Micromobility furore creates opportunity for industry-government engagement to benefit riders, cities and country
By Karamjit Singh July 5, 2022
- Data driven, transparent engagement will clear way for good regulations
- Futurise organised panel with Beam Mobility, OoGyaa Mobility & TRYKE
It was not on the radar before but the Malaysian Ministry of Transport ban on micromobility vehicles over safety concerns has become a talking point now. The ban came into force on 17 Dec 2021 but only hit users, micromobility providers and the headlines on 26 April when the Minister of Transport, Wee Ka Siong had a press conference on the matter.
With the nature of news today and ever shorter attention spans being what they are, the impression is that this is a total ban on micromobility, but that is not the case. It is actually specific to banning usage of the vehicles on public roads while allowing them in areas where there is no mixture of traffic involving various vehicles. Examples would be open air public spaces such as parks or even zoos.
Incidently, the ban was not even triggered by any incident involving shared micromobility users. It was actually due to individual micromobility e-scooter owners who modified their machines – and started racing on public roads, causing great concern.
Speaking of public roads, there is a caveat to the ban by the ministry. Usage on roads can actually be considered – if local authorities provide the needed infrastructure and facilities that support safe usage. Dedicated bicycles lanes and smooth pavements being a key feature.
That’s good news, right? Not really. Just ask the three key micromobility players in Malaysia who all say they are hurting now because of the ban. The three players, Beam Mobility, OoGyaa Mobility and TRYKE Transportation and their key executives were brought together for a panel session on “Making Micromobility Safe in Malaysia, in early June by Futurise Sdn Bhd in Cyberjaya.
The micromobility issue and controversy around it was the ideal opportunity for Futurise, with its mission to expedite regulatory intervention, deploy innovation and technology in establishing new innovation ecosystems, to intervene and bring relevant stakeholders together for engagement.
And to be sure, it is not just the operators who are hurting. Urban users who have come to rely on the convenience of this cheap, convenient and green form of short distance transport are displeased and some workers have been let go, both full time and part time.
Then there is the credibility hit to the country’s stated ambitions to build a clean, green, innovation and technology led economy. And what of the bold statement of ambition to being the Heartbeat of Digital ASEAN?
“Entrepreneurs and founders will be anxious and fearful that they could be regulated our of existence,” says Timothy Wong, founder of TRYKE.
“I am here because I believe in the promise of Malaysia but such a ban could kill this nascent sector,” says Australian Humayun Razzaq, founder of OoGyaa Mobility, adding that globally, more and more cities now see micromobility as a viable and green answer to their congestion challenges.
Acknowledging Malaysia’s ambitions in wanting to be a regional leader, hence the bold tagline, Taty Azman, manager, Public Affairs, Beam Mobility says, “While regulatory landscape for micromobility is still in the consultation stage, the Malaysian government has the opportunity to put its regional leadership ambitions into practise.”
She believes the government can use the micromobility issue to encourage all stakeholders to be open to innovation towards the goal of building a tech enabled green economy to make the nation and its cities more competitive and cleaner.
Time to talk
“Let’s talk to resolve the issues,” says Humayoon who also acknowledges that it is time the operators came together to form an association to speak in one voice to the various levels of government, be it federal, state and local authority.
Taty, speaking with the benefit of Beam being the largest micromobility player in Asia Pacific with a presence in five countries and 35 cities and growing, notes that what’s happening in Malaysia is not an uncommon issue to the micromobility sector.
With different issues as play for each city, and make no mistake, micromobility is a city level issue with local authorities being the key stakeholders for operators, consultative and collaborative talks, guided by data, have been proven to be the way forward, she says.
“Likewise in Malaysia, I believe that industry and government can come together to form consensus to move forward. The wheels are already turning as well,” she says.
“Now that they are focusing on this, it is the best time to share data and our experiences with the authorities. Let’s get started,” says Timothy.
Curiously, the government’s stated concern over rider and public safety in this issue is not reflected in the data. 0.007% or one incident in 100,00 rides for Beam, 0.05% for TRYKE which has been operating since 2019 and five incidents for OoGyaa Mobility which only launched in Dec.
Compare this to Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) data that shows 1% of all motorbikes get into accidents (140,000) with 10% resulting in fatalities. There have been zero fatalities from micromobility rides. Clearly industry and players must come together for transparent, data driven communication and resolution solving.
In that vein, Rosihan Zain Baharudin, Futurise CEO, said that the stage is set for a regulatory sandbox to look into regulatory impediments on micromobility, ensure public safety and to create a set of standards for the emerging industry.
“The sandbox will create a conducive space for the micro mobility players to innovate within or outside the existing regulatory framework and allows important insight to be collected and be used for further action and for the betterment of the Malaysian people,” he said.
Indeed, a week after the micromobility panel, Transport Minister, Wee announced that detailed guidelines on the use of micromobility vehicles will be prepared by the Town and Country Planning Department (PlanMalaysia). Wee said this following a dialogue session with associations and micro-mobility vehicle operators on June 12.
Micromobility players are helping that this upcoming announcement will lay clear and transparent guidelines and rules that will help the industry regain its growth momentum in Malaysia.
Related Stories :