Personal Mobility Device (PMD) sharing could soon become a publicly available transport option.
Starting January next year, operators offering PMD-sharing services will be allowed to apply for sandbox or limited licences to operate small fleets in Singapore.
In parliament yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Lam Pin Min said that while PMDs provide a convenient transport option and sharing services will allow Singaporeans more access to the devices, it is important that operators provide such options without causing the public inconvenience.
Dr Lam added: "Drawing on the lessons from regulating the bicycle sharing industry, LTA is taking a cautious approach to regulating the PMD sharing industry."
He said that some key issues being studied include fire risks, charging issues and the need for third-party liability insurance.
In parliament, Non-Constituency Member Dennis Tan had pointed out that PMD-sharing services could pose certain dangers, especially in the cases of unsafe and inconsiderate usage.
Several stakeholders and experts told TNP that while there have been issues surrounding PMD and bike-sharing globally, Singapore has programmes that will help curb such issues, such as the Safe Riding Programme to educate users on safe practices.
There are also laws in place to regulate the riding of such vehicles under the Active Mobility Act. Experts added that with the experience gained from the bike-sharing services here, and the regulations Singapore has put in place in response to the issues that arose from the service, we are well-primed for PMD-sharing.
Mr Denis Koh, the chairman of the largest PMD enthusiast group here, Big Wheel Scooters Singapore, said that while there is no one policy that can cover everything, and issues such as errant riders might still exist, there are ways that PMD-sharing could actually be safer.
For instance, with shared PMDs, riders do not need to worry about whether the PMDs are compliant with safety standards, as these can be regulated, said Mr Koh, 46, who sits on the Active Mobility Advisory Panel.
The president of the PMD Retailers Association of Singapore, Mr Wilson Seng, agreed, saying that regulation reduces the risks associated with home modifications or unlicensed sellers.
Mr Christopher Hilton, vice-president, corporate affairs at Beam, a Singapore PMD-sharing operator, said that with their vehicles, they can control, based on law and regulation, the maximum speeds their devices can run at, for example.
Speaking of Beam, Mr Hilton said that because PMDs needed to be charged, they are less likely to be left out or parked irresponsibly overnight as the company will have to pick them up to charge them before redeploying them the next day.
This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.