Although its draft version was criticised by Australian bicycle advocacy organisations for its lack of firm commitment from governments, it should provide an interesting resource for bicycle transport advocates in Singapore where we are just taking baby steps on policy for bicycles as transport.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Park connectors are all very well but many of us need to cycle on the road and in my opinion one of the most dangerous and unpleasant things about
So I am happy that there are signs (literally) that stricter enforcement of speed limits is coming soon. I notice that speed limit signs are appearing all over the place. These are the result of a nationwide review of speed limits.
This review came about after motorist complaints when the Traffic Police started to use mobile speed cameras about a year ago to catch speeding motorists on ordinary arterials, such as Upper Bukit Timah Rd (see a series of Straits Times Forum letters in early February 2005). This led to complaints that the speed limits were too low and that they were not clearly sign-posted.
I would have preferred many of the old 50km/h speed limits to remain. But at least, since motorists' complaints having now been addressed, I hope the Traffic Police will soon be strictly enforcing the new speed limits. I also hope that they do so on all roads with speeding problems, and not just a short list of main roads.
I also hope that the needs of cyclists are taken into account in any speed limit reviews.
Friday, November 25, 2005
The original image can be downoaded from the NParks Webpage at snipurl.com/parkconn.
The original image can be downoaded from the NParks Webpage at snipurl.com/parkconn.
Read: Evolution of a BikeTrail By lingthemerciless. The Adventures of Ling the Merciless, 23 Nov 2005.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
T5. Bicycle policy neglect is not working
Serious effort is needed to come up with a coherent policy on bicycles. Despite being a small part of our land transport system, bicycles potentially have a useful part to play with low costs and low impacts on others. Much can be done to make cycling safer and more attractive without requiring much space (and even if we build no bicycle lanes). Bicycle safety should be considered in all road designs because even if pavement cycling becomes legal many bicycles will continue to be ridden on roads.
The Physical Development Feedback Group will be presenting the final recommendation paper at the Feedback Unit's Annual Conference for Feedback Groups to be held on 21 Jan 2006.
Thanks to Chu Wa for the alert.
Complete version from the paper:
T5. Bicycle policy neglect is not working
Bicycle safety again hit the news several times in 2005 in embarrassing and tragic ways.
• We lack a coherent policy towards bicycles as a part of the transport system. LTA is the leading land transport policy agency but so far the LTA has seemed reluctant to provide leadership in this area, to take primary responsibility for bicycle policy or to take bicycles seriously in general.
• We suggest that the LTA commission a serious study of the policy options on bicycles. Bicycle policy involves more than ‘bicycle lanes’ and includes software issues of education, enforcement, encouragement as well as engineering (hardware) issues. We still need a coherent policy even if we decide not to encourage bicycles as much as European or Japanese cities do.
• Bicycle use is ignored in transport data collection. Cycling in certain parts of the island (for example, the east and north and in many parks) and for certain purposes (eg trips to MRT and especially for leisure) appears to be increasing but it is difficult to know for sure. We should include bicycles in all travel surveys
• In practice, many bicycle users ride on pavements (which is currently illegal but with the prohibition not enforced) while some use the roads. MP Irene Ng suggested making pavement cycling legal (as in Japan) and the Traffic Police are reviewing this issue. However, even if pavement cycling becomes legal, many bicycles will continue to be ridden on roads (bicycles may appear on any road that is legally open to them).
• Significant aspects of the road network have been designed without apparent awareness that bicycles will be used on them, thus failing to take responsibility for the safety of a group of legitimate road users. LTA’s road design standards should include a statutory requirement for bicycle safety and convenience to be considered in the design or redesign of every road where bicycles are legal to be ridden (even if no special facilities are provided). Examples of dangerous designs include: multiple left turning lanes (especially when one of these allows for both a left turn or to proceed straight); narrow kerb-side lanes; narrow bus lanes; drainage grates running parallel to traffic; slip road designs that encourage high traffic speeds on left turns; multi-lane roundabouts.
• We suggest that the Traffic Police focus limited enforcement resources on those behaviours (both by motor vehicles and bicycle users) that are most dangerous (a bicycle-safety-focused enforcement strategy). Relevant agencies: LTA, MOT, MHA, Traffic Police
Sunday, November 13, 2005
A 19+km route took cyclists along the northern edge of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, without infringing core areas of the reserve yet keeping cyclists safe from heavy vehicular traffic.
Part of the route included a new trail created by National Parks Board between Upper Peirce Reservoir Park and Upper Thomson Road on scrubland adjacent to Upper Thomson Road.
Monday, November 07, 2005
Contested Streets features new footage of reclaimed streets in London, Paris and Copenhagen and interviews with New York savvy notables such as Ken Jackson, Mike Wallace, Bob Kiley, Majora Carter, Kathryn Wylde, Enrique Penalosa, Eric Britton, James Howard Kunstler and many more.
View a 5 minute trailer of the film.
Another useful tool from the same website, Street for people- your guide to winning safer and quiter streets, contains many practical ideas relates to traffic calming. Some of the ideas are surprisingly simple, econormical and most of all, may be effective in Singapore as well!
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Francis Chu is a cycling evangelist. His decision to abandon his car and to cycle to work is based on his thorough research into the pros and cons. He offers some convincing arguments on how cycling in Singapore makes practical sense, even within the hard-nosed frame of reference used by many transport planners.
For Francis, the biggest factor was health. Cycling improved his fitness dramatically - "Even after just a couple of weeks of cycling, I felt more energetic," he recalls. As a Senior Consultant for Product Design at Philips Design, he knew that modern lifestyles, including the combination of the car with automation and Information Technology, meant that most office workers hardly needed to move much. This lack of exercise, arising from the loss of simple daily tasks, lies at the heart of modern health trends.
Worldwide, transport planners increasingly are aware that there is an economic cost to the rising levels of ailments linked with inactivity.
Francis was first inspired by a sojourn in Holland, possibly the world's leading cycling nation. He also cites the striking turnaround in London following the British Government's commitment to a National Cycling Strategy aimed at quadrupling the number of bicycle trips by 2012.
Significantly, the British Government has signaled that it expects members of the health industry to set an example with their own transport choices.
Francis cycles at about 8:15 a.m. every morning from his Paya Lebar home to Toa Payoh, a journey of about 35 minutes. His workplace provides simple shower cubicles, which helps him to freshen up before starting work. On his return, he cycles to Toa Payoh MRT Station, pushes his single-speed folding bicycle onto the train with him, and then on arrival at Paya Lebar, cycles five minutes from the station to his home.
Viewing the issue with a designer's eyes, Francis reckons that cycling in Singapore would be a lot easier if there were a rethink on road design and if general 'traffic calming' principles were applied. As with the issue of the disabled boarding buses, it's just a matter of society moving a little slower and safer, for a better quality of life.
"Road design here has prioritized cars," says Francis,
"But if you just closed one lane of traffic, immediately the perception of speed is different. Drivers tend to drive faster when they are on a wide, open road; otherwise they feel slow. If a road is narrower, drivers feel everything is moving much faster and tend to slow down. That's safer for everybody, including pedestrians and cyclists. It's the road design that is dangerous, not driver behavior. The planners need to balance the rights of pedestrians and cyclists with those of motorists, and slow down traffic where needed."
Francis also points out that MRT usage would probably go up if there were more cycling; "At the moment, the capture zone' for users of an MRT station is about 800 meters, or what you can walk in 10 minutes, but once you include cyclists, (hat capture radius enlarges by maybe live times." Here are Francis' answers to some commonly voiced concerns about cycling in Singapore:
IT'S TOO DANGEROUS
I cycle about one-third of the time on the pavement, one- third on quiet roads and one-third on park connectors.
From recent debates in Parliament, it looks as though the authorities and Traffic Police are going to relax the laws on cycling on pavements, and in reality cyclists already do it.
The best protection is to avoid getting yourself into a dangerous situation, like when there are lorries or buses. A helmet is effective if you fall off your bike, but in collisions with cars or buses, there's not much proof that it will protect you. Most drivers here are quite friendly but still, it only takes one careless driver... so I cycle very protectively.
