"Cyclist's friend writes to minister: My friend is dead," by Koh Hui Theng. The New Paper, 22 Aug 2012.
SINGAPORE - Shaken by his friend's death, Mr Stephen Choy wrote an open letter to Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew on Saturday.
"My friend is dead," he said.
"If only I had written this letter earlier, Freddy might still be able to cycle with me in the next Ironman race.
"You see, he died pursuing his hobby."
On Saturday morning, bank employee Freddy Khoo, 48, was cycling with two friends along Loyang Avenue when a lorry collided with them.
A police spokesman said Mr Khoo was the last among the trio to be hit. His buddies suffered abrasions and did not require hospitalisation.
But Mr Khoo had severe injuries and was sent to Changi General Hospital, where he later died.
He leaves behind his pregnant wife Tiffany and a six-year-old son.
An avid triathlete, MrKhoo had taken part in several half-Ironman races. He is a member of different cycling groups including Team Cychos.
On weekends, he would usually start cycling around 6.30am or 7am, Mr Choy, his friend and fellow Team Cychos member, told The New Paper.
Mr Choy, who works in advertising, had passed the accident spot that very morning - he had been in a car heading to Changi Village for breakfast.
"I whipped out my iPad when I saw the wreckage and posted a message on (social network) Facebook to remind all my friends to cycle safe. Within minutes, I received the tragic news, Fred was down," he added.
"The wreckage was that of my friend's."
Speaking to TNP before he attended the wake last night, Mr Choy, 47, recalled: "Looking at the wreckage, at how small the bike had been crushed to... for it to be crushed to that condition, I knew he had been run over.
"Fred did not stand a chance. I heard he was hit from the back."
That was why Mr Choy was moved to pen the letter, which he also sent to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and to his MPs in East Coast GRC.
In it, he implored the authorities to do something to make the roads safer.
"From 2008 to 2011, there were a total of 70 cyclists killed. That is a horrifying average of 1.46 cyclists killed a month," he wrote in his letter.
"Sadly, that is not enough to spur your ministry into action to make the roads safer for cyclists." While both cyclists and motorists have a part to play in making the roads safer, Mr Choy said that government assistance was also needed to help reduce fatalities.
He cited the debate about introducing cycling lanes and quoted a Land Transport Authority spokesman as saying this would give cyclists a false sense of security. (It was Mr Lui who said this in reply to a question in Parliament in March.)
"I was flabbergasted by this flippant and dismissive response... If NParks is able to build 300km of park connectors, surely the LTA is capable of painting a 1.5m lane on our roads...
"Are cyclists not worth that?" he asked. "Surely Freddy and the deaths of 70 other cyclists deserve an urgent re-look at how to make our roads safer."
Mr Choy suggested a pilot scheme to paint only the more popular (and dangerous) cycling routes - Neo Tew Avenue, Mandai Road, Changi Coastal Road, Upper Thompson Road, West Coast Highway.
But he admitted that he does not think anything will come of his action.
"I'm not the first to write this... Hopefully, enough people will circulate it and it'll be enough for them (the authorities) to act."
When TNP visited Mr Khoo's wake, his wife declined to speak to the media. Dressed in white, she cried as she spoke to those who came to pay their respects.
Several men wearing white sat silently at the back of the void deck, staring into space.
A bespectacled man seemed surprised when told about Mr Choy's open letter.
He said: "The authorities should do something about this and improve road safety."
Upon hearing the conversation, another man walked up to talk about the lorry driver, who has been arrested and is helping the police in their investigations.
Mr Choy, who has known Mr Khoo since 2009, usually cycles in the Changi-Loyang area at 5am. He said Mr Khoo preferred to start later, at around 7am.
But that was when traffic would get heavier in the area, with "a lot of trucks zooming towards the cargo complex".
Adding that Mr Khoo had been training for a triathlon, Mr Choy said: "I've raced with Fred twice in Aviva events. It's sad that I won't get the chance to do so any more."