Friday, April 09, 2010

"Cyclists launch safety drive" (The Straits Times)

"Cyclists launch safety drive," by Mavis Toh. The Straits Times, 02 Apr 2010 (Home Section).
Groups to raise awareness among motorists

A 'ghost bicycle' - painted white - is parked in Clementi Road as a memorial to cyclist Benjamin Mok, who died last Wednesday after being hit by a suspected drunken driver. The bike is meant to raise awareness among drivers that cyclists also ply the roads. -- ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

CYCLING groups are stepping up efforts to raise awareness of cyclists on Singapore roads.

From distributing car decals to lobbying for a national safe cycling campaign to be launched, groups across the island will be doing their bit to highlight the concerns of Singapore's growing cyclist population.

Cyclist safety is again under the spotlight after cyclist Benjamin Mok died last Wednesday after being hit by a suspected drunken driver three days earlier. The death of Mr Mok, a freelance writer who had a cycling blog, caused a stir in the cycling community.

Last week, a 'ghost bike' memorial was erected at the accident scene in Clementi Road. The used bike, painted white, is meant to raise awareness among drivers that cyclists also ply the roads they use.

'The roads are getting crowded as more people are cycling and there are also more cars. Road sharing is a message we want to spread,' said Mr Lee Zi Shin, founder of cycling forum group Togoparts.

The group will be giving out 1,000 car decals - with the slogan 'Let's share our roads' - next week to spread the message.

The forum's Web address - - will also be printed on the decal, and a page with tips for both drivers and cyclists for safe road usage will be posted.

Last year, there were 583 accidents and 19 deaths involving cyclists, down from 604 accidents and 22 fatalities in 2008. In 2007, there were 551 accidents and 22 deaths.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli pointed out in Parliament in January that cyclists were found to be at fault in more than half of accidents involving bicycles.

The number, while decreasing, is still alarming and The Straits Times understands that a committee is also in discussion to launch a national safe cycling campaign later this year.

Safe Cycling Taskforce president Steven Lim is looking to increase the number of road signs that warn motorists of cyclists' presence in housing and industrial estates. Currently, there are at least 119 'Cyclists Ahead' signs in Singapore.

He also suggested that signs be painted on the roads to increase prominence.

Cycling groups interviewed said that to keep safe, they make it mandatory for members to have lights on their bikes and to wear helmets. Most also brief members on routes, highlighting roadworks and danger zones, before setting off.

'Those who come without helmets are told to go home,' said Ms Joyce Leong, founder of cycling club Joyriders. 'Safety is a priority.'

Calls for Singapore to have a dedicated bike lane are again being heard, especially after Tampines became the island's first cycling town, with footpaths widened to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.

In his research paper, The Status Of Bicycles In Singapore, Dr Paul Barter, assistant professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, cited narrow kerbside lanes and high traffic speeds as dangers to cyclists and suggested that road designs be revised to take into account cyclists.

But the Land Transport Authority had previously said that having dedicated bicycle lanes was not feasible, given Singapore's land constraint.

Mr Lim believes motorists and cyclists need to change their attitudes: 'If both groups take their safety seriously and have some patience, they can share the roads safely.'

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