SINGAPORE HASN'T GOT ENOUGH LAND TO SPARE FOR DEDICATED BICYCLE PATHS
There's a lot the LTA [Land Transport Authority] can do if they have the motivation, they don't discourage or encourage cycling, but there are other things we can do within our limited space to make cycling safer and more pleasant, without a dedicated bicycle path. If cyclists are to cycle on pavements, they can make the pavement wider often there is grass alongside and that can be cut back a bit.
But the LTA has to make the connection that what they are planning now has an impact on the safety of people, and consider whether they are encouraging an active lifestyle or a passive lifestyle. I think what will really make the switch is when the LTA or the Ministry of Transport start to make the link between transport and its environmental as well as health impact. The Ministry's mission is to move people and goods efficiently; that's all they say their purpose is. Somehow, they and the LTA have fallen behind of her government bodies in their care for the health aspects. But I thinks it will come; it's a just a matter of time.
IT'S TOO HOT
When people complain about (he weather in Singapore for cycling, they are basing it on their walking experience.
Actually, if you're on a bike, you'll notice that it's a very different country! if you walk, it's very easy to feel the heat, because there's not much wind. But if you cycle, you have a bit of breeze and this could be a difference of two degrees Celsius.
IT'S TOO SLOW
Compared to driving, I spend maybe 15 minutes more per day on commuting. And funnily enough, whether I take the MRT or cycle all the way from the office to home, it takes roughly the same time, about 35 minutes, mainly because of the train transfer at the City Hall interchange.
PEOPLE NEED CARS FOR THEIR FAMILIES
I realized that my family too didn't need the car much, and for the few occasions we do need one, we take a taxi or use public transport. Giving up the car has been a big cost saving, about $1,000 a month - that means I can use the money for a holiday instead! We have four folding bikes and I, my wife and two sons, all enjoy cycling.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Chandigarh, July 25
The Municipal Corporation, today, initiated a significant step to make the city bicycle-friendly. Ms Anu Chatrath, Mayor, signed the Velo Mondial (London, Amsterdam) charter and action plan for bicycle-friendly communities, on behalf of the city today. Mr Christopher Huggins countersigned the charter on behalf of Velo Mondial. Describing the charter, the Mayor said it provides a blueprint and a set of directives for promoting the bicycle as an efficient, environmentally friendly alternative to motorised transport. Ms Chatrath said the city; with a population exceeding one million had, as in big cities everywhere, environmental challenges and transport problems. “A large number of city residents own bicycles and continue to use this highly economical mode of transport. However, existing facilities for bicycle riders in the city are not sufficient.
An increasing number of cities worldwide now look upon the bicycle as a solution to improving the environment, reducing congestion, enhancing public health and more,” she maintained. The Mayor said with the signing of this charter, the corporation had made public its will to bring respect and dignity back to the cyclist. The bicycle as the poor man’s transport was in fact the healthiest mode of transport. Its usage had reduced in recent years, in many cases because of the safety issues and the rise of air pollution, both caused by motorised vehicles. Through starting a dialogue with Velo Mondial, the city has taken a step further towards promoting the bicycle as an effective mode of transport for its citizens. In the following weeks, an analysis will be made on the current state of bicycle friendliness in the city. Factors such as bicycle safety, cycle paths, funding and partnerships will be explored. Representatives of the city will be invited to the next Velo Mondial conference in Cape Town, South Africa, (March 5 to 10, 2006) in order to represent the city and voice their views, the Mayor added.
The signing represents one more major achievement in the “360 ways venture” which began in Paris in June 2004. Having crossed seven European countries, Christopher Huggins and Peter Kennedy reached India on June 2 and Christopher reached the city on July 9. The “360 ways venture” aims at promoting the bicycle a mode for urban transport and solution for sustainable urbanisation. The project was chalked out by Christopher Huggins and Peter Kennedy, with the support from the sponsors, to give a new life to the bicycle globally. “This is a starting point for cities that realise the benefits of the bicycle for all. Among these benefits are reduced air pollution and noise pollution, less accidents and less traffic congestion. The health and well being of citizens of bicycle-friendly cities gets improved not only by the route physical activity itself, but also through lower air pollution and less road accidents”, Huggins maintains.
"Pokhara is the second largest city in Nepal, after Kathmandu. As for Kathmandu, Pokhara’s resources lie largely in the development of the tourist sector. Over the years the city’s infrastructure has been developed to suit this objective. This is especially the case along the lakeside where tourists are to be welcomed to Pokhara, the city of peace, environment friendliness and leisure.
The environment is the main reason why, on the 2nd August, the honorable Dikawar Bastola, Mayor of Pokhara, officially signed the Velo Mondial Charter for bicycle friendly communities.
The second reason for Pokhara’s decision is to reconcile the rich-poor gap which is very much apparent in the city, as in the rest of the country. The bicycle will preserve the environment, displaying idealic scenery for tourists and locals alike. Furthermore, the bicycle will enhance equal opportunities to the rich as to the poor when it comes to transport throughout the city: notably for home to work displacements.
Pokhara’s declaration marks the city’s will to commit itself to the development of the city whilst respecting the people’s rights to equal opportunities and to their inherited environment. Pokhara’s commitment is one the city would like to share today with the other bicycle friendly communities of the world, to form a basis for future transport policy making."
Bicycle friend Singaopre to attract more tourist? may be something for STB to ponder upon :-)
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
- improved cycling infrastructure
- "traffic calming" in residential neighborhoods
- urban design that is people- rather than car-oriented
- restrictions on motor vehicle use
- traffic education
- traffic regulations and enforcement that are pro-pedestrian and pro-cycling
Friday, July 29, 2005
"Was she wearing a helmet? No."
"Did she get knocked out? No, she was just a little confused at first."
I ordered the head CT, but before we could even call the tech, she siezed.
I intubated her after doing a repeated neurologic exam after the siezure ended. At that moment, I had x-ray vision. She had absolutely not a single scratch on the outside of her body and yet I could see through her skull and watch the middle meningeal artery continue to bleed, putting pressure on her brain. ‘Something is terribly wrong,’ she had said to us at one point just prior to siezing."
"Please wear your helmet!" By Doc Shazam. The Lingual Nerve, 28 Jul 2005.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
'Top Australian cyclist Amy Gillett was killed and five other national team members were hurt when they were hit by a car while training in Germany. Louise Yaxley and Alexis Rhodes are in intensive care with multiple injuries while Katie Brown, Lorian Graham and Kate Nichols are in a stable condition. German police said the car's driver, an 18-year-old learner, lost control of her vehicle.'
Friday, July 01, 2005
The pro-helmet, anti-compulsion BikeBiz.com makes a commentary prior to listing an index of stories carried to date on UK's MP Eric Martlew's private members' bill 'protective headgear for young cyclists' as well as post-bill helmet compulsion articles.
Cycle helmet compulsion needs to be fought tooth and nail by anybody who cares about the health of children in this country.
Every child death is sad but it's ludicrous to force children off bicycles because a handful of children (some of whom may have been wearing ill-fitting helmets) die from cycle-related injuries.
The minimal risks of cycling are outweighed 20:1 by the health benefits.
Far from being the rantings of "cycling fascists", as helmet compulsion MP Eric Martlew claims, the anti-compulsion argument is a strong one.
There are pros and cons for helmet wearing. Pro-compulsionists don't seem to register this.
Some keen cyclists wear helmets, others don't. Fairweather cyclists usually don't wear helmets and that's fine. Force people to wear helmets for cycling and non-enthusiast cyclists will simply stop cycling.
More lives would be saved per year if car passengers were forced to wear helmets but cycle helmet compulsionsts won't even countenance such a suggestion. Why a lid law for cycling but not driving?
And why not for young and old pedestrians? They suffer many more head injuries than cyclists.
And why aren't soccer moms clamouring for head protection for their footballing kids? The Football Association said there have been nine deaths "in recent years" from soccer-related head injuries.
Compulsion would be bad for cycling, bad for whole population health.
Buy helmets, wear helmets, promote helmets. But don't force people to wear them.
