Personal Mobility Devices (PMD), specifically e-scooter use, has been a hot-button topic recently, with passionate views on both sides of the debate.
On one hand, we still read about tragic accidents caused by reckless e-scooter usage. Despite the recent introduction of regulations to manage its usage, a minority of e-scooter owners continue to disregard these rules: They speed recklessly above allowable limits, often riding a vehicle that is too large, too heavy and “pimped” up in risky ways that later on becomes a fire hazard. These anti-social behaviours end up causing citizens to feel unsafe around e-scooters.
On the other hand, they are a sustainable mode of transportation that help cities flow better. E-scooters will help Singapore reduce its reliance on cars and further improve access to public transportation via first and last mile connectivity.
I’m a firm believer in the long-term benefits of e-scooters -
It’s why I co-founded Beam.
To call for a blanket ban on these new personal mobility devices that are inherently good for cities would be to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Allowing e-scooters to become a mobility tool of the future need not be a zero sum game where improved accessibility for riders comes at the cost of public safety.
E-scooters used in a sharing services, like what Beam provides, offers a viable solution.
Using technological smarts, we remove the option for users to ride our e-scooters recklessly. While we continue to invest in educating users to ride safely, we do not leave that discretion solely in their hands. Instead we use cutting edge technology and best-in-class operations to nip reckless riding in the bud, before they even have a chance to start - here is how:
1) Unparalleled Vehicle Quality and Maintenance: All of our e-scooters consistently meet the highest quality and safety standards, and we constantly test and retest each scooter. Every Beam scooter we use in Singapore meets important LTA requirements like UL2272 (protects against the explosions in homes we see with low-quality e-scooters), maximum motor power and a weight of 20 kgs or less. More importantly, the e-scooters are built from the ground up for safety. We inspect every scooter each time we charge them.
2) Enforced, Intelligent Speed Limits: Our e-scooters strictly enforced speed limits to meet regulations - Many of the worst accidents happen from e-scooters riders riding at absurdly high speeds (Eg. >30km/hr). That will never happen on a Beam e-scooter because we automatically impose a cap the speed of all our devices - every single Beam vehicle allows us to regulate for an appropriate speed, acceleration, and where it can be ridden. In some high foot-traffic area, Beam e-scooters are even pre-programmed for “low-speed zones” and “no-ride zones” - upon entering such areas, a rider on a Beam e-scooter will be informed to turn around or take an alternative route and the e-scooter will grind to a halt. In the event of unsafe weather conditions, we often further decrease the speed limit or even turn off the service to prevent unsafe riding.
3) Translating Data Insights To “Nudge” Behaviours: A Beam e-scooter is part of an IOT sharing network. We track, store and maintain the data generated from every trip that is made on a Beam e-scooter in a responsible and secure manner. While we occasionally work with law enforcement to help in the investigation of crimes, we use the insights and information gleaned from these data to make operational decisions. These includes offering ‘nudge’ incentives to reward certain behaviour or deploying where our e-scooters are most needed.
More research is emerging that prove that the big data generated can be used to accurately detect unsafe riding, or even raise a red flag to us when someone is riding under the influence of alcohol. Beam is looking into these emerging innovations, which could be translated into features that will make e-scooter even safer for all citizens.
4) Personal accident insurance coverage: We are the first operator to provide a group personal accident policy to cover eligible e-scooter riders. This is an important step in realising our commitment to safety and ensuring that our riders have a peace of mind when using our services.
We’re Beam, and we truly believe we can enable e-scooter usage without compromising the safety of citizens. Given the opportunity to operate a sharing service with our technology, we can bring safety to e-scooter usage in Singapore.
CTO @ Beam