Tuesday, April 08, 2008

License bicycles?

During discussions with my cycling friends, the only real solution to many of the problems we see on the road has been licensing. And I mean a license that you get after passing a test! Logistically however, that structure seems to be beyond the sort of licensing fee that a "cycle to work" type of cyclists can afford. Despite their rising popularity, a critical use of bicycles is still poor man's transport. So my friends shake their heads and the discussion turns back to long-term solutions.

Recently, in light of the impending completion of the Tampines pavement cycling trial, the media and bloggers have highlighted hit and run cases between pedestrians and cyclists. Additionally there have been more than a few reports suggesting blatant bicycle theft is prevalent in some areas.

In response, this letter to Today suggests bringing back the sort of licenses that ran out of use in the 70's. A big red disk with a number displayed in the rear or alongside the rear wheel, with the optional anti-theft measure of etching the number on the frame.

Letter to Today, 08 Apr 2008
Letter from Sito Kok Kee

There has been much debate over cyclists using walkways meant for pedestrians. In any case, the number of bicycles in Singapore is set to grow.

Therefore, I would like to suggest that the authorities consider licensing bicycles. If every bicycle has a licence plate, even the most errant cyclist will behave as the blanket of anonymity is removed.

At present, in the event of a bicycle-pedestrian collision, a pedestrian either hopes the cyclist will stop and render help or has to give chase to seek compensation.

It will also help to curb bicycle thefts as the licence number can be etched onto the bike. Now, if you lose your bike, there is little hope of ever seeing it again.


budak said...

being a newbie road cyclist, i am finding the seamless weaving between pavements, road and crossings by the itinerant riders as much as hazard as heavy vehicles. it's as if they assume everyone else on the road can read their minds and intentions, sometimes with fatal results...


thomask said...

oh oh, i have an idea. let's license supermarket trolleys too. i was hit in the ankle the other day by an an old auntie driving a trolley recklessly! i wanted compensation, but she scampered away before i could catch her, what with my ankle injury. we should also have separate lanes in the supermarket for trolley pushers and basket carriers.

licensing would also stop trolleys being driven and dumped willy nilly about the lands. supermarkets could etch individual IDs on the frames too, as the police are always very interested and keen to catch the naughty trolley stealers who push them all the way home to their hdb complexes and sell them for scrap steel.

get a grip people. it's a bicycle for goodness sake. buy a helmet. buy a (good) lock. ride safely. don't whinge.

Sivasothi said...

I don't really think licensing is feasible myself, although I yearn for it regularly! I am certainly not blind to the problem some cyclists pose to the rest of the public.

The pedestrian collision issue cannot be nonchalantly dismissed. I have been at risk myself from inconsiderate pavement-speeding cyclists. Happily I am large and willing enough to force them to stop when I do not give way.

The elderly are particularly vulnerable and a simple fall can lead to severe injury. I don't think they should be feeling fearful amongst the narrow pavements of their estates.

Singapore's rapidly aging population simply means this proportion at high risk will increase.

The accountability suggested by something like licensing is attractive since it will help in moderating recklessness. Well, most of the time. You know what some vehicles do to cyclists - and our helmets aren't much help in those circumstances.

Still in most of these issues, the "us" and "them," the separation isn;t applicable to type of vehicle used but the considerateness and generosity of the individual.

In the mean time, I am eagerly awaiting the Tampines trial results. Hope they do a robust analysis.