"Pleasant encounter with LTA." By gingerbread. Togoparts Forum, 29 Jun 2005.
"We were cycling along Jalan Bahar towards the direction of NTU when my friend's front wheel went over a dent on the road and had a terrible fall. He was in severed pain and suffered a broken collar bone. He'll be out of action for a few weeks. My another fellow cyclist wrote to LTA shortly after the incident and surprisingly, when we passed the same route the following week, the depression was levelled up! Their reply came thereafter...
"Thank you for your feedback, we can empathise with you on your friend's accident and we sincerely wish your friend a speedy recovery.
We have visited the site and did not observe any pothole at LP 118. Instead, we noticed a very slight depressed area near LP 120 and a Fire Hydrant, which we have already levelled up.
We appreciate your feedback and we hope you will continue to use this facility to let us know how we can help to serve you better.
Once again, we thank you for your feedback.
Yours sincerely, "
I am really impressed by LTA and their efficiency. Hope you can all make use of their feedback facility and make our roads safer to ride."
the LTA feedback link:
Saturday, April 23, 2005
The recommendations were forwarded to relevant Ministries and agencies and they have given their replies.
Physical Development Feedback Group
The Physical Development Feedback Group is concerned with transport, housing and environment issues. Out of the 17 recommendations proposed, most achieved concurrence with the government agencies.The Ministry of Transport (MOT), Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Ministry of National Development (MND) share similar views with the FBG in encouraging active modes of transport such as walking and cycling. Not only are these modes of transport more accessible for short distance commuting; they also complement public health efforts in increasing the level of physical activity.It was announced in Parliament during the Committee of Supplies debate in March that the Traffic Police will be looking into allowing cyclists to ride on pavements. The Government is also working closely with the town councils and local community groups to build cycling tracks in housing estates such as Pasir Ris and Tampines.
Following extrated from "Reply to Physical Development feedback group" http://app.feedback.gov.sg/data/adm08/c1/p821/Phy%20Dev%20FBG.doc
Feedback group suggestion:
Make the environment conducive for active modes of transport (paras 29-30)
29. Short trips in between trips are difficult to serve with public transport because access and waiting time make up a large percentage of trip time. Active modes of transport can bring physical activity into daily routines. This can complement the increasing efforts by public health advocates to increase activity levels in society. Sedentary lifestyles are a key cause of a growing public health crisis as the population ages and become more affluent. However the urban fabric is rather hostile and dangerous for most ‘active transportation’ which includes especially walking, running, wheelchair use, and bicycling but in-line skates, new kinds of foot scooters etc. Therefore special provisions must be made. Having people on these ‘streets’ is good for the humanity of the city and promotes a sense of place.
30. Provide a safe environment for pedestrians and other active mode of transportation running concurrently on the same space. Encourage the use of active transport modes like walking, cycling, in line skates, skateboarding foot or motorized scooters for short trips of less than 4 km. This encourages healthy physical activity, time efficiency to using public transport, reduced vehicular congestion, and promotes sense of place and community.
MOT / LTA (with inputs from MND) reply:
Generally, there are avenues for people to travel by active modes of transport such as walking and cycling. Cyclists for example, are currently able to travel on the roads, and the Traffic Police is reviewing whether they could be allowed on the pavement. The government is also working actively with the Town Councils and local community groups to build cycling tracks in places such as Tampines. Pedestrian paths are provided within road reserves and are also planned and encouraged within housing estates. To create a more conducive environment for walking, covered linkways are currently provided, where possible, to link main transport nodes like MRT stations and bus stops, to housing estates, schools, etc. Pedestrian friendly features like footpath ramps and railings are also provided where possible. The various agencies would continue to work together with the local community to plan and build infrastructure or facilities for active modes of transport where possible.
Monday, April 18, 2005
The paper can be read or downloaded as a pdf here.
Citation: Zhang Guanyang, 2005. Let's cycle in Singapore! Unpublished term paper submitted on 12 April 2005 for UPC2305: Transportation planning in Singapore.” Course conducted by CHIN Hoong Chor, Department of Civil Engineering, National University of Singapore.
I have found a rear-view mirror critical for cycling in busy roads. It offers me the ability to constantly monitor my environment and strategise my approach at critical areas such as congested, narrow roads, bus bays, traffic junctions, slip roads leading to my lane etc.
Often, on narrow roads, the cyclist behind me might yell out a warning, "truck approaching," usually after they were alerted by the sound of the truck and a quick look back to check. I am always struck by how much earlier my rear-view mirror had detected the truck, well before we could hear it.
It also helps me decide when to start filtering when I need to switch lanes. I use the mirror to look for a gap (an earlier traffic light may create a gap in traffic), and when one approaches, I swivel my head for an exact fix before making my move. This minimises traffic disruption and I find myself switching lanes in relative safety.
The area immediately before and after a bus stop is a hazardous zone to the left-lane bound cyclist. This hazard is amplified by heavy traffic and is potentially hazardous on narrow, busy roads which leave bus drivers with little leeway.
The critical zone is the corner of bus bays just before a bus swings in. This critical zone increases significantly with the bus' speed - although in actual fact, bus captains are supposed to slow down.
I try to eliminate interaction in this area well in advance with the help of my rear-view mirror. Depending on distance, speed and other traffic, I may slow down and get behind a bus well before we reach the bus-stop, or accelerate ahead, and take the middle of the left-most lane in front of the bus, before it turns into the bus bay.
By planning ahead, reducing the number of critical situations and expecting the environment to change at any time. I am able to react much faster to any given situation, enjoy a safer ride, and reduce or even eliminate disruption to traffic.
My observations of local cyclists at mass events or on the road suggests few seem to use a rear-view mirror, although these are easily available in bike shops. I do feel rear-view mirrors should be one of the minimum requirements a cyclists should bear, along with a helmet, rear and front lights, if we want to share the road.
I first began noticing this behaviour in 1997 when friends of mine and I used to ride from Serangoon Gardens to Changi. Along certain stretches of road like Hougang Ave 3, buses would leap-frog us as they overtook us but later had to pull in at bus stops and eventually overtake us again. In a highly populated area, the bus-stops occur in higher frequency and the amount of leap-frogging increases.
Yet, every time, bus drivers would pull out to the second lane when overtaking us - a safe and considerate gesture that we often acknowledged with cheery waves.
This was made possible by the fact that the three-lane roads were relatively empty on Sunday mornings. Bus drivers (or bus captains as they are called now, as they operate alone) are unable to be as generous on congested roads on weekdays.
I took this photo at a narrow juncture of Lim Chu Kang Road last Saturday morning (16th April 2005). The road here is a single lane (just before Lim Chu Kang Lane 3) and on seeing the bunch of cyclists toiling up the slope, the bus captain pulled out to the opposite side of the road, in the absence of oncoming traffic, giving them considerable leeway.
That Saturday and the last, we rode more than 200km from town to the east and west of Singapore, spending several hours on the road. In relation to our cycling group, I observed more than 30 other acts of caution or consideration at give way signs, before and after bus bays, at traffic junctions and between lanes. With a rear-view mirror, I observed drivers slowing down behind us to a crawling speed when approaching us a bus-stop we were cycling past, while others maintained a distance in busy roads or switched lanes to overtake.
I gave up counting he number of favourable acts; and there were commendable driving practises demonstrated by other road users in relation to cyclists as well.
Cyclists tend to remember only the offensive (and I suspect, rare) incidents, when a rogue driver (they do exist) tries or manages to squeeze us off the road. And we amplify accounts told to us by friends.
My experience from the past years suggest that rogue bus drivers are a siginificant minority. Sure, we need to keep a lookout for these and ensure they are rehabilitated. But we have to attempt to acknowledge good driving practises just as enthusiastically.
And cyclists will have to scrutinise their cycling methods on the roads just as closely. Are we innocent of all guilt?
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Starting from the middle of the clip a cyclist cuts through a few junctions without stopping, all cars naturally behave as they approach the round about".
