Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Eight questions asked and answered in Parliament, 10 Sep 2012

Eight question were raised about cycling in the Singapore Parliament and was responded to on Monday, 10th September 2012. Ministry of Transport: MOT - In Parliament, 10-Sep-2012 Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim Replies to Parliamentary Questions on Road Safety and Cycling

Parliamentary Question 8, Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong: To ask the Minister for Transport (a) whether cycling is included in the Ministry's transport and infrastructure policy; (b) whether the Ministry has planned for the rising number of cyclists on the roads; and (c) whether a comprehensive and coordinated national strategy to promote cycling as a mode of transport will be introduced, including developing bike-friendly infrastructure and a regulatory framework for cycling.

Parliamentary Question 9, Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong: To ask the Minister for Transport whether the Ministry has conducted a systematic study on how other developed cities with busy roads have integrated cycling into the traffic system with a coordinated network of lanes, road signages, road markings and traffic signals and, if so, what practical lessons have been drawn that can be implemented in Singapore.

Parliamentary Question 10, Dr Janil Puthucheary: To ask the Minister for Transport (a) what measures does the Ministry intend to adopt to increase the safety of cyclists and reduce the risk of accidents on the roads; (b) whether the Ministry foresees a greater proportion of Singaporeans utilising cycling primarily as a means of transport; and (c) if so, how does the Ministry intend to plan for this shift in behaviour.

Parliamentary Question 11, Mr Yee Jenn Jong: To ask the Minister for Transport (a) what is the outcome of the $43 million pilot programme undertaken by the Ministry since 2009 to design and construct dedicated cycling paths in the five selected HDB towns of Tampines, Pasir Ris, Taman Jurong, Sembawang and Yishun; (b) whether there will be a detailed public report on the outcome of the programme; (c) what are the lessons learnt that can be applied to having similar cycling paths or cycling lanes in the rest of Singapore; and (d) what other lessons have the Cycling Facilitation Committee learnt that may be applied to improving safety for both cyclists and other road users.

Parliamentary Question 12, Mr Nicholas Fang: To ask the Minister for Transport given the current regulations requiring motorists to undergo training and testing before being licensed to go on the road, whether it is possible to (i) put in place a similar requirement for all cyclists to undergo training and education on safe road use before being allowed to take to the roads; and (ii) increase information for motorists on how to drive safely in relation to cyclists in order to reduce the number of accidents involving cyclists on Singapore roads.

Parliamentary Question 13, Ms Janice Koh: To ask the Minister for Transport (a) what is the number of reported traffic accidents between pedal cyclists and motorists each year since 2008; (b) how many such fatalities have resulted each year since 2008; (c) what are the main causes of such accidents; and (d) whether there is a need to re-consider calls for bicycle-lane markings or dedicated cycling lanes on our roads to better protect our pedal cyclists.

Parliamentary Question 14, Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong: To ask the Minister for Transport given the increasing number of cyclists on the roads (a) what are the Ministry's plans for improving road safety for cyclists; (b) whether a campaign will be mounted to change the attitudes of motorists towards cyclists and to condition motorists to look out for them; and (c) whether the Ministry will review the penalty framework for driving offences that cause death to pedestrians and cyclists.

Parliamentary Question 15, Dr Lim Wee Kiak: To ask the Minister for Transport in view of the recent spate of traffic accidents including fatalities involving cyclists and motorists on Singapore roads (a) what measures have been taken in the last five years; and (b) what additional measures are in the pipeline to curb such injuries and loss of lives.

Parliamentary Question 16, Dr Janil Puthucheary: To ask the Minister for Transport (a) how many cyclists were killed in the last five years as a result of traffic accidents; (b) of these accidents, in how many cases were the cyclists deemed to be at fault; (c) whether the Traffic Police will consider publishing a list of cycling accident blackspots; (d) how does the usual punishment for a driver causing the death of a cyclist compare with other criminal offences where a death was unintentionally caused; and (e) whether the Ministry will consider reviewing the $20 composition fine on errant cyclists who are found to have flouted rules.

Reply by Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim to Parliamentary Questions on Road Safety and Cycling

"Mr Speaker Sir, I thank Members for their questions on cycling."

