Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak took to Facebook to call on the government to facilitate the use of micromobility vehicles instead of banning them.
In April, the government announced that certain micromobility vehicles would be banned from being used on roads. The ban involved mopeds, personal mobility aids (i.e. motorised wheelchairs, mobility scooters) and personal mobility devices (i.e. e-scooters, hoverboards, skateboards, kick scooters). Bicycles and e-bicycles are exempt from the ruling although users will still need to comply with the existing rules under the Road Transport Act and Road Traffic Rules.
In his post on the social media site, Najib said that an optimum and effective relationship between first and last mile connectivity was important for the success of public transport systems such as buses and rail transit (LRT, KTM Komuter, Monorail, MRT).
“The use of micromobility vehicles can play an important role in the success of first mile and last mile connectivity,” he said. To facilitate the of micromobility vehicles, Najib suggested that the government impose a condition on such vehicles that they meet the necessary safety approvals before they are sold here.
Micromobility vehicles refer to those powered by electricity, an internal combustion engine, or human power, or human power combined with any of the previously mentioned two, with a maximum speed of 50 km/h.
Najib said that these vehicles should be categorised according to the five in-city modes of transport, namely walking, cycling, motorcycle, car and bus. In the case of smaller micromobility vehicles capable of speeds not much more than walking, he said these should be allowed for use on pedestrian walkways. Meanwhile, vehicles that are closer to bicycles should be allowed for use on existing bicycle routes and beyond.
According to a report by The Sun, the transport ministry (MoT) is working closely with the ministry of housing and local government (KPKT) to draft the guidelines for the use of micromobility vehicles.
“The micromobility vehicles are under the purview of the MoT and as such, we have control (over the use of the vehicles) on the roads. For areas other than the roads, it is up to KPKT to establish guidelines in deciding where can such vehicles be used,” said Mike Chong Yew Chuan, special functions officer to the transport minister.
“MoT has never implemented a complete ban on the use of such vehicles. Members of the public can still use them, but only at designated places to be determined by KPKT and local authorities (PBT),” he added.
Najib also said in his post that micromobility vehicle users who act irresponsibly and disrupt other road users or pedestrians would be faced with heavy penalties and punishment. Najib ended by saying that facilitating the use micromobility vehicles is important for the success of public transport, which the government has heavily invested in to reduce traffic congestion in the city.
The issue of micromobility vehicles surfaced last year when a viral video on social media showed a man riding an e-scooter on a busy public road, leading the transport ministry to gazette the current ban under the Road Traffic (Prohibition of Use of Certain Microbility Vehicles) Rules 2021, which came into effect on December 17, 2021.
Singapore followed a similar path much earlier, banning the use of personal mobility devices (PMDs) on all sidewalks in November 2019 due to the rise in e-scooter-related injuries and deaths. Even through PMDs are banned from footpaths, such devices can still be used on cycling paths and the Park Connector Network in the country.
Do you agree with Najib’s statement? Should the government focus more on facilitating the use of micromobility vehicles rather than implementing a blanket ban? Share your thoughts in the comments below.