Click the image to view:
More info at this page: "How to build a better intersection." From "Roads gone Wild." By Tom Nichol, Wired News, Dec 2004.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
In conjunction with the Green Transport Day (formerly Car Free Day), the Living Room invited Lim Soon Chung from the Singapore Environment Council to talk about Green Transport Day and Chu Wa, to talk about cycling to work.
The mp3 files are available here - Green Transport Day and Cycling to Work.
Saturday, March 12, 2005
Center For The Advancement Of Health, 28 February 2005. Reported by Science Daily, 8th March 2005.
Original news release.
The degree to which city people walk or ride bicycles for their daily transportation needs depends largely on how much green space there is, says a new study that examines the role of urban design in physical fitness.
"Because engaging in moderate physical activity such as walking or bicycling can improve health outcomes, understanding strategies that increase these behaviors has become a public health priority," says Amy Zlot, an epidemiologist with the Oregon Department of Human Services, writing in the current American Journal of Health Promotion.
Using government databases with results from surveys of more than half a million respondents, the researchers compared levels of fitness with parkland acreage in 34 metropolitan areas.
They found that San Francisco had the highest percentage of people who walked or bicycled for recreation and the highest percentage of parkland. New York City had the highest percentage that walked or bicycled for basic transportation, such as commuting to work or running errands, and the third highest amount of parkland.
Atlanta had the lowest percentage for recreational walking or bicycling and the second lowest percentage of parkland, and Memphis had the lowest proportion of people who walked or rode for transportation purposes and the sixth lowest percentage of open space. San Jose had the lowest percentage of parkland.
The parkland acreage was measured as a percentage of total city size, and the figures for walking or bicycling were derived from those who listed those as their two most frequent forms of physical activity.
"In this set of observations, walking and bicycling for transportation was positively associated with parkland acreage," say Zlot and co-author Tom Schmid, who did the research while employed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The data did not show a significant relationship between the level of walking or cycling for pleasure and the percentage of urban parks.
The significance of the study, say the authors, is that "the number of route choices a community provides – and mix – the relative percentage of housing, retail, work and recreational opportunities in a community – appear to be important, independent predictors of walking and bicycling."
Zlot and Schmid suggest that studies like theirs might help in the planning of "livable communities" by multidisciplinary teams of urban planners, architects, transportation experts, developers, policy makers, park administrators and environmentalists.
A study of Atlanta area residents published in early February found that city dwellers were more physically active than suburbanites because they walk more often for shopping, dining or doing errands.
Government data suggest that only 45 percent of Americans meet recommendations for physical activity and of the remaining 55 percent, about half are sedentary.
The top 10 cities for recreational walking and bicycling: San Francisco, Milwaukee, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, Los Angeles/Tampa (tied) and Denver.
The bottom 10 cities for recreational walking and bicycling: Atlanta, Cincinnati, New York, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix-Mesa, Cleveland, Miami, Las Vegas and Virginia Beach.
The top 10 cities for "utilitarian" walking and bicycling: New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Portland, Cincinnati and Oakland.
The bottom 10 cities for "utilitarian" walking and bicycling: Memphis, Columbus, Cleveland, Virginia Beach, Milwaukee, St. Louis/Atlanta (tied), San Jose, San Diego and Sacramento.
The top 10 cities for parkland as a percentage of city acreage: San Francisco, Washington, New York, San Diego, Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Portland, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Phoenix-Mesa.
The bottom 10 cities for parkland as a percentage of city acreage: San Jose, Atlanta, New Orleans, Tampa, Miami, Houston, Cleveland, Memphis/Sacramento (tie) and Columbus.
This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Center For The Advancement Of Health.
Friday, March 11, 2005
"Building a safer roadway." By Melody Hanatani/ CNC Staff WriterFriday, 25 February, 2005. Watertown Tab & Press, on Townonline.com
How can a road be safer for pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists? That was the issue addressed recently at a traffic-calming talk, where residents of Watertown, Belmont and surrounding towns came to hear how they can make their communities safer.
Cara Seiderman, transportation manager for the city of Cambridge, spoke to a crowd of residents from local communities about traffic calming - how to redesign roadways to slow down traffic and increase pedestrian safety.
Using a PowerPoint presentation consisting mainly of photos of streets and intersections from across the country, Seiderman illustrated how visual and physical enhancements to existing streets can reduce the speed of vehicles, which can then increase the flow of pedestrians by making it safer to cross the street.
"People speed because the road environment tells them to," Seiderman said. Visual enhancements, such as trees, do not decrease the actual width of the road but create the appearance of a narrower road. According to Seiderman, the safest streets are found to be only 24 to 30 feet wide.
Chicanes are also commonly used in traffic calming. They slow vehicles by creating deviations and breaking up roads that were originally designed to go straight. Chicanes can include alternating parking from one side to the other, or placing a small island on the street.
Another way of redesigning streets is to raise the intersection, which works like a speed bump. "We tend to raise intersections where there are a lot of pedestrians such as parks and schools," Seiderman said.
A popular way of reducing speed is a roundabout, which works similar to a rotary but is designed better and safer. "A rotary is a badly and wrongly designed roundabout," she said. "A roundabout controls traffic and a rotary does not."
Roundabouts, which are used at intersections with high accident rates, allow only one vehicle at a time and reduce the number of places where conflict may occur between two vehicles or between a vehicle and a pedestrian.
"The roundabout has to be designed to be tight so it can slow the car down," Seiderman said.
Tightening intersections is a common way of reducing speed and conflict between vehicles and pedestrians, she said. A tighter intersection means drivers will slow down when making a turn, which gives them a better chance of seeing a pedestrian about to cross.
Seiderman also cited economic and health benefits that come along with traffic calming. There is a correlation between the lack of pedestrian access and inactivity, which can lead to obesity, Seiderman said. Showing a graph illustrating the trend in obesity and lack of walking, Seiderman said the group affected most is children.
When the audience of mainly adults was asked whether they walked to school during their childhood, a majority raised their hands. When asked whether their children walk to school, the number of hands was reduced to about two or three.
"People will walk, and some don't have a choice because they don't have a car," Seiderman said. "Studies show that more and more Americans are favoring sidewalks."
Better-designed streets also affect economic health positively by increasing the number of pedestrians along business districts.
To illustrate the business benefits of well-designed streets, Seiderman showed a photo of a woman riding a bike who stopped to smell flowers displayed on a storefront in Denmark. Seiderman said the woman went into the store to buy the flowers after smelling them. But what was interesting, she said, is that the woman already had bought some flowers at another store. "This could only happen if you're walking or cycling," she said.
Seiderman is a well-known expert on traffic calming and serves on the Massachusetts Governor's Highway Design Manual Task Force along with other traffic-related committees. A graduate of Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley, Seiderman received her degrees in urban planning.
The talk was co-sponsored by the East End Neighbors, the Watertown Bicycle Committee, Watertown Citizens for Environmental Safety, Belmont Citizens Forum, and various transportation committees from Lexington, Waltham, Arlington and Belmont.
"It's poor design that creates traffic," Seiderman said. "Pedestrians always have the right of way and many designs don't give that message. If you design something right, people will use it right."
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
1/5 - Save pavements for vulnerable pedestrians
THE first line in the Parliament report, 'Cyclists may get to ride on pavements' (ST, March 4), says it all: 'Pedestrians, watch out'.
Why watch out? Because it is not safe to have both cyclists and pedestrians on the same pavement.
Vehicles belong on the road and pedestrians on the pavement, and the bicycle is a vehicle. There is a buffer between the wheel, the handle bar and the cyclist but there is no buffer for the pedestrian in a collision between the two.
If cyclists are to be allowed on the pavement, the bicycle lane should be demarcated clearly and a kerb should separate the bicycle lane from the pedestrian path.
It is much easier to mark out a bicycle lane on the road than to create space on the pavement for bicycles.
Alternatively, bicycles can share the bus lanes, which could be made off limits to other vehicles.
Cyclists should have their space but not on the pavement.
Anthony Leong Chee Hong
2/5 - Don't neglect the safety of pedestrians
I APPLAUD Member of Parliament Irene Ng's lobbying for cyclists' safety ('Cyclists may get to ride on pavements'; ST, March 4). Indeed, accidents involving cy- clists have been on the increase.
