Speech by Senior Parliamentary Secretary Baey Yam Keng at MOT Committee of Supply 2024 - Balancing Connectivity, Safety and Inclusivity While Promoting Gracious Behaviour

05 Mar 2024In Parliament
1.     Chairman, one of our key focuses this year is to enhance liveability through our transport system. We do this by balancing multiple considerations such as connectivity, safety, inclusivity, while also promoting gracious behaviour.

Enhancing Connectivity

2.     To enhance connectivity, we are pressing on with the expansion of our cycling path network. We are on track to meet our target of 1,300km of cycling paths by 2030. 

3.     LTA will construct cycling paths in 23 towns and estates island-wide this year. Mr Ang Wei Neng will be pleased to know that this will include estates in Jurong West. With that, all 27 HDB towns and estates will have cycling paths by the end of this year.
Enhancing Safety and Inclusivity

4.     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. We would often need to share paths. When doing so, the safety of all path users is critical. Where necessary, we will step up our public education efforts, tighten our regulations and carry out appropriate enforcement. 

5.     Mr Gerald Giam may wish to know that we take a multi-pronged approach to shape desirable behaviours and norms among all path users. One is through targeted efforts such as the Path Safety Programme for schools, and wider public education campaigns like the Move Happy Graciousness Campaign. We also work with stakeholders such as the Singapore Road Safety Council, or SRSC, and the Traffic Police to educate Singaporeans on path and road safety tips through posters, events and social media. The Chairman of the SRSC, Chief Executive of LTA and the Traffic Police Commander are also members of the Active Mobility Advisory Panel, or AMAP. On the ground, our Active Mobility Enforcement Officers and volunteer Active Mobility Community Ambassadors also reach out to path users and the community to promote gracious behaviour. 

6.     Mr Lim Biow Chuan, Mr Dennis Tan and other MPs had asked about regulations on the use of PMAs. As earlier mentioned by Minister, the Government accepts AMAP’s recommendations on PMA regulations. They were put up after careful consideration and in consultation with various stakeholders. In arriving at this decision, the Government’s key consideration is to ensure that users with genuine needs for PMAs continue to be able to use them, while ensuring the safety of all path users. 

PMA Engagements

7.     We had engaged key stakeholders, including the National Delivery Champions Association, food delivery platforms, PMA retailers, and social service agencies working with seniors and Persons with Disabilities or PWDs. Various members of the public have also written in to share their views and concerns. We would like to thank all stakeholders for their feedback. 

8.     Generally, stakeholders understood the intent of AMAP’s recommendations and supported them. Nonetheless, there were some concerns raised and these have been invaluable in our assessment of AMAP’s recommendations. They will also help us better implement them. I will address these concerns later in my speech.

9.     Let me first assure Ms Poh Li San that we are targeting for these regulations to only come into effect around 2025, after amendments are made to the Active Mobility Act. This will give affected retailers and users at least one full year from today to make transitory arrangements. In fact, we had first announced that AMAP was reviewing PMA regulations back in 2022. AMAP completed its review and published its recommendations in December 2023. We will announce the specific implementation timelines later but let me assure Members that ensuring a smooth transition is a key priority. 

New PMA Regulations

10.    Our footpaths today are mainly used by pedestrians, with the exception of some wheeled devices, such as bicycles and PMAs. Among these, PMAs are the only motorised devices allowed, and they are typically larger and can even be more than five times heavier than bicycles. We allow them to access more locations, such as void decks and lifts, as we know that they are used by those who are less mobile.  

11.    In this context, there is a need to ensure that PMAs are used by those who really need them, and in a safe and responsible manner. This is what our regulations aim to achieve. 

Reduction in Speed Limit

a.     First, the speed limit of all PMAs will be lowered from 10 to 6 km/h. Some have shared that this may be too slow. For some perspective, 10 km/h is  running speed, whereas our typical walking speed is between 4 and 6 km/h. 6 km/h is a brisk walking speed and it is definitely not an average walking speed, as mentioned by Mr Dennis Tan. It is a speed that even some able-bodied people may not be able to sustain for an extended period. 

b.     We understand that many existing PMAs have a speed limit of 10 km/h. There is no need for existing users to stop using or replace their current devices, they just need to ride no faster than 6 km/h. 

c.     When they next replace their PMA, the new device should have a speed limit of 6 km/h.

d.     Meanwhile, there are various ways for users to gauge their speeds and ensure they are within the limits. They can use free mobile applications, or get a speedometer for less than $10. More simply, if you find yourself riding faster than those walking around you, you are likely to be above the limit.

