Friday, April 09, 2010

"Get cyclists off the footpaths: Pedestrians" (The Straits Times)

"Get cyclists off the footpaths: Pedestrians," by Irene Tham. The Straits Times, 04 Apr 2010.Many want recourse against riders who ignore rules and throw caution to the wind.

Get cyclists off the footpaths: Pedestrians

Mr Kelvin Khoo, 38, has stopped taking evening walks with his wife around his estate near Bedok North.

He is wary of cyclists who pedal illegally on footpaths. 'They come at such high speeds,' said the personal wealth manager.

On several occasions, they nearly hit the couple.

Mr Khoo also stopped taking his three children, aged four, six and nine, to the East Coast Park. They have had so many near misses, he said.

His fears may be justified. The number of accidents involving pedestrians was 1,075 last year, or about three a day.

The police did not break down the causes of these accidents - whether by car, motorcycle or bicycle.

'Why do I have to walk fearing that a bike may hit me or my children?' asked Mr Khoo. His frustrations are shared by many.

After Tampines became Singapore's first cycling town on March1, dozens of readers vented their anger on The Straits Times' online discussion board, complaining about cyclists ignoring traffic rules.

Several writers to The Straits Times and The New Paper forum pages voiced unhappiness over sharing pavements with cyclists.

Many wanted the authorities to clarify the recourse for a pedestrian should he be hit by a cyclist on a walkway.

Wrote Mr Allan Zheng, whose forum letter to The New Paper was published on March 19: 'Say I manage to catch a cyclist who knocks me down on the footpath. When I hand the cyclist over to the police, can any action be taken?

'Won't I just be told to get a magistrate's order, as I believe being knocked down by a cyclist is a non-seizable offence?'

<Get cyclists off the footpaths_ Pedestrians

In Singapore, cycling on the footways of roads is an offence, except in Tampines town. If convicted in court, first-time offenders may be fined up to $1,000 or jailed up to three months. Repeat offenders may get a fine of $2,000 or a jail sentence of up to six months.

Cyclists may also be punished under the Penal Code for riding in public places in a rash or negligent manner.

If convicted, the offender faces a jail term of up to one year, or a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

However, the injured pedestrian has to first make a police report. 'The police will investigate. Depending on the outcome, we will take the appropriate action,' said a police spokesman.

The police may take up the case for the victim, but they do not automatically prosecute errant cyclists, lawyers told The Sunday Times.

The victim can make a civil claim or a magistrate's complaint for a private summons to prosecute the cyclist.

'But the burden of proof of a cyclist's negligence lies with the victim,' said Mr Patrick Yeo, litigation partner of the Insurance Practice Group at law firm KhattarWong.

'The victim usually needs a lawyer as he may not have enough legal knowledge or expertise to properly conduct and succeed in his civil claim in court.'

Depending on the amount of damages the victim is seeking, he may not be able to justify the legal fees, he added.

'For instance, if you sue a poor, uninsured cyclist, you may get only a paper judgment as the cyclist would not be able to satisfy or pay the judgment.'

Cyclists are not required by law to be compulsorily insured for third-party liability.

Last year, more than 1,500 summonses were issued by the police to cyclists for violating traffic rules.

Of these, about 700 were for illegal riding along the footways of roads - a six-fold increase from 115 in 2008.

Even Tampines is not immune to such reckless habits.

A resident, who wanted to be known only as Madam Lim, said she was almost knocked down on several occasions by cyclists rushing to work at the bus stop in front of her block in Tampines Street 45.

'The cyclists weave through people waiting at the bus stop,' said Madam Lim, who is eight months pregnant.

Another resident said the authorities should widen all the footpaths in Tampines before allowing cyclists to use them.

'It is quite a squeeze in many places as not all pavements have been widened,' said Mr Francis How, 53, an insurance agent.

Asked how pedestrians' safety is ensured, a spokesman for Tampines Town Council said its amended by-laws allow it to take enforcement action against reckless cyclists.

Since March 1, it has issued more than 40 warnings to cyclists for speeding, not giving way to pedestrians and not installing lights on their bicycles.

Its volunteer cycling wardens conduct regular patrols, the spokesman said, declining to disclose the frequency of these checks 'to preserve the element of surprise'. [7th April 2010: The Tampines Town Council has clarified that the cycling wardens accompany the auxiliary police officers, who are the ones issuing warnings and summonses during their patrols.]

