The Case For PMDs
Updated: Apr 24
Most Singaporeans would be familiar with the terms Personal Mobility Device (PMD) or E-scooters due to the prevalent usage of these devices in recent years. In this article, we will refer to the general term PMD.
While we often see these devices being used for food deliveries or young punks blasting Manyao EDM whizzing around your neighborhood, these devices also provide aid to those who have reduced mobility. As such, PMDs have become a convenient and fairly inexpensive alternative to traditional transport modes like buses or cars, or the MRT.
1. Change is the only constant in life
The official banning of e-scooters’ use on footpaths as of 5 November 2019 was announced on 4 November 2019. That gave the public only 1 day to prepare for this drastic change.
The following experience is probably a common one for many of us; you cautiously watch out for vehicles while crossing the road and expect it to be safe when you finally reach the pedestrian’s walkway.
Instead, you’re almost hit by a speeding e-scooter the moment you let down your guard.
This sudden ban of e-scooters can be likened to the above experience - it happened out of the blue and many e-scooter riders did not see it coming, much less be prepared for it.
A one day notice is all it takes for things to change.
In the same way with our lives, there are bound to be changes.
Changes may come expectantly or unexpectedly.
How will you deal with changes in life?
Are you prepared for sudden changes?
In an economy and world that is ever changing, do you ever re-evaluate your financial portfolio to see if it is still relevant now?
2. No one owes you a living
A group of about 70 food delivery riders has appealed with a proposal to set up a six-month probation period for them to use e-scooters on footpaths or roads as part of their work.
Some have taken to social media platforms like Facebook to express their grievances and feelings of uncertainty about their income resulting from this sudden ban.
A petition for the government to reverse this ban gained nearly 25,000 signatures.
The government has responded with a $7m trade-in grant for the affected food delivery riders to switch to other devices, such as power-assisted bicycles or manual bicycles.
Yet, the fact of the matter is that we should be in control of our own lives.
In the event of financial crises and unfortunate circumstances which will require high medical costs, there are 4 ways to get the necessary funds;
Borrowing money from friends and family
Payouts from insurance and investments
Which one will you choose to depend on?
Do you think relying on others or yourself financially is more sustainable?
Take responsibility of your financial life now.
3. No one solution fits all
Before the ban;
69,000 have signed a petition against PMDs.
After the ban;
Nearly 25,000 have signed a petition urging the government to reverse the PMD ban on footpaths within 24 hours.
Without the ban, pedestrians would feel unsafe and be inconvenienced on footpaths. Those who called for a ban of PMDs proclaim that they want to walk safely and freely on designated footpaths.
With the ban, the PMD riders are affected. This is especially so for food delivery riders, as their livelihood is at stake.
It is estimated that over 1,300 food delivery riders could get hit by this e-scooter ban.
It seems like there is no way to compromise with a solution that ensures everyone is satisfied.
Isn't it the same in life?
There may be no one solution that fits all.
Often, when we decide to focus on one aspect of our lives, it comes with sacrifices from other aspects.
There will be fans and haters.
Even for our financial portfolio, there is a trade-off between risk and gain.
We need to strike a balance between protection and accumulation.
No one financial status is the same. That’s why we will design and customize a plan that will suit your needs and wants.
4. Ban may be the easy way out
The announcement of this ban sparked off a nationwide debate. The fact that many Singaporeans earn a steady income through food deliveries which are done on PMDs is the highlight of many of these discussions, as these food delivery riders can no longer rely on their devices to complete their jobs.
Many others have also expressed their empathy and support for these riders, some stating that the “black sheep” young punks who ride the PMDs irresponsibly are to be blamed for adversely affecting careers of food delivery riders.
It seems that the easy way out is to give in to the public petition to ban the PMD, without seeking for an alternative.
However, some have voiced their opinions that this method of solving the issue is too shallow and does not nip the problem at its root. In fact, it only causes more problems such as food delivery riders’ income being negatively affected, which then had to be rectified using the $7m trade-in grant.
This is like the old Dutch proverb about a boy who sticks his finger in the leaking hole of a dam, only to be overwhelmed by even more leaking holes.
