'Safety must come first': Speed limit of PMAs to be cut to 6kmh, says MOT

'Safety must come first': Speed limit of PMAs to be cut to 6kmh, says MOT
PHOTO: The Straits Times file

Some consider them a menace?on the roads - but the use of Personal Mobility Aids (PMAs) are also how some make ends meet.

For 51-year-old delivery rider Hu, her?mobility scooter?isn't just how she earns a living. It's also how?she goes about her life, whether getting groceries or just going around her neighbourhood.

But it seems change is on the horizon for Hu - during the debates in Parliament on Tuesday (March 5), Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Baey Yam Keng shared multiple changes to regulations for PMAs that will come into effect around 2025.

This includes a reduction in speed limit from 10kmh to 6kmh, an update in dimension restrictions and a stipulation that only those with medical needs can use PMAs.

Speaking with AsiaOne, Hu shared that she has become quite reliant on her PMA after purchasing it two years ago.

She had been working as a cleaning supervisor until she accidentally breathed in acidic chemicals at work, leaving her hospitalised.

Since then, her asthma would occasionally flare up, causing breathing difficulties.

Although Hu?previously did?her food delivery job on a tricycle, she soon found?that too taxing on her health due to her injuries, so she forked out about $1,500 to buy a PMA.

On average, she estimated that she's?able to make about two deliveries in just over an hour - but now, she's looking at a possible 50 per cent cut in her earnings with the speed limit changes announced?during the Ministry of Transport's (MOT) Committee of Supply debate today.?

"We follow the rules and regulations, but some people don't," Hu?said, adding that?those who speed are able to complete more orders than her.?

There will be 'trade-offs': Chee Hong Tat

Speaking on the changes to PMA regulation, Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat said: "There are trade-offs involved and we expect pushback from some PMA users.

"But we must be clear that between ensuring safety for residents and providing convenience for PMA users, safety must come first."

The reduction in PMA speed limit from?10kmh to 6kmh was brought about?per recommendations proposed by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP) last December.

These changes were put forward?amid rising concerns regarding the misuse of PMAs by able-bodied individuals, resulting in complaints from the public about dangerous riding, speeding, and over-sized PMAs, The Straits Times reported on Sunday (March 3).

Devices such as kick-scooters, electric scooters and hoverboards are considered Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs), while motorised wheelchairs and mobility scooters are considered PMAs, according to LTA's website.?

Baey also said?in Parliament today: "While we are expanding our cycling paths island-wide, it is not possible to build dedicated paths for different users everywhere given our limited land."

Sharing our paths would become a frequent necessity, and when doing so, "the safety of all path users is crucial", he added.

"Where necessary, we will step up our public education efforts, tighten our regulations and carry out appropriate enforcement," he elaborated.?

Although some might see this planned speed limit of 6kmh?as being "too slow", Baey stressed that it is a speed comparable to a brisk walk?that some able-bodied people may not be able to sustain "for an extended period".

"We understand that many existing PMAs have a speed limit of 10kmh," he said.

"There is no need for existing users to stop using or?replace their current devices. They just need to ride no faster than 6kmh, and when they next replace their PMA, the new device should have a speed limit of 6kmh."

Only users with medical needs can use PMAs

Next, Baey also confirmed that there would?be a certification requirement for the usage of mobility scooters, as recommended by AMAP.

Moving forward, only users who are certified to have relevant medical needs, such as walking difficulties, would be allowed to use mobility scooters.

"We will provide a transition period to give users ample time to obtain certification," Baey said.?

"There is no need for users to rush to obtain certification. Enforcement officers will also exercise discretion on the ground."

PMAs will also see an update in dimension restrictions when on public paths - they should not exceed a width of 70cm, a length of 120cm, a height of 150cm and a laden weight of 300kg.

Baey clarified that they are aware of the "small proportion" of users that require PMAs of a larger size and that enforcement officers will exercise discretion.

However, these over-sized devices will not be allowed on board public transport, he said.

'If they can walk, they should be walking'

Speaking with The Straits Times earlier this month, PMA user Hamida Din, 50, believes the?changes in regulation will restrict those who "use PMAs inappropriately".

"If they can walk, they should be walking," she said.?"It’s dangerous to be riding with their children and wives?on board."

Adam Sng, 66, also told The Straits Times then that many PMA users he sees traverse at high speeds and have "stylo milo riding techniques".

Once these changes are implemented, he hopes they will prevent youth from?speeding around on PMAs.

ALSO READ:?'Very dangerous': Family of 4 spotted riding PMA on road in Yishun

khooyihang@asiaone.com

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