Near misses

"They come at such high speeds... Why do I have to walk fearing that a bike may hit me or my children?" - MR KELVIN KHOO, 38, a wealth manager who has given up taking evening strolls around his estate near Bedok North

Not a breeze

"It is quite a squeeze in many places as not all pavements have been widened." - MR FRANCIS HOW, 53, an insurance agent who lives in Tampines, Singapore's cycling town, which has widened footways and clearly marked paths for cyclists and pedestrians

What recourse?

"Say I manage to catch a cyclist who knocks me down on the footpath. When I hand the cyclist over to the police, can any action be taken? Won't I just be told to get a magistrate's order?" - MR ALLAN ZHENG, who complained in a letter to The New Paper

What it should have been
(Published on 7th April, 2010)

In an April 4 report, 'Get cyclists off the footpaths: Pedestrians' , The Sunday Times said volunteer cycling wardens conduct regular patrols in Tampines.

The Tampines Town Council has clarified that the cycling wardens accompany the auxiliary police officers, who are the ones issuing warnings and summonses during their patrols.


Anonymous said...

There has to be some safety campaign to educate cyclists on the right behaviour when on footpaths. Banning cycling on footpaths is not the right solution as most cyclists will not be able to handle cycling on the roads, where accidents are more likely to be severe or even fatal.

Back2Nature said...

It may not sound nice but I think a simple campaign is "ignore the bicycle bell" campaign.

Long said...

I'm a cyclist and I am very irritated by cyclists who cycle on the pedestrian pavement, especially those who ride very fast and ring their bell incessantly behind you. These people should have their bicycles confiscated!

A lot of such cyclists are Chinese nationals as well! I wonder if there are a lot of coverage in the Chinese papers to reach out to these people too!

Anonymous said...

im a biker myself and i feel that as a biker he or she should seriously think about walking pedestrians... like whether they will be shocked to see you zooming by without warning. That is why i make it a point to install a loud bell, flashing rear and front lights on my bike. Furthermore i advise all bikers to slow down to a walking pace when approaching a busstop.

Biking can be safe and fun when you are considerate about other people's safety

AbusedCyclist said...

Must protect both cyclists and pedestrians. Cyclists should be banned from certain roads with fast traffic and little/no shoulder. Cyclists should stick to pavements, BUT must observe the same speed as pedestrians. Gentle ringing of bells is allowed JUST BEHIND a walking/obstructing pedestrian. When pavements are clear of traffic, cyclists must observe speed limit of 12km/h (jogger's speed). When overtaking pedestrians, cyclists must do so near a crawl; never surprise or scare pedestrians with high speed.

I hope this becomes law. I've been beaten up by pedestrians when I edged past them. Why? Some cyclists way behind me rang their bells loudly and incessantly. I'm Singaporean. Yes, the cyclists behind are Chinese, but that's not the point. Remove the misunderstanding. Enact firm and clear laws.

Back2Nature said...

I am a cyclist. I still strongly think that cyclists should not use bells, soft or loud. Because cyclists should not have rights on pavements. On pavement, cyclists must accept to be obstructed by slower moving pedestrians. I suggest stopped peddling and kindly say "excuse me."

Why would a cyclist need to overtake pedestrians on footpath? If you are in a rush, use the roads. If you are not confident to use the roads, use public transport, or just run on foot.

jay said...

"Get cyclist off the footpaths" might work if pedestrians agree to get off the bicycle paths. Such should be mutual. When pedestrians insist on walking along the bicycle paths, bicycles are forced into the foot paths to avoid them. I agree that it would be rude for bicycles to ring at pedestrians while riding along the foot paths but if any accident happens between a pedestrian and a cyclist on a bicycle path, it is only equitable that the pedestrian bears the damages.

Anonymous said...

Using a bell is to indicate danger. A cyclist is a danger when trying to overtake because the cyclist is CREATING the danger. It is NOT the responsibility of the person in front of the cyclist to move simply because of the difference in speeds. It is the responsibility of the cyclist to ensure he/she passes the pedestrian safely. The only polite, safe and non-invasive way to do this is to dismount and walk past the pedestrian while using footpaths. That is why the path is a FOOTpath.

On the roads, cars should comply the same way. A faster driver overtakes a slower vehicle by moving around the vehicle, not by honking the horn and forcing the slower vehicle off the road. Motorised vehicles shoukd accord bicycles using the road the same courtesy as they do other vehicles.

There is a need for education of motorised vehicle drivers, non-motorised vehicle drivers (eg bikes) as well as pedestrians. The only tlime Rafferty's Rules should ever apply on eother the road or footpath is when everyone is giving way!

Anonymous said...

Cyclist should have speed limit too and obey Highway Code if they wan use the roads. Have come across incidents involving cyclist. Caused lots of pain and anxiety to both motorists and cyclists.