However, I wonder if anyone is lobbying for pedestrians' safety. Having lived in 'Bicycle Town' Pasir Ris for the last 14 years, I have had my share of accidents with cyclists while walking on pavements.
On Friday morning, a cyclist brushed past me at high speed. The bicycle handle hit me hard and left me bruised. The rather well-dressed cyclist did not even stop to check on me.
On another occasion, a cyclist, also travelling at high speed on the pavement, hit a student from the back, causing superficial injuries. But what was most shocking was the cyclist's response. First, he shouted 'sh*t', then accused the student of 'not walking straight'.
These are but two very recent examples of the perils of walking along pavements in Pasir Ris. And the danger is not confined to pavements; cyclist-pedestrian accidents can also be witnessed frequently at our beach parks.
What irks me is that even when it is illegal to ride on pavements, cyclists are already bullying pedestrians. Should the legislation be changed, I fear taking a walk in Singapore, which has yet to become a gracious society.
Please understand that I am for cyclists' safety and am willing to share the pavement. However, don't neglect the safety of pedestrians too, lest my town becomes Pasir Ris-ky.
John Toh Boon Jauw
3/5 - Take a leaf out of Australia's book
I REFER to the article, 'Cyclists may get to ride on pavement' (ST, March 4). The average width of a pavement is about 1.2m. With cyclists riding on the pavement, there is little space left for pedestrians.
In Australia, cyclists - clad in safety helmets and reflective vests - share the road with motorists, who give way to them.
Alan Yap Ken Kuo
4/5 - Will 'pavement code' be obeyed?
PRESENTLY many cyclists do not obey the simple rule about staying off the pavement. Is there any reason to believe that they will somehow comply with a new 'Use of Pavement Code' to be drawn up?
Many cyclists are foreign workers or elderly retired persons. Unless it is made compulsory for them to take up insurance, I foresee that those injured by 'pavement cyclists' would be left without compensation when they are not at fault.
Finally, cyclists are not the only road users bullied by drivers of larger vehicles; motorcyclists and drivers of smaller cars are also at their mercy.
Lee Siew Boo
5/5 - Jog-Cum-Cycle path for Ponggol Road
I WOULD like the authorities to consider building a jogging-cum-cycling path along Ponggol Road.
I have often seen joggers, walkers and cyclists using the main road early in the morning and in the evening, sharing the road with huge trucks, buses, lorries and cars, which frequently shave past each other, posing a very dangerous situation.
Chan Wai Chong
Saturday, March 05, 2005
The Singapore cyclist and the constant clash of wheel power
CYCLISTS in Singapore — who may feel like a forgotten lot — should take heart: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong mentioned the word "bicycle" twice in his Budget Debate roundup speech last week. Likening the Budget for the coming year to a "bicycle built for two", he urged Singaporeans to pedal in tandem with the Government's efforts to help them.
Analogies aside, however, just how much in tune is the Government with the needs of Singapore's cyclists — who ride for leisure, to work or to stay fit? Judging by the general outcry from cyclists — as well as their pedestrian "victims" — there is still a long way to go to make cycling safer here.
A recent commentary in Today titled "Vote for pedal power" hit a raw nerve among members of the cycling fraternity and sparked a flurry of responses, with appeals for ministries and agencies to address their plight. Ms Irene Ng, MP and patron of the Singapore Amateur Cycling Association, summed up the situation to the House as follows: "Because (safe cycling) is an issue that cuts across several different ministries and requires coordinated action, it seems to fall between the cracks with no real progress made."
Indeed, far from freewheeling, cyclists here face the hard-hitting reality of risking their lives on the road or paying fines of $1,000 and spending up to three months in jail for cycling on footpaths.
WHEELS OF MISFORTUNE
The number of cyclists involved in traffic accidents is on the rise, increasing from 341 in 1998 to 363 in 2002. The figure was 292 for January to September last year. . Offering pedallers a sliver of hope, the Ministry of Home Affairs responded to Ms Ng by offering the possibility of relaxing the pavement ban on cyclists. But evidently, much more must be done for the cycling community.
Calling for a multi-agency task force to make concerted efforts to protect cyclists and for a safe cycling campaign, Ms Ng said: "No matter how much enforcement or education is done, it is hard to make our roads safer for cyclists if our urban planners or transport policy-makers do not factor cyclists into their plans."
When it comes to public cycling facilities, it seems Singapore should go Dutch. Mr Lim Kong Hiong, who lived and worked in the Netherlands for 18 months, said: "In Holland, the importance of cycling can be seen in the presence of many facilities for cyclists. The attitude of other road users is also cordial compared to the attitude here."
So developed and entrenched is the Dutch cycling culture that the country has dedicated cycling lanes — complete with traffic lights for cyclists on major roads — bicycle stands throughout the city and even multi-storey bicycle parks with guards to ensure that expensive bicycles are not stolen, said Mr Lim.
In contrast, cyclists in Singapore have to endure rude stares even when cycling on proper cycling tracks in parks. "On several occasions, maids or pedestrians with baby prams or dogs have given me unfriendly stares and been unwilling to let me cycle through, even on a pathway made for cyclists and joggers," said Mr Eddie Goh. Unsurprisingly, cyclists here are casualties of the relentless national pursuit of "efficiency".
On the possibility of dedicated cycling lanes, the Land Transport Authority maintains that the need to optimise the limited land here rules it out. Only buses — as a "more efficient form of transporting people" — have been given dedicated lanes during peak hours. Said Mr Ong Kian Min, chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Transport: "Dedicated cycling lanes are not feasible for a country such as Singapore. Rather, we should focus on promoting a safety consciousness among road users." Nevertheless, civil engineer-cum-cyclist Penelope Bennett said: "On-road facilities are the way to change motorists' 'I own the road' mindset and to really provide for bicycle commuters."
Meanwhile, don't even think of taking your bicycle on the MRT — the epitome of efficiency in people transport — as part of a "cycle-MRT-cycle" strategy. Unlike some rail operators in Thailand, the United States, Germany and France, both local train operators bar bicycles — unless they are folded — from the MRT. Why? Because they feel that bicycles could cause injuries or damage and would pose an obstruction to other passengers.
WHEELS VS HEELS
Nevertheless, respect for cycling as a form of transport is, as they say, a two-way street. Reckless pedallers have earned cyclists a bad reputation among motorists and pedestrians. Following the death of avid cyclist Sylvester Ang last December, a group of pedallers banded together to form the Safe Cycling Task Force. The group has met with the relevant government authorities to convey their concerns.
Mr Melvin Yuan, spokesman for the movement, said: "Our next step will be to create awareness and educate the public on the need to foster a partnership with other road users."
To share your views, email email@example.com.
So you want to be a biker? Here are some safety terms and conditions:
• Ride your bikes on the left side of the road
• Wear a cycling helmet
• Ensure your bicycle is roadworthy and equipped with a light
• Signals when intending to stop, slow down and turn to the left or right
• Travelling to the right of another vehicle is against the law
Buy a biCycle . Check out the following websites to get a roadworthy bike:
Getting on track
Park Connector Networks: The Urban Redevelopment Authority is planning a 170km green network to be completed by 2010, connecting park to park, coast to coast, parks to town centres … you get the picture.
To date, 58km of pathways, mainly along rivers and canals, have been built. . Designated Bike Parks: Bishan Park, East Coast Park, Pasir Ris Park, West Coast Park, Bedok Reservoir Park
Band of Bikers
Some cycling groups to consider joining:
• Singapore Amateur Cycling Association (www.cycling.org.sg)
• Singapore BMX (www.osbmx.com)
• Teamabsolut (www.teamabsolut.net)
Friday, March 04, 2005
PEDESTRIANS, watch out. Cyclists could soon be sharing pavements with you. The Traffic Police are looking into allowing them on sidewalks.
Right now, they are banned from these spaces. But many disregard the law, pedestrians have claimed in letters to The Straits Times Forum pages. If caught, such cyclists can be fined up to $1,000 or jailed for up to three months.
But insisting that they share the roads with vehicles also poses great risks to them, said MP Irene Ng (Tampines GRC), who has championed the cause of cyclists in Parliament for the past three years.
