Monday, September 15, 2008

Letter - "Here's how to make cycling safe for all"

Today, 15 Sep 2008
Letter from Harold Tay

I REFER to "A cycle of change" (Sept 13). The writer has overestimated the importance of integrating bicycles on buses. This distracts from more important issues such as road safety. The most important thing that can be done to encourage cycling is to make it safer for cyclists on our roads. To this end, the Traffic Police is to be commended on their recent campaign targeting motorists, "Be safe, save lives".

The writer seems to feel that there is great contention between buses and cyclists. This was true in the past and is still true in the case of private buses, but for public buses, the situation has improved immensely.

The situation near bus stops requires only cyclist education: Cyclists need to take the whole lane at junctions where there may be contention.

Public bus drivers understand this.

Let me list some factors we should not be tempted by, at least not yet:
  • Cycle lanes. Recognise that the danger arises at junctions, which cycle lanes do not address.

  • Cycle paths. Not cost effective and they will be automatically repurposed for recreation, making them less useful for commuting.

  • Bicycle-mass transit integration. Our transport operators aren't interested in this and the number of commuters interested in this option is also quite low. Commuters are locking up their bikes at MRT stations and bus stops: This is a big hint.

We should instead be concentrating on these:

  • Improving driver safety education. The curriculum in driving schools should include training on sharing the road with cyclists.

  • Bring back the policemen on bicycles. Nothing lends more legitimacy to cycling than this act.

  • Increase the penalties for motorist traffic infractions that endanger lives. Motorists typically do not gauge properly the danger they impose.

  • Permit non-motorised bicycle use on pedestrian pavements everywhere but enforce a rule that a bicycle may not overtake a pedestrian. Pedestrians hate being overtaken and this rule makes infraction detection easy. A cyclist wanting to go faster should be on the road.

  • Bring some order to the use of motor-assisted bicycles. A simple rule to use is, if such a bicycle is seen going uphill or starting off without the cyclist expending any effort, then the cyclist should be charged with operating an unlicenced motorcycle.

  • Cyclist training. Target the single largest cycling group for education: Foreign workers. Training this single group will have a knock-on effect.


Anonymous said...

I would agree with Harold on many points he raised, and from the article, I think he is a cyclist on Singapore roads. Opinions from such cyclists is very valuable.

One point should need improvement. To disallow overtaking pedestrian on pedestrian pavements is a bit over done. I suggest disallow overtaking before a pedestrian is aware of an oncoming bicycle. A problem is I don't think bicycle bell should be use to alert pedestrians. Something more soothing that sound like asking a favour would be better.

This rule of not overtaking might be applicable on the upslope of those barrier free overhead crossings, while riding on and down such overhead crossing should be actively disallowed.

I support the importance and effectiveness of education, provided the educators are themselves experienced cyclists on the road, and not just some people from the Traffic Police who are inexperienced in this.

Chu Wa said...

"Increase the penalties for motorist traffic infractions that endanger lives. Motorists typically do not gauge properly the danger they impose."
I completely agree with this point. I feel the penalties should at least match the suffering of the victim in order to bring some sense of seriousness to the too often "accident" or "mistake" we are seeing everyday.