Are PMDs An Idiotic Invention or Are Riders Idiots?
Top image credit: Asiaone

I remember when PokemonGo was at its height. I was having dinner at East Coast Park when I noticed groups of players recklessly swerving around the pavements on their PMDs (Personal Mobility Devices), endangering pedestrians.

The E-Scooters were garishly adorned with LED lights that corresponded to whichever team they were from. There was yellow for Team Instinct, blue for Team Mystic, and red for Team Valour. On top of that, the latest siam diu hits were being blasted on the second-hand JBL speakers precariously hanging off their fanny packs.

I could see the enthusiasm in their faces as one of them asked me if I had seen a Dragonite in the area.

I had not.

But while I was not privy to the whereabouts of Dragon-Type Pokemon in the vicinity, there was one thing that I was certain of: That they were all massive cunts.

You may or may not know this, but there were 128 accidents on public paths caused by PMDs last year, three times that of the number in 2016. The correlation between the increase in PMDs on the roads and the increase in PMD-related accidents is as clear as the glass Najib will be talking to Rosmah through.

Because of this, new measures such as compulsory registration of PMDs with LTA and speed restrictions on walkways were implemented under the Active Mobility Act (AMA). Violation of which would result in hefty fines and lengthy jail terms.

In spite of all these new regulations, there are still accidents happening week in, week out.

Try not to flex your schadenfreude muscles as I bring up the fairly recent example of Mdm Cassandra Ho.

Mdm Ho, who was an advocate for safe riding habits for PMDs (Stop!), was the unfortunate recipient of a 3cm cut on the back of her head, bruise under her right eye, and swelling on her right cheek, all because someone on an e-scooter crashed into her as she was walking along a footpath.

To injure someone to such an extent would imply that the e-scooter was moving at a substantial speed.

Why was that the case? Was it really that important for the rider to move at such speeds on a walkway?

If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you would notice that most of the PMD accidents that occur often involve riders barely out of their teens who fit the profile that I mentioned at the beginning on the piece to a T.

These riders do not have a care in the world and simply should not be allowed to continue being such menaces on our roads.

Sure, we get that they saved their pocket money for months on end only to blow it all on a transport device that is meant to make their lives easier. However, if they aren’t mature enough to comprehend the responsibility of public safety the moment they step on their e-scooters, then they’re better off spending their allowance on Tamiya cars and Beyblades.

And then there are those who enter an expressway on an e-scooter, taking it all to a whole new level of stupid.

Image credit: Coconuts
Or am I perhaps the stupid one unable to comprehend the benefits of riding a PMD?

To get to the bottom of this, I infiltrated the “Big Wheels Scooters Singapore” Facebook group.

To my surprise and utter disappointment, it seemed like nothing more than a fairly innocuous platform for PMD enthusiasts to show off their pride on two wheels in various picturesque backdrops around Singapore.

It also functioned as a marketplace for spare parts, which has gained in popularity because of new restrictions limiting the maximum weight of a PMD to 20kg. Owners started looking for lighter and sturdier materials to bring down the weight of their PMDs.

Whisper the words “Carbon Fibre” into the ear of any PMD owner and I guarantee you that their knees would go weak.

While the community was wholesome and advocated safe riding, their reputation will forever be sullied because of the few bad apples in the bunch who put their need for speed ahead of public safety.

Despite this, I still feel that we should not have PMDs on the roads in Singapore for the simple reason that we do not have the infrastructure put in place for PMDs to be a viable form of transport.

For starters, they are not allowed on roads or on walkways. That pretty much covers majority of potential routes that riders can take, with the exception of park connectors. I’m sure that no one is going to ride their PMD from Bedok to Shenton Way via the East Coast Park Connector. It does not make any sense to own a PMD for reasons other than leisure.

And even if they were allowed on roads, our roads simply do not allow that many varieties of vehicles on our Singaporean roads. The only way PMDs will not prove to be a nuisance or menace to other road users would be to have PMD-exclusive lanes.

Seeing as bicycle lanes are only just emerging here, I would not bet my last dollar on PMD lanes making an appearance anytime soon.

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Yes, we have to acknowledge that teething problems are inevitable with new innovations. Imagine if the Wright Brothers gave up inventing the aeroplane. You would be taking 2-week long voyages on a sampan to your family vacation in Australia, and as we’ve mentioned, none of us need to be put through that.

However, we have to ask ourselves how important PMDs are to allow them to continue being a threat to us. While I do believe that the punishments meted out against errant riding will be a deterrence to potential offenders, there is still risk of accidents involving pedestrians because of the nature of PMDs. Unlike cars with loud and audible engines, PMDs have silent motors that creep up on you. By the time the pedestrian notices the e-scooter, it’d be too late.

Having to suffer so much collateral damage just to facilitate the introduction of a new mode of transport isn’t just silly. It’s selfish and entitled.  

Because of this, I always get an uncontrollable urge to clothesline speeding e-scooter riders just so I can get that smug look off their faces.

If I ever bump into the same group of second-rate hoodlums at ECP speeding around while trying to conquer a raid battle in PokemonGo, then like the original 151 Pokemon in the Kanto region of the series, I will implore the police to Catch Em’ All.

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