Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Traffic Police Video for Pedal Cyclists, Singapore and comments by SATan

This video produced by the Traffic Police about road safety for cyclists was uploadded by LingtheMErciless to YouTube last year.

SATan posted her reaction to the video on her blog a week later and since its no longer updated, I got permission t reproduce it here:

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"Traffic Police safety video for pedal cyclists." By S. A. Tan. .synthesized, 20 Aug 2006.

The road safety video
(Yes, it’s a little old, but still…)

Well, it does have a few good points, but I do have a few issues with the video…..

1) Who the hell wears elbow pads and knee pads?
Ya, wearing a helmet on the road is a good thing (unfortunately, I don't, but I might be persuaded to), but elbow pads and knee pads? That does seem a little excessive.
Motorcyclists wearing elbow pads and knee pads is one thing.... but bicyclists? (Yes, I know some motorcyclists would even find wearing elbow and knee pads excessive).

Wearing a helmet while riding somewhere like a park or cycle track is in my opinion safe but unnecessary.

2) Do I see a white rear light somewhere?
I thought rear lights must be red? Dunno about front lights though, someone said that they must be white, mine used to be white until I bought a trippy multicoloured colour-changing light from my school (from a stall set up by the School of business people) and now the front of my bike looks like a rave party.

3) And stay as close to the left kerb as possible? That is just wrong.
Some things I have encountered in the extreme left of the left lane:

* Big puddles
* Long twigs
* A dead bird (yes, a dead bird, I only saw it when my front wheel was inches from it, and I'm lucky it didn't fly up and slap me in the face)
* Glass.
* Holes and cracks and other assorted stuff.

(Yes, I can't bunnyhop, so what?)

In some situations, it would be better to move out a little, such as

* moving out a little does give you somewhere to escape to in case a driver miscalculates the distance needed to pass you, however, it also pisses off some drivers, so use as you see fit.
* when you need to go straight on a left turn or straight and left turn road, so that you don't end up being sandwiched between a left turning car and the kerb.
* When stopping , so that a car doesn't get tempted to stop beside you, effectively blocking your view from other traffic.

And how are you going to overtake (yes, it happens) or make a right turn anyway?

4) And pay attention to the damn traffic when you're on the road.
Yes, even at a red light or whatever, don't stand around and talk cock with your friend. Watch the damn traffic! You can even pick up clues about what risks you may face when you start moving, eg. the driver talking on his cellphone, the guy on the 2B sportbike with the probation plate and the girlfriend riding pillion (most of them speed and ride recklessly, are preoccupied with showing off to their girlfriends, and haven't been in enough accidents to get scared yet), the motorcyclist which won't stop playing with his throttle (Likely to be impatient, aggressive: in my bike lesson, when I end up beside one, I can be sure of one thing: I'll have to give way to him cause he won't).

5) Riding on the pavement is ok IF
* the route is safe for both you and pedestrians sharing the pavement with you (wide pavement, light human traffic, etc.)
* you have competent bike handling skills (no need to know how to bunnyhop or wheelie or what, just need to be able to balance at extremely slow speeds, negotiate tight turns at low speed, stop consistently)
* good judgement
* discipline (no stunts (yes, even if there is a pretty girl you want to impress) or swerving in and out or riding fast or whatever)

However, crossing the road becomes problematic.
Often, one has to check three opposing and difficult to see directions for cars before crossing. For example, to the right directly behind you, to the right in front of you, and to the left in front of you. This is made worse by the fact that cars usually do not expect bikes to move out onto the road at all, especially not at that speed. Plus, need to check in front of you so you don't fall into any hole or hit any pedestrian, especially cause most pedestrians are even more careless than drivers, move unpredictably and don’t look where they’re going.

Can become quite a handful on a moving vehicle.
(Yes, I don't dismount. Hehe)
If you dismount, you may have to stop at the centre to wait for the traffic on the other lane to clear, with your bike perpendicular to the traffic and your bike's big butt effectively blocking the traffic behind you. Cue horning.
Most of my bad encounters with cars happened while I was riding on the pavement and needed to cross the road.