For our lives, the easy way out may be giving up completely on our dreams and visions, and just continue staying in our comfort zones.
Taking the first step out of our comfort zone is usually the hardest, though it is the most crucial step that can change the course of your life.
Similarly for our financial plans, it is usually not a hot topic for discussion. Financial related conversations are usually avoided. It also seems that most would take the easy way of not doing anything to change their financial status.
However, let’s keep in mind that ignoring problems does not mean they will disappear.
Sooner or later, the problems will catch up to us. By then, if we’re lucky, we might be able to do something about it.
But if we’re not that lucky, it may be too late.
5. Without rules and regulations there may be chaos
Here are some of the essential laws governing the use of PMDs in Singapore:
The Active Mobility Act (AMA) governs the use of these devices on public paths and came into full effect on 1 May 2018. Riders of e-scooters and other PMDs can be fined, jailed or have their devices seized should they fail to comply with the governing rights and obligations.
Following this, it became compulsory for persons aged 16 and above to register their PMDs with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) from 2 January 2019.
From 1 July 2020 onwards, all PMDs (including e-scooters) intended for use on public paths must comply with the UL2272 fire safety standard.
All these laws may seem overwhelming.
Unfortunately, the widespread use of PMDs and ease of accessing one by almost anyone brought along many cases of accidents, mostly due to speeding and thus knocking into pedestrians.
The especially notable case of a 65-year-old cyclist who died after colliding with an e-scooter spurred many calls for more safety measures and even petitions for bans on PMDs.
All these led to a ban on their use on footpaths which has been implemented as of 5 November 2019.
The younger generation in Singapore have their own definition of success.
They crave memorable and purposeful experiences that emphasize the importance of the journey, instead of focusing on the end goal.
The youths want to be excited about where they live, work and play, encapsulated by the You Only Live Once (YOLO) attitude.
The idea is that they live only for today and let tomorrow look after itself, without any rules and regulations governing their lives.
Are Millennials making a mistake with their YOLO mentality and lifestyle?
Everyone, Millennials included, can live fabulous and not be fabulously broke. Everyone, Millennials included, can have the lives they want, including traveling, by using the right tools and managing your expectations properly.
With some rules and regulations, there can be true financial freedom.
Will you enjoy now and suffer in the future?
Or will you suffer now and enjoy in the future?
6. The need for diversification
E-scooter businesses may suffer losses of up to $1.5 million, retrenchment and closure with footpath ban.
‘Zero’ or slow sales of PMDs since e-scooter ban on footpaths, say several retailers.
The business is performing poorly and there are stockpiles of unsold goods not moving.
It may be a good business strategy to launch a sales during the annual Single Day event on 11 November following the hype and rise of PMDs. Yet because of one single decision on the government, most did not even sell a single device.
Is it wise to put all our eggs in one basket?
If you want to achieve steady growth throughout your investment journey, you should invest in different areas. You can diversify across asset classes, industries, geographies, credit ratings, and credit terms. This means you can invest in different funds to achieve truly diversified global exposure.
You don’t just buy one fund, or one plan, and say you’re done.
Remember to continuously make changes to your asset allocation as you invest more money over the years and get closer to retirement.
7. The need for insurance
Vehicle accidents can be costly, and often involve multiple third parties.
Also, property damage may not be confined to the driver’s car.
These types of third party damages are referred to as liabilities.
These accident costs can be hair-raising, so car insurance is mandatory to ensure that vehicle owners can afford to pay.
And yet for PMDs, it is not compulsory for the riders to purchase a third party liability insurance.
Some riders would prefer to just insure themselves. As long as their own property and health are protected, they don’t really care about what happens to others.
How many people would pay for insurance to protect strangers or public property?
Insurance is there to keep the economy in place.
What is your take on this whole issue?
I personally do not support the behavior of some PMD users, but at the same time I also do not support the sudden blanket ban of PMDs.
We have to preserve lives and we have to preserve livelihoods.
As we move forward, let’s learn from the saga and work towards building a better future for ourselves.