PMA Dimension Limits on Public Paths

e.     Secondly, we will align PMA dimension restrictions on public paths with the rules in place on public transport. This follows the principle that PMAs are meant to replace walking and that they are welcome on public transport for longer commutes. However, given space constraints on buses and the maximum weight that can be supported by our bus ramps, these PMAs must be within stipulated dimensions. Going forward, PMAs used on public paths should not exceed a width of 70cm, a length of 120cm, a height of 150cm and a laden weight of 300kg. This will allow users to seamlessly transit between public paths and public transport.

f.     We do know that a small proportion of users need larger PMAs due to their physical conditions. Enforcement officers will exercise discretion if they are used on public paths. However, due to physical limitations as mentioned above, these over-sized devices will still not be allowed on public transport. 

Certification Requirement for Mobility Scooters

g.     Before I move on to talk about the certification requirement, it is important to make a distinction between the two main types of PMAs, which are mobility scooters and motorised wheelchairs. Generally, we have received feedback about the misuse and abuse of mobility scooters, which are three or more-wheeled devices steered by a handlebar at the front of the device. Whereas motorised wheelchair looks like a wheelchair. 

h.     To address this, only users who are certified to have relevant medical or physical needs, such as walking difficulties, would be allowed to use mobility scooters. 

i.     The new regulations will not be onerous for users. First, this regulation will only be applied to mobility scooter users, which means those using motorised wheelchairs will not be affected. Second, we will also recognise existing forms of certification, so that users need not obtain a separate one. For instance, PWDs and seniors with mobility scooters subsidised under the Assistive Technology Fund and Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund, will not be required to obtain additional certification. Third, we will work with the relevant agencies to identify other forms of certification; and keep the process for obtaining them simple.

j.     Lastly, let me emphasize that these regulations will only take effect after legislative amendments are made around 2025. We will provide a transition period to give users ample time to obtain certification. There is no need for users to rush to obtain certification. Enforcement officers will also exercise discretion on the ground. 

k.     Ms Poh Li San and Mr Dennis Tan asked whether we can automatically qualify seniors above a certain age to use PMAs. We do not intend to do so as there are many seniors today who have no difficulty walking, and we want to encourage them to keep walking to stay active and healthy. This is in line with our Age Well SG initiative to enhance our commuter infrastructure for walking, as announced by SMS Khor earlier.

Transition and Support for Affected PMA Users 

12.    Chairman, I would now like to continue my speech in Mandarin. 近几年来,公众提出了许多有关行动辅助工具被滥用的反馈和关切。这些辅助工具本应由有行走困难的人士使用,却遭到四肢健全的人滥用。他们不仅排挤了真正有需要的人士,在驾驶这些工具时也往往更快速、更鲁莽。

13.    为了确保这些行动辅助工具的采纳和使用能够安全持续,政府将采取三项措施。首先,使用者必须持有医疗证明,才能继续使用行动辅助踏板车。使用电动轮椅的人士将不需要医疗证明。其次,我们将把行动辅助工具的速度限制降低至每小时6公里 -这与快步行走的速度相似。第三,为了让使用者能够顺利登搭公共交通,行动辅助工具必须符合公共交通所允许的尺寸。我们理解有些使用者基于各种原因,如医疗需求或体型等,需要更大的辅助工具。只要有医疗证明,我们将允许例外。我们也想在此重申,为了安全起见,辅助工具只能设有一个座位,只供单人骑行。

14.    新条例将在2025年左右,在修改活跃通勤法令后生效。政府将确保使用者和销售商有足够的过渡时间顺应新的条例,也确保新的条例不会对真正有需要者造成无谓的负担。

15.    Chairman, from now to implementation next year, we will continue to engage stakeholders and help affected users understand the new rules and transition smoothly. Ms Yeo Wan Ling would be pleased to know that we will also work with the various platforms and agencies to support the small number who are currently using their PMA for livelihood purposes. In the meantime, retailers will be able to clear existing stock, but they should stop bringing in new PMAs that do not have a 6km/h speed limit. Individuals who do not have walking difficulties should refrain from purchasing PMAs. 

AMAP’s Focus for this Term

16.    This term, AMAP will continue its momentum to promote active mobility in a balanced and sustainable manner through two key priorities. 

