Monday, February 09, 2009

Bicycle, pedestrian, speeding and road safety

A couple of news related to bicycle and road safety over the weekend:

1) Chip, or Mr Charles W Goodyear, the new CEO of Temasek holdings was known to cycle to work in Melbourne while being the boss of the world' largest mining company. I hope he will continue to do so in Singapore and give his staffs and the media a much needed "bicycle culture shock". (Weekend Today, February 7-8, front page)

2) Make road safer for the elderly (SundayTimes, February 8, page H10) reflected that most elderly people felt that pedestrian crossing light should stay longer and there should be more traffic light crossing instead of overhead bridges. While Singapore's pedestrian infrastructure is world-class, a lot more can be done for the elderly. There are many area in Singapore, like Toa Payoh, has been transformed from an industrial area to a residential area. However, many of the road design still remind the same, which was good for large trucks, but very dangerous for people, especially elderly and young children. For example, the large radius banding junction from Toa Payoh Lorong 1 into Lorong 1A is good for the cars and trucks to make a quick turn, but very dangerous for people crossing the Lorong 1A. In fact, there is no proper crossing at that spot until 50 meters down the road. The problem is, almost nobody will walk another 50 meter down the road when the food stalls they want to go is just across the road. This is human nature, ask yourself, including the one who design the crossing and foot bridges, can you assure that you never cross a road where there is no pedestrian crossing? In this respect, we are all jaywalker at one point or another.
I would like to see more consideration given to make the road junctions safer for pedestrians and other non-motorists.

3) Putting the brakes on pile-ups (SundayTimes, February 8, page H10) talk about the danger of speeding on the expressway. According to the Traffic Police there were 1748 speed related road accidents and 83 were killed. I read it as: 83 families were ruined due to someone speeding on the road, may be the driver was not careful, or on the phone, or drunk, or angry or whatever, but non of these reasons justify someone got killed, not even for the driver himself. I feel some of Singapore roads are designed for higher speed than the speed limits. I simply don't "feel" driving at 60km/h is 10 km/h above the speed limit in many well paved, wide roads in Singapore. In Europe, many of the road design deliberately make "psychological obstacles" to slow down the car speed for safer roads. Narrower road, more bending, humps, center islands are all easily adoptable. One good example is the pedestrian crossing behind Geylang Polyclinic across Aljunied Ave. 2. There is a large hump, a narrow road and clear zebra crossing. I never saw any car failed to slow down at that crossing.

4)President Arroyo issues order encouraging people to walk, bike, and ride the train
In an effort to reduce the country’s carbon footprint and improve air quality, President Arroyo has ordered transport authorities to craft a national Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) strategy for the country.
"The new paradigm in the movement of men and things must follow a simple principle: Those who have less in wheels must have more in road," the presidential order stated.
Now even the less developed countries are more bold on non-motorized transport. It's time for Singapore to catch up, not only to more developed countries like UK, France and Holland, which already have more solid policy to promote the use of bicycle on road, but also to less developed countries like China, India, Philippines and Indonesia, they too, discovered non-motorized transport is the best way to move on.


HanSolo said...

Hi, I'd like to point out that pile-ups are caused by tailgating, and NOT speeding.

Speeding increases the severity of the accident, but it's the dangerous tendency to tailgate that causes the accident in the first place.

"83 families were ruined due to someone speeding on the road, may be the driver was not careful, or on the phone, or drunk, or angry"

You listed so many factors, speeding is just one of them. So why does the Traffic Police has its sights on speeding?

Because it's the easiest offence to catch. All you need is a radar gun.

I fear they're barking up the wrong tree. We should target inattentive, inconsiderate, tailgating drivers instead.

Sivasothi said...

Well, I'd say simply multiple factors contribute. Speeding and yes, tail-gating I'd think are significant.

I have wondered more than once on the road (as a passenger) the highway code admonitions about keeping one's distance.

thomask said...

without doubt the terrible driving skills / practices are to blame here:

tailgating, sudden changes of lane, driving in two lanes simultaneously, failure to indicate a lane change, talking on the mobile, letting kids run around the car (are child seats not compulsory here!?), driving / parking on the footpath (i've seen it more than once), overtaking on a single lane road (sixth avenue!) and running red lights, especially pedestrian crossings.

no wonder the road toll is so stupidly high here.

Kenichi Sato said...

Regarding road safety, should it be okay for bicycle riders to skitch/hitch a ride from cars provided the cyclist knows what he's doing and the vehicle driver understands and allows it? To me this is a serious issue as I use my road bike for transport purposes and I always skitch rides from cars during my journeys! I envision a bicycle courier sub-culture here in Singapore and this is where I got my skitching inspiration from! If skitching is allowed legally I would be setting up classes on how to do it, hah!

You can check out my blog here at