Depending on where you are, riding on the pavement can indeed be more problematic and dangerous than taking the road directly beside it.

And try not to ride on a crowded pavement, duh.

Actually, it depends on the route, some routes are easier and safer by pavement, some by road. It’s up to your own judgement.

What I find even more disturbing is that the video seems to treat bicyclists only as temporary road users and doesn't educate them about things that are far more important, such as what to look out for, where to check, changing lanes, right-turning, what kind of risks they face, etc.

And most importantly, patience, alertness, anticipation, level-headedness, good judgement, discipline and a respect of the people (and animals) that are sharing wherever you choose to ride with you. And whatever you choose to do, be decisive!!!! (this one I learnt from learning to ride motorcycle, hehe)

Just my two cents. (And I’m not anywhere near the world’s most perfect bicyclist, so use at your own risk).

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Anonymous said...

It is such a baaaaad video... urgh.
It maybe fine for auntie and uncle to cycle in the Parks, but not for people who want to travel by bycicle.

For example: if you stay on the left side of the road, what do you think will happen when you want to go straight and the cars want to turn left?

In the Video you see Uncle and MehMeh cycling together side by side!

And good to see our MPs speaking ploper anglish like our uncles; they can even stop right in the middle of the road to talk to camera.

Yokota Fritz said...

Do people really cycle with elbow and knee pads in Singapore??

The recommendation to cycle as close the kerb "as possible" goes completely against the experience and advice of cycling safety professionals, and in law in many nations using UK Common Law. The typical law is as near to the side of the road "as practicable." Riding inches from the curb invites real danger because motorists don't look for cyclists at the edge of the road.

Urban DIY Diva said...

Ahem! First, the traffic police should focus on educating the damn drivers!!!! Been knocked down, run off the road, etc. Shocking. The extreme left thing is right, but let's face it, we are vehicles too and the drivers should recognize that and not force us off the road.

The fault of this lies with the traffic police. Good for them to try to educate cyclists but PUH-LEEZE! Get out there and ticket drivers for absolutely shocking and bad driving behaviour! Singapore traffic police need to learn how to do a proper job and 'train' drivers to expect tickets when they do bad, instead of letting the speed cameras do the work of the police.

Jimmy from Yishun said...

I was nearly got knocked down by a car this afternoon (25 Apr 09) at the zebra crossing at junction of Lentor Ave and Yishun Ave 1 (closest to park). I was riding slowly along side the pavement for pedestrian and crossing the zebra towards the traffic light. As usual, there are hordes of cars making their left turn to town via Lentor Ave.

With all my excuses and the driver's as well, there must be some way to make traveling or enjoyment of cycling a safer thing.

i am surprised that the so-called "accusations" of the other drivers behind the vehicle was pointing that the cyclist was the fault if anything happens.

These are the things that i have observed (some could be my mistakes).

1) i didnt stop the bicycle and push it across the zebra crossing.
2) even though the place might seem isolated, the driver should take an effort to check (left, right, up , down, front and behind aka 360') before speeding up.
3) driver should slow their vehicle enough at crossings to prevent accidents from happening like kids or bicycles dashing across.
4) the bushes or simply the design of the crossing needs major overhaul. drivers simply cant see pedestrians or any wild animals (ahem)
5) drivers should buckle up their kids, wife or mistress!

Back2Nature said...

Hi, Jimmy, at least you recognize that you are at fault for not pushing your bicycle across the zebra crossing.

You can list down all the should's but be very clear that these are just the should's. My guess is either you are a very good driver or you don't drive. Personally, I feel that having driving experience is a plus for cycling on roads.

Virtually all drivers look out for pedestrians when approaching a pedestrian crossing. Thus, if your speed is much faster than a typical pedestrian, it is very easy for you to be not noticed by drivers.