Building a Network of Off-Road Cycling Paths

2. In recent years, recognising its increasing popularity, my Ministry has taken active steps to facilitate cycling as a mode of transport, starting with a $43 million pilot programme in 2009 to construct dedicated cycling paths in 5 selected HDB towns - Tampines, Pasir Ris, Taman Jurong, Sembawang and Yishun. We have since expanded it to 7 towns with Bedok and Changi-Simei coming on board. Now, under our National Cycling Plan and with the support of our partner agencies, we will also be rolling out basic cycling infrastructure in all new developments - in the Marina Bay area, new housing estates, as well as during major estate upgrading programmes under the Remaking our Heartland (ROH) initiative by HDB.

3. These plans take time to roll out but already, we have provided 6.4 km of dedicated cycling paths in the first 5 cycling towns. By 2014, this will increase to well over 50 km in our HDB towns. In addition, LTA has recently provided 1.5 km of cycling paths along the perimeter roads of the new Gardens by the Bay, and the plan is to provide up to 16 km of cycling paths in the Marina Bay downtown area as the area develops.

4. These cycling paths that we are building are dedicated off-road paths, allowing us to segregate cyclists from on-road vehicles, as well as separating pedestrians from cyclists. We are investing in such cycling paths as they are safer for cyclists of all proficiencies, cater to the most number of users, and are generally planned to cater to short intra-town cycling trips, for example to key amenities and transport nodes like MRT stations and bus interchanges.

5. We recognise that some cycling commuting trips are made between towns. For these less prevalent trips, we will look into linking up the intra-town cycling paths. Where appropriate, we will capitalise on the Park Connector Network, which will eventually allow us to achieve a larger, safe cycling network that can cater to longer-distance travel.

On-Road Cycling

6. There have also been calls for the Government to do more for on-road cycling. In Singapore, land is a scarce commodity and, I dare say, road space is even scarcer. Most of our roads today are optimally sized for traffic conditions, and adding a dedicated lane for non-motorised traffic would require additional land, or the narrowing of existing vehicle lanes, with attendant adverse traffic impact. Given our circumstances, we have therefore prioritised off-road cycling, which is safer and can cater to greater numbers of people.

I hope that Members and Singaporeans will understand that there will be these trade-offs, and that the Government is unable to accommodate all the wishes of all small communities, but must think of larger, overall needs. However, within reasonable limits, we can see if there are specific locations where we can do more for on-road cycling.

7. LTA has studied many cities that have attempted to integrate cycling as part of their traffic systems. Every city has a different approach, influenced by factors such as population density, quality of public transport, land availability, cycling culture, traffic speed, and so on. Some cities in China, Denmark and the Netherlands take a similar approach as us where cycling lanes are essentially separated and protected from vehicular traffic, while cities in the US and UK have implemented unprotected cycling lanes, which are regarded as being less safe. We will continue to study other cities’ approaches, and are prepared to pilot some of their ideas where feasible.

Accidents Involving Cyclists

8. Members expressed concerns about traffic accidents involving cyclists. The total number of reported fatal and injury accidents where cyclists are involved has declined by 17% between 2008 and 2011. Cyclists were found to be at least partly at fault for about half of these accidents. The number of cyclist fatalities averaged 18 per year over the same period from 2008 to 2011. Since the beginning of this year, there have been 11 cyclist fatalities.

Cyclists’ Education

9. Every fatality, cyclist or otherwise, is one too many, and I share Members’ sentiments that we should minimise them. All road users, be it cyclists, motorists or pedestrians, need to play their part in this. The common causes of accidents attributable to cyclists or other road users include “failing to keep a proper look-out”, “disobeying traffic light signals”, and “failing to give way to traffic with the right of way”. The Cycling Facilitation Committee (CFC), started by Mr Teo Ser Luck, recognised that public education is key in shaping cyclists’ behaviour. The CFC advocates a community-led approach to do so, and the volunteer cycling wardens that you see in some HDB towns is part of this approach.

10. Members asked if the Traffic Police should require cyclists to undergo training and education on safe road use before being allowed to take to the roads.

Since the profile of cyclists ranges from school children to senior citizens, from foreign workers to persons who pursue cycling as a sport, the Traffic Police’s approach is to engage cyclists within the different groups and impart relevant knowledge on safe road use to them through targeted platforms, rather than instituting a formal training and licensing regime.

Efforts have been stepped up to