During the debate on the budget of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) yesterday, she got into gear again - and made some headway. Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs Ho Peng Kee told the House about the possibility of relaxing the pavement ban on cyclists.
Miss Ng, who is the patron of the Singapore Amateur Cycling Association, said: 'This is a positive sign from the MHA that cyclists have a share of the common space and are legitimate road users.' MP Charles Chong (Pasir Ris-Punggol) and NMP Geh Min too spoke on the safety of cyclists yesterday.
The number of cyclists involved in traffic accidents has been rising - from 341 in 1998 to 363 in 2002. The latest figure, between January and September last year, was 292. Ms Ng told The Straits Times that even if the law is relaxed, pedestrians' safety should not be compromised. She is for clearly demarcated cyclist lanes and good sign-posting. Also, some pavements may have to be widened.
A Traffic Police spokesman said that if cyclists are allowed to ride on the pavement, 'relevant laws and enforcement procedures would have to be put in place to ensure everyone's safety'.
Ms Ng revealed to The Straits Times that she is in talks with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to widen roads in Tampines to accommodate cyclists. 'We'd like to pilot this in Tampines, and if it works out well, we hope it would convince LTA to implement it nationwide.'
Friday, February 25, 2005
... Singapore has done many good for the people and has been an inspiration model for many countries in many respects (e.g. CPF, COE, Garden City, Security, education, ERP, corruption free, and more...). This was the main reason we decided to move to Singapore eight years ago and is an important factor that is keeping us staying here. Therefore when I try to think of possible improvement I discovered that it is not easy not to risk the chances of upsetting some of the good systems already in place. Due to the nature of my job, I am used to identify big opportunities with relative small effort. Innovation, in commercial sense, is to achieve high sustainable gains with relatively low cost. It is with this frame of mind I am making the following suggestion with passion:
Reduce car, increase bicycle use for daily communiting
I am suggesting this based on following considerations:
- Physical inactivity is a major threat to people live in urban area and is recently confirmed (WHO, US-CDC) as danger as smoking. However, unlike smoking, this threat is not really known in public and it seems even harder to quit 'physical inactivity' then to quit smoking.
- Daily minimum 30 minutes exercise is the best way to combat the many symptoms of physical inactivity including: obesity, diabetics, heart diseases, colon cancers, hyper tensions and many more.
- Many advance countries is enhancing (i.e. Holland, Denmark) or adopting a pro-cycling policy (i.e. U.K., New York) in order to make it easy for people to choose this healthy form of commuting.
- Medical, insurance cost
- This is currently a hot topic for public debate and is a major concern for the aging population. If the cycling population increase, it is easy to anticipate that the public health will improve and the direct effect is lower burden in medical and insurance cost.
- More bicycles and less private cars help to reduce air pollution and traffic noise significantly.
- Each private car produce a lot of heat when driving on the road, less car also contribute to less ambient temperature
- Bicycle path is less demanding for road space and heavy duty flyovers. Therefore more cultural buildings can be maintained providing good connection to the pass.
- Less dependent on gas energy
- Cyclists can relates to each other much better then drivers in cars
- Cycling to school and cycling to work can bring people together
- A bicycle friendly Singapore helps to attract environment conscious, high quality talents from abroad
- Cycling is the most energy efficient form of moving people over short distance; it is therefore an ideal compliment to public mass transportation which is the most efficient form of moving people over longer distance.
- Current priority of LTA is first public mass transit, then buses, then Taxi, then private car. Bicycle as a mode of transportation should take the third place after buses because of its efficiency and many other benefits list here.
- Contribution to other countries and opportunity
- If Singapore succeeded in introducing and benefiting from a pro-cycling policy, it will definitely be look upon as yet another inspiration by many countries. I speak for my experience during my time in Holland, and Asian developed country as Singapore can serve as a real inspiration for many similar cities in Asia, including China and India.
- Commercial and economic
- The experience gained and the local (bicycle related) service industry developed can be expended to other countries.
- COE- current innovative way of handling car ownership in Singapore generates a very profitable operation due to COE system. It works partially due to the human desire of exclusive items. However, there is no reason why it can not be the same for 'luxurious' bicycles.
- However profitable the COE operation is, it can not be denial that when importing a car, it is a net expense from Singapore earning. For same amount of money of importing a simple car (~30K), we can import enough bicycles for 10 families.
- More valuable space: unlike shops along a motorway, shops along a bicycle path can benefit from the increased traffic easily without require dedicated parking space near by.
- Tourist- a bicycle friendly Singapore can be a tourist paradise. Imagine how attractive it can be for the visitors if they can roam freely around the island to visit different attractions? It will be a real unique experience for any visitor.
- Promoting cycling is much more then just importing bicycles. We can conduct cycling tour for tourist, bicycle training for children, cycle-together-to-work scheme… there are many innovation and service opportunities. It can be an important local industry that provides jobs for many people.
- It is known that the physical health of cyclist worker are 10 years younger than their physical-inactive counter parts, they are more alert at work and is more productive.
It is rare that a simple idea can have so many positive impact and so little negative consequences. However, it does take an open mind and personal experience to appreciate the full impact of the idea.
Friday, February 18, 2005
Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs, Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee, 16th October 2003. 10th Parliamentary Debates Singapore. Official Report, Volume 76 No. 22 - pdf.
See: Integrating cycle paths into traffic system" and
"Accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians".
13. Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong asked the Minister for Home Affairs, in view of the rising number of cyclists involved in traffic accidents and of Singaporeans taking up cycling, whether his Ministry will embark on an extensive traffic education programme for recreational and commuter cyclists to teach them street skills and traffic regulations.
14. Mr Ahmad Mohd Magad asked the Minister for Home Affairs whether measures are in place or being considered (i) to curb the recent increase in traffic accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists, particularly within residential areas; (ii) to reduce the rash and intolerant driving behaviour of the driving population manifested in aggressive driving, failure to give way and sounding the horn unnecessarily; (iii) to demarcate bicycle and vehicular traffic lanes within residential areas to enable the sharing of the roads in an organised manner; and (iv) to implement lower speed limits within school zones and specified busy school hours.
15. Ms Braema Mathiaparanam asked the Minister for Home Affairs (a) how many fatal accidents occurred at pedestrian crossings, in the last two years; and (b) what are his Ministry's plans to ensure that motorists slow down as they approach such crossings.
The Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs (Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee) (for the Minister for Home Affairs): Sir, may I take Question Nos. 13, 14 and 15 together?
Mr Speaker: Yes.
Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Sir, the number of accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians has remained stable over the last two years, averaging about 360 and 890 respectively per year. For the period January to August this year, compared to the same period last year, there were 241 accidents involving cyclists compared to 222 last year. There was an increase, but not as large an increase as Ms Irene Ng indicated.
Accidents involving cyclists crept up from 222 last year to 241 this year, January to August. For accidents involving pedestrians, there were 533 this year, compared to 641 accidents last year. So that has come down.
16 and 17 pedestrians were killed at pedestrian crossings in the years 2001 and 2002 respectively.
Sir, indeed, we all agree that cyclists and pedestrians are two vulnerable groups of road users. In line with Ms Irene Ng’s suggestion, Traffic Police has been educating them on safe cycling habits, tips for safer use of roads, and on traffic regulations. Traffic Police regularly conducts talks and exhibitions on the basic do’s and don’ts of cycling for recreational and commuter cyclists of all ages.
These talks and exhibitions cover safe cycling tips, such as wearing a protective gear, taking extra care when approaching road junctions and using proper hand signals. Tips are also provided to pedestrians on how to be seen and how to be safe. Particular effort is made to reach out to senior citizens who are usually less agile and responsive to dangers on the road and to children who are less conspicuous when crossing the roads due to their small build.
A total of 66 road safety talks and exhibitions, including segments on safe cycling, were conducted from January to August this year. These were conducted at primary and secondary schools, community and shopping centres and at army camps, reaching out to more than 37,000 people.