17.    First, AMAP will review the weight criteria for active mobility devices. Over the past few years, we have received suggestions to increase the weight limit for these devices. A recent study done by the team in Nanyang Technological University also suggests that some power-assisted bicycles, or PABs, which are within the current weight limit may not be as stable, making them potentially less safe. Particularly, PABs equipped with small wheels or built with small frames tend to be more prone to skidding and could increase the risk of accidents. This will be studied very carefully, considering the various trade-offs that must be made, including the impact on other path and road users.

18.    Secondly, AMAP will focus on promoting the wider take-up of active mobility as a healthy and sustainable mode of travel, with gracious user behaviour and safety in mind. This could include rides in the community, or larger-scale events such as the upcoming Car-Free Sunday. Engagement efforts will focus on fostering mutual understanding among various path and road users, for example through ongoing dialogue with cyclists and motorists to promote a culture of safety on roads. AMAP plans to engage the elderly, PwDs, young children and many more in its outreach efforts.

19.    While we review regulations and expand our cycling infrastructure, it is equally important for us to behave graciously not just on our paths, but on public transport as well. We can all play a part to make daily commutes a pleasant experience for ourselves and others.

Inculcating an Inclusive Public Transport System 

20.    To encourage gracious and caring commuting, new audio announcements have been implemented at public transport nodes in 2023. They will be rolled out across approximately 2,000 buses that are equipped with speakers from the second quarter of this year. 
21.    These new audio announcements will include messages to encourage commuters to offer their seats to those who need them more, and to make space for wheelchair users, serving as timely reminders for us to look out for more vulnerable commuters.

22.    I previously announced the introduction of a visual communication tool which uses illustrations of common scenarios, such as “ticketing” and “emergency”, for non-verbal commuters to obtain assistance. This would be deployed at MRT stations and bus interchanges to allow public transport staff to better understand the needs of these commuters. I am happy to share that LTA had concluded their trial and is working on enhancing the communication card to address ground feedback and to better suit the needs of users. 

23.    Besides hardware improvements, Mr Eric Chua would be happy to know that we are also pressing on with efforts to promote an inclusive and caring commuting culture, and propel the Caring SG Commuters movement forward with our partners. To date, we have worked with over 100 partners, including schools, social service agencies, and corporates. Over the past year, they partnered with our public transport operators on several initiatives to grow a more caring commuter mindset.   
a.     For example, our partners supported SBST’s "Travel with Confidence" program, which offers a Travel Buddy service. Volunteer Travel Buddies help commuters with disabilities navigate the public transport system by sharing useful travel information and practical tips.
b.     Go Ahead Singapore has collaborated with Metta School to develop publicity materials, creating awareness of the challenges faced by Metta students during their commute, and how others can lend a hand.

c.     Since 2021, Tower Transit has offered a Public Bus Confidence Course to help people with mobility challenges board, travel on, and alight buses safely. Over the years, they have run the course for more commuters with disabilities, to help them gain confidence to use public transport.

d.     Public Transport Council, MINDS, Youth Corps Singapore (YCS) and SMRT co-created the Travel Makers programme to instil confidence in students with intellectual disabilities to be able to take public transport more independently. Under the programme, volunteers guided MINDS students from their schools back home via public transport. 

24.    Mr Ong Hua Han asked if information and support would be provided to PwDs and elderly during times of train disruption. In such an event, station staff are deployed to guide and assist commuters. In addition to public announcements, related information is displayed on Passenger Information Displays and physical signages. Rail operators are also exploring the use of more digital display screens in stations to serve as visual aids for commuters.  

25.    Beyond these initiatives, individual acts of care can make a big difference. When an elderly man in his sixties fell unconscious at Canberra MRT Station, Dr Lee Wei Sheng and Mr Kelvin Tan stepped forward to resuscitate the man, taking turns with the station staff to administer CPR until the paramedics arrived. The elderly man has since recovered. Such proactive and selfless acts make a profound impact on people’s lives.

26.    Every commuter can play a part in looking out for others. The Caring Commuters Champions initiative, launched in 2021, aims to train volunteers to better assist fellow commuters in need. I am happy to share that more than 14,000 volunteers have completed the training as of December 2023. I would like to encourage more commuters to be certified as Champions by participating in the online training course. You too can make a difference to your fellow commuters.


27.    Mr Chairman, ensuring everyone can undertake their daily commute safely and with ease is part of what makes Singapore a liveable city. This is also in line with the shared desire, among many participants of the Forward SG exercise, for a more inclusive transport system. To make this a reality, it is vital for all of us to join hands, show consideration and concern for our fellow travellers, to create a journey that is not only efficient but delightful.  

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