Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Response to Jude Alphonso Tan's death: Letters to the Straits Times Forum Page

"Do more to educate road users on safety"
Letter to The Straits Times, Forum Page by Benny Tan, published on 30 May 2012
"I READ with dismay about the death of a cyclist who was hit by a lorry along Changi Coast Road ('Cyclist killed, driver arrested'; Sunday). I later found out that he was an acquaintance from my student days.

Having both ridden and driven along the same stretch of road on numerous occasions, I can attest to the dangerous speeds of some vehicles, especially large trucks and prime movers, travelling on that road.

While safety measures such as road signs alerting drivers to the presence of cyclists have been introduced in recent years, much more can be done to prevent dangerous driving in the area.

For example, in addition to more stringent enforcement of speed limits, companies whose vehicles are known to utilise the road frequently can be directly targeted to remind their drivers to take extra precautions.

Generally, road users in Singapore need to be better educated. I am wont to believe that a straw poll would reveal that many drivers still believe it is illegal for cyclists to be on the road.

Drivers should also be educated about the proper driving behaviour to adopt around cyclists and motorcyclists. Many do not realise that travelling at high speeds next to cyclists causes them to be drawn towards the vehicles.

On the flipside, cyclists, regardless or whether they ride for sport or as a form of transport, should also be educated about safety precautions and proper cycling habits.

More can and should be done, and sooner rather than later. While nobody wants an accident to occur, there is more that we can do to prevent them. Liberties should not be taken when lives are at stake."

"All have part to play"
Letter to The Straits Times, Forum Page, by Steven Lim, President, Safe Cycling Task Force, published on 30 May 2012
"I AM saddened by the death of a cyclist who was hit by a lorry along Changi Coast Road last Saturday ('Cyclist killed, driver arrested'; Sunday).

Changi Coast Road is popular among cyclists, and there are many 'cyclists ahead' warning signs to warn motorists to look out for them.

Drivers need to recognise that cyclists have an equal right to use the road, and to keep a safe distance when overtaking them.

There have been suggestions online that cyclists should not be on the road because they do not pay road tax. But determining who gets to use public facilities does not hinge on how much tax one pays. After all, we also see road tax-paying motorcyclists being squeezed off the roads.

More important is sharing whatever limited resources we have on this tiny island, and looking out for one another.

We advise cyclists to:

  • Travel in a proper and safe manner;
  • Wear light-coloured clothing;
  • Have lights - white in front, and red at the back - on their bicycles;
  • Use hand signals to communicate with other road users; and
  • Be patient and courteous, as well as adopt safe practices.

We applaud Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean's call to get tough with errant motorists ('Get tough on speeding, reckless driving: DPM'; May 17).

It is time for the authorities to review some of the rules and penalties for law-breaking motorists. It is not just about catching errant drivers like speedsters, but also the penalties they face after being convicted.

Some of the penalties are too light, especially for those who cause deaths through their recklessness.

While no amount of fines and jail terms would bring back a life, the penalties must serve as a deterrent to other motorists.

While rules and penalties may maintain order, it is also important for road users to have the right mindset and attitude. They have to keep themselves and others safe on the roads. It is about being forgiving, friendly and gracious.

"Treat cyclists as equals on the road"
Letter to The Straits Times, Forum Page by Deborah Moore (Ms), published on 30 May 2012
"AS A fairly new resident of Singapore and a cyclist, I am disgusted at the callousness of many drivers here who are posting comments on various forums following the horrific death of a cyclist after he was hit by a lorry last Saturday ('Cyclist killed, driver arrested'; Sunday).

I rode that very same stretch of road in Changi just one and a half hours before the accident, so I read of the cyclist's death with a chill in my heart.

What bothers me most, however, is the widespread attitude of drivers here that cyclists do not belong on the road. They think they have more right than cyclists to be on the road because of the high road taxes they pay.

Some comments on the forums include 'why do cyclists have to take up a whole lane?'

Well, we try not to, but it is actually for our own safety. If we squeeze up against the kerb, most drivers will take that as permission to try to squeeze by us in that same lane.

If we ride farther out into the lane, we take up the same width as a car, and drivers are then forced to change lanes to go around us, ultimately making it safer for all.

One other forum user asked why we do not use the park connector networks or coastal pathways.

We avoid these because our speed is faster than that of the pedestrians, dog walkers, elderly people and children using these pathways, and we are mindful of their safety.

Admittedly, some cyclists are less than considerate in their riding formations, for example, travelling three abreast, and do not respect traffic laws, but the majority are just trying to stay healthy by exercising on their bikes."

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