeed is a serious concern, can the Minister share why it would not be a better idea to just restricting the import of non-compliant PMDs altogether, tackling the problem upstream rather than having to deal with the problem at the retail level.

Clause 33 states that a person shall be guilty of an offence if at the time of sale, “the person knows that or is reckless as to whether or not, the buyer intends to ride the PMD on a public road.” This clause sounds practically unwieldy. This clause would cover sales “at any premises or place”, so it can be assumed that it would cover private individuals selling their used PMDs on Carousell for example. How will the Ministry determine whether or not a seller is “reckless” as to the buyer’s intentions to ride the PMD on a public road? Is failure to ask the buyer specifically if s/he intends to ride it on a public road considered an offence? If the buyer says no but rides on the road anyway, is the seller guilty of an offence because s/he did not question the buyer further?

Clause 33 also states that it is not a defence for the accused to prove that warning notices were displayed in accordance with Clause 31. If so, what would constitute a defence, short of a written agreement or agreement that is captured on video? How many sellers or buyers would do this? Is the implementation realistic or practicable?

Conclusion

To conclude Madam Speaker, the Bill seeks to govern the behaviour of individuals who use PMDs and PABs. Members would be aware that not just Singaporeans, but many foreigners, especially those who live and work near industrial estates also use such devices. One key challenge would be to educate a large and transient foreign worker community of these norms. As with any transient group, this effort would have to be a continuous one. The effectiveness of this legislation on the ground will be directly correlated to the amount of effort that is put to educate all users, Singaporeans and foreigners alike of the code or codes of conduct that can be issued by the Minister under clause 24 of this Bill.

Madam Speaker, my request for clarifications notwithstanding, I support the Bill.

Written by singapore 2025

10/01/2017 at 8:06 am

Posted in Parliament

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