Another key outreach is the Shell Traffic Games that has, since its introduction in 1981, been held annually and which has reached out to about one million school children. And indeed this year, it was expanded to cover more children and also held indoors, in conjunction with Children's Day.
On road safety in general, besides the annual road safety campaigns which are educational in nature, Traffic Police also takes tough and intensive enforcement actions to deter traffic violators. Besides regular patrols and special operations, Traffic Police also leverages on technology such as the use of static and portable cameras to keep our roads safe for road users.
Traffic Police issued over 200,000 traffic summonses between January to August this year, an increase of about 13% compared to the same period last year. Mr Ahmad Magad suggested lowering speed limits on roads within school zones and during specified hours. A similar concern was raised by Ms Braema Mathiaparanam, who asked about the plans to ensure that motorists slow down as they approach pedestrian crossings.
Sir, there are already traffic signs in place to warn motorists to slow down and drive carefully when entering a school zone. Road humps have also been erected to slow vehicles down as they approach school zones as well as pedestrian crossings. Signages and road markings are also used in some major roads where it is not practical to have road humps. In addition, when these measures cannot be implemented to facilitate pedestrian crossing, pedestrian overhead bridges are erected.
Traffic Police will continue working with the Land Transport Authority to explore various measures, including lowering speed limits where appropriate, to enhance road safety around schools.
Sir, however, I am sure all in this House would agree that keeping our roads safe is not the work of Traffic Police alone. Traffic Police officers cannot be everywhere, every time, to keep an eye on road-users. A change in road users’ behaviour and mindset to create a safe road environment for all can only come about through the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders, especially motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. Therefore, Traffic Police will continue to galvanise, through its various campaigns, more ground efforts.
For example, following the recent accidents involving school children at Pasir Ris, I understand that Mr Ahmad Magad led a group comprising representatives from the Land Transport Authority, the Housing and Development Board, the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council and the Pasir Ris Neighbourhood Police Centre, to visit the accident site and its surrounding areas to explore ways to improve road safety there. I am sure other grassroots advisors do chip in too.
Another example is the Safe Drive Zones, a community-based road safety programme developed under the Community Safety and Security Programme (CSSP). This project aims to improve the safety of road users around schools, town centres and neighbourhood centres, by having volunteers from the community keep a watch on children and the elderly crossing the roads.
Hence, let us all do our part. On its part, let me assure the House that Traffic Police will continue to work closely with fellow professional agencies, like the Land Transport Authority, to improve road safety in Singapore.
Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong: Sir, can I ask the Senior Minister of State whether there is a study done on the bicycle accidents that have taken place and who tends to be at fault so that we can tackle the weak points?
Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Sir, it is a mixture of reasons. One reason is that motorists have not been keeping a good and proper lookout. There are other reasons, for example, the cyclists cycle across the pedestrian crossing, as has happened before. It is the fault of the cyclists.
I think it is a matter of education and of being aware of each other's presence. If we take this collective approach, then the well-being of all road-users can be safeguarded.
Mdm Cynthia Phua (Aljunied): Sir, do we have a breakdown of the statistics of those that are involved in the accidents, for example, the children, the various adult age groups or even the foreign workers - I see a lot of foreign workers cycling around the estates - so that education efforts could be targeted?
Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Sir, in terms of the accidents involving cyclists, the number has crept up slightly. In terms of fatalities that have come up this year, most of them did not involve children. Once in a while we may have a child being hurt, and that catches our attention. But the vast number of cyclists will be adult cyclists. I think it is better to really cover the ground, because we are also concerned about children. And, indeed, in terms of children's awareness of road dangers, we cannot take that for granted.
Let us take this current approach where Traffic Police will cover the ground working with various agencies to bring home the important message of not only safe cycling but also safe use of the roads and safe driving.
Ms Braema Mathiaparanam (Nominated Member): Sir, I am curious about the educational programmes that are given to pedestrians. I am asking this because right now there is a misreading at pedestrian crossings.
The elderly person or the child does not know whether to cross or to wait. The motorist is also having that same dilemma. I think there is a lack of consistency and the pedestrians need to be informed that it is within their right to make a crossing. To have 16-17 people dying at pedestrian crossings is not a joke.
Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Sir, there is no confusion on the rules. But on the ground, it is important to do the right thing in a certain situation. For example, at a pedestrian crossing, the pedestrian will have the right of way. But our advice is that pedestrians must also be careful, because there may be drivers of cars who may not see you or who may be speeding or the driver may be drunk.
If that happens, whilst a pedestrian may have the law on his side, he also suffers. So let us take this approach where we will continue to educate all concerned. It is better to be safe than sorry.
For example, for young children and for the elderly, the advice to them is that when they cross a pedestrian crossing, they should raise their hands to catch attention. It is not required by the law. But our advice to all, including parents with children, is they may want to do that little bit extra.
I have been to many Traffic Police functions over the years encouraging Singaporeans to be better motorists and better road users. If all of us can internalise it and if each of us with our own circle of contacts, whether as parents or siblings or children, can keep reminding our loved ones to be careful on the roads, that will go some way.
Dr Chong Weng Chiew (Tanjong Pagar): Sir, recently, I have seen a large number of bicycles equipped with self-installed motors travelling on the streets. Can I find out how aggressive is the authority clamping down on such activities? Do we see a need for stricter licensing requirements for such vehicles? I believe this is partly related to the Ministry of Transport.
Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Sir, this is under the Land Transport Authority. I think there is a categorisation where if it is above a certain capacity, then they will have to register. In terms of the details, the
Member has to file a question with the Ministry of Transport.
Dr Wang Kai Yuen (Bukit Timah): Sir, would the Minister consider introducing legislation in the House to increase the penalty on errant drivers in situations where they are clearly at fault, and also to shift the onus of blame in such accidents on to the motorists, in favour of the pedestrian or cyclist?
Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Just to clarify on the Member's question, is he asking us to raise the punishment when the accident involves pedestrians and cyclists?
Dr Wang Kai Yuen: The motorist is at fault.
Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: It all depends on the circumstances. There are enough sections in our various Acts, because we can charge a person under the Road Traffic Act or under the Penal Code. There is also a whole range of possible sections.
So, for example, we can charge a person for careless driving or dangerous driving. In terms of the arsenal available for punishing errant motorists, it is there. For example, the Member, who has been in this House for a long time, will know that, in fact, the penalty for drivers who exceed the speed limit by more than 50 km per hour, the demerit points go up and his susceptibility to being suspended also goes up.
Over the years, we have finetuned the range of punishments. What is really now needed is awareness that everybody can play a part.
Dr Wang Kai Yuen: Sir, the reason why I ask is that I recall an accident case involving a lady driver and a woman with a baby at the pedestrian crossing of a road junction. In that case, when it came before the court, it was found that the pedestrian was at fault. From that judgment, it seems that if a person is at fault and gets killed, it is his problem. I am asking whether we can introduce legislation in this House to shift the blame on to the motorist regardless of who is at fault.
Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: I think each case will depend on its own facts. When the case goes before the court, the respective lawyers will argue the case. Sometimes, one party is wholly negligent. Sometimes, there is contributory negligence. The laws are there. I think it is better that the facts are presented before the judge who will then make a decision as to whether one side is wholly liable or both sides are liable and how to apportion the liability.
Mr Chiam See Tong (Potong Pasir): Sir, I wonder whether the Minister is willing to tighten and enforce the traffic laws in relation to cyclists. I notice that cyclists are cycling haphazardly on the roads. They turn and cross the road wherever they like. I also notice that bicycles are badly maintained.
In the dark roads, many of them do not have any light at all. I live at a place where the road is going down a slope and I can hear these cyclists screeching down the road.
Mr Speaker: Do you mean "bicycles"?
Mr Chiam See Tong: It shows that their brakes are not in order.
Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Sir, in fact, we do have the Road Traffic (Bicycle) Rules where rules have been set down governing cycling behaviour. For example, if you are cycling at night, your bicycle must have proper lighting. Also, you cannot cycle against the flow of traffic. The rules are there. It is a matter of enforcement. The Traffic Police is mindful of the need to ensure road safety.
Of course, it is also a matter of usage of resources because, in terms of road users that cause the greatest harm, it is really the motorists who speed or drink drive. So, let us leave it to the Traffic Police to do their job.
Ultimately, the main point is that all who use Singapore roads should have that assurance that if they do their part, their lives will be safeguarded.
Mr Steve Chia Kiah Hong: Two supplementary questions, Mr Speaker, Sir. First, can the Minister clarify if riding with slippers or sandals on the road constitutes a traffic offence? If it is, what is the rationale behind it?
Secondly, will the Ministry look into capturing more specific data on accidents for data analysis so as to better understand the likely causes which lead to an accident? So far, we read of newspaper reports saying that the motorcyclist lost control of his vehicle. It seems irrational that the motorcyclist happily riding on the road suddenly loses control. Something must have caused the accident. Maybe more specific data could be captured for analysis.
Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Is the Member talking about motorcyclists or pedal cyclists?
Mr Steve Chia Kiah Hong: Motorcyclists.
Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: I think Mr Steve Chia rides a motorcycle. There is no prohibition against what kind of attire he should wear. It is more a question of education. Hence, it is common sense that a motocyclist should wear something that will not impede his control of the vehicle. I think we cannot regulate the T's and the I's. Ultimately, it is how the motorcyclist controls his machine. I think that is important. And this is where education comes in. Ultimately, if a person knows that what he does is really for his own safety, he would take the necessary precautions.
10th Parliamentary Debates Singapore. Official Report, Volume 76 No. 22, 16th October 2003. Oral Answers to Questions: 12. Integrating cycle paths into traffic system
Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong asked the Minister for Transport, in view of the rising number of cyclists involved in traffic accidents and of Singaporeans taking up cycling, will his Ministry study how developed countries such as Holland and Germany have brought down bicycle accidents drastically by integrating cycle paths into the traffic system in a coordinated network for both leisure cyclists and commuters.
The Minister of State for Transport (Dr Balaji Sadasivan) (for the Minister for Transport): Mr Speaker, Sir, in land scarce Singapore, our limited road space should be used for the efficient movement of people and goods. Because of this, we have only set aside dedicated road space for bus lanes and, that too, only for certain hours of the day and at certain locations. Bus lanes are justified because buses carry many more people than other vehicles. It would not be cost-effective nor physically feasible, in view of our limited land, to set aside dedicated road space for other vehicles, including bicycles.
Although we do not have the luxury of providing dedicated bicycle paths, as in Holland and Germany, we continue to study others' experiences and explore measures that help to enhance the safety of our road users, including cyclists.
Members may wish to note that the number of injuries involving cyclists has remained stable in recent years. Nonetheless, both Traffic Police and LTA will continue to take measures to reduce such incidents. These include the use of traffic calming measures, such as speed humps, education of road users, and enforcement of traffic rules.
Recently, a national road safety workshop was also conducted, with the participation of many concerned parties, to brainstorm new ideas that can further improve the safety of cyclists, amongst other vulnerable road users. These ideas include enhanced regulations on bicycles and cyclists, new traffic rules and more public education.
Public education is particularly important, as both cyclists and motorists play a crucial part in preventing road accidents. The ideas are being studied by the relevant authorities.
Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong: Sir, that Singapore is land scarce is a given. The question is: how do we help, in terms of physical infrastructure, roads and space, to reduce the number of cyclists dying on the roads? Just in the first half of this year, 11 cyclists died, compared to five in the same period last year. This is a high number that we should not tolerate. If it means building a few more lanes to schools or markets, why do we not invest in them?
Dr Balaji Sadasivan: Mr Speaker, Sir, in countries like Germany and Holland, they do build such special lanes. I have been to Germany and Holland. In Amsterdam, they have special bicycle lanes and cyclists rule the road. The sight of cyclists ruling the road and motorists being given a lower priority is most appealing.
For one thing, it is environmentally friendly. Cyclists only release carbon dioxide. There is no carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide and particulate matter that combustion engines release. The puffing and wheezing of cyclists and the sound of swirling bicycle wheels is less jarring on the ears than the raw motorcycles and motorcars.
Cycling is also a good form of exercise. By cycling to work, you accomplish two goals at the same time. You can get your exercise and get to work at the same time.
But the reality is, in Singapore, land is scarce. Less than 1% of Singaporeans use the bicycle for regular travel. Our land is limited. If we designate special bicycle lanes for the less than 1% of travellers for the use of bicycles, it would be at the expense of either existing road lanes or pedestrian ways. If we convert one road lane in our roads for cyclists, it means that 99% of Singaporeans who use buses, cars or motorcycles may be tied up in a gridlock of traffic jams.
If we convert pedestrian ways to cycle lanes, then our pedestrians would have nowhere to walk and would be in danger of being knocked down by bicycles.
Even if we have special bicycle lanes, how many Singaporeans will cycle to work or the market? Our weather is different from the temperate climate which is present in Germany and Holland. Cycle for five minutes in the hot and humid afternoon and you will be soaked in sweat. If you do not shower at your destination, you will smell of stale sweat for the rest of the day. And, of course, ladies will have to redo their face because their make-up will come off.
Sir, cycling is still for Germany and Holland, but for Singapore, it is not practical.
Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong: Sir, I feel that the Minister of State might have painted a too simplistic picture and also in giving a trade-off that we need not have to make, that is, a trade-off between cyclists ruling the road and not even having space for pedestrians to walk. I think we can meet the demands of the different groups without sacrificing the principle that we have to use our land wisely.
I think the seriousness of the problem might not have sunk down to the Minister of State.
Mr Speaker: What is your question, Ms Ng?
Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong: I would invite the Minister of State to Tampines where we can see many housewives bringing their children to school on bicycles. I would ask the Minister of State to seriously consider doing a survey, going down to the ground, to schools, wet markets and MRT tracks, and see how commuters have been using the roads, and on how to make the roads safer for the cyclists who are trying to save money by not taking buses because transport costs are going up. So they are taking up cycling.
There is also a bigger group of people who are keen to cycle. I would urge the Minister of State to take
this seriously and to please help the cyclists to negotiate on the road without risks to their lives.
Dr Balaji Sadasivan: Mr Speaker, Sir, we take the safety of cyclists seriously. Earlier this month, on 2nd and 3rd October, a major conference was held, ie, the Asian Development Bank's ASEAN Road Safety Programme. Experts and various stakeholders on road safety were at this meeting. A lot of brainstorming was done about ideas that can reduce the number of fatalities on the road. We are considering these ideas and the
various authorities are looking at them.
Mr Sin Boon Ann: Sir, I thought the earlier question asked by my colleague was: how does the Ministry intend to reduce the number of cycle deaths because, in the same comparable period, the number of fatalities has actually gone up? Can the Minister of State give an indication of the steps that the Ministry is contemplating in this regard?
Dr Balaji Sadasivan: Overall, the fatalities on our roads per capita are lower than most developed countries like the United States, and it has come down, as compared to about 10 years ago. Among the ideas that were generated were more stricter rules on cyclists and more education for cyclists and other road users.
Mr Steve Chia Kiah Hong: Mr Speaker, Sir, would the Minister of State consider a trial bicycle lane in the MP's constituency to see how good is the demand for bicycle lanes? That may solve the problem.
Dr Balaji Sadasivan: If there is a Member of Parliament who requests for bicycle lanes in his constituency, we will study that.
Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong: Sir, the Minister of State has mentioned the number of fatalities, saying that it has not changed much. But I would ask the Minister to look at another figure, which I would think is more telling, and that is the number of cyclists involved in traffic accidents.
From 1998, it was 266 but it rose to 363 last year. It is a drastic rise and whether one dies or not, it is a matter of luck. But the question is how to reduce the number of cyclists involved in accidents. We should be looking at the number of cyclists involved in traffic accidents.
Dr Balaji Sadasivan: I agree with the Member that cyclists are a risk group. Once upon a time, motorcyclists were a major risk group and the use of safety helmets has greatly reduced the number of deaths. We need to consider what else we can do to reduce the number of fatalities amongst cyclists.
Mr Speaker: I think we have "cycled" far enough. Your next question, Ms Irene Ng.