Making it safer on the roads for all

An escooter user riding in one lane of Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, alongside cars. — Photos: SAMUEL ONG and IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

KUALA Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) will be drawing up a comprehensive guideline to regulate the use of micromobility vehicles in the city following the ban on such machines on public roads.

DBKL now has the unenviable task of drawing up guidelines and by-laws on the use of vehicles in that category such as electric scooters (escooters) at parks, footpaths, pavements and any public areas under its jurisdiction.

The by-laws will address the use of different types of electric scooters, including the implementation of licences for users and suppliers and escooter sharing companies.

DBKL Socio-economic Development executive director Datuk Anwar Mohd Zain said the local authority was aware of its responsibilities to implement and regulate new laws on micromobility vehicles but needed time to draft the guidelines.

“Give us time. We need to look at this closely and come up with something beneficial and safe for everyone,’’ he said when contacted by StarMetro.

“Key to this is also ensuring that the infrastructure is in place when the guidelines are implemented.”

So until then, micromobility vehicles are prohibited on city roads, public parks, five-foot ways and pedestrian walkways in Kuala Lumpur.

On April 26, the government banned the use of certain types of micromobility vehicles on public roads.

Citing safety reasons, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said the prohibition involved mopeds as well as personal mobility vehicles including electric scooters and those with internal combustion engines.

The ministry, however, has allowed the disabled community to use motorised wheelchairs on bicycle lanes and cross roads even where there are no zebra crossings.

What this means to the man on the street is that all types of escooters, electric bicycles or ebikes, unicycles, skateboards and hoverboards are no longer allowed on public roads.

These things can only be used in areas that have been gazetted by the respective local authorities.

In Kuala Lumpur, there is an existing ban on electric scooters on roads by the police but with the national ban, the ministry now calls on the respective local governments to manage and regulate the usage of micromobility devices.

‘Ban is good’

“It is a nuisance and it is dangerous,” said photographer Brian Moh. He believes the use of these micromobility machines needs to be nipped in the bud.

He recalled his harrowing experience driving in the city centre recently.

“A child riding an escooter came out of nowhere. It was dark and he was moving so fast,” he said.

He added that he dreaded to think what could have happened if he didn’t react quick enough.

Realtor Shamini M. said escooters dominating the pavements and pedestrian lanes made her feel unsafe.

“They weave in and out of lanes with little care for rules and personal safety.

“I have seen two people on one escooter, sometimes children, and they don’t wear helmets and protective gear.

“They should be taken off the streets,” she added.

Enforcement needed

Due to the lack of regulation and enforcement, there has been a proliferation of escooter sharing services in Kuala Lumpur.

Shared micromobility vehicles, especially escooters, are popping up in increasing numbers everywhere.

Head downtown to the Kuala Lumpur city centre in the evenings and one can see hundreds of people riding two-wheelers, zigzagging through traffic, pedestrian walkways and parks.

You can spot children as young as 12 using escooters on roads.

Personal Electric Vehicle Association (PEV Malaysia) president Edi Khushairy Abdul Kadir said the issue was with people using electric scooter sharing services who gave genuine users a bad name.

“Such vehicles are popular because of their convenience and portability,” he said.

Aimee Nurhaneem, who enjoys using her favourite unicycle to get around at parks, said she would suit up in safety gear before going out.

“I spent thousands of ringgit on a helmet, elbow and knee pads for personal protection because I am a responsible user,” she said.

Self-employed Happy Garden resident Christoper Chong said the escooters were handy during the height of the movement control order.

“My trips are within a 5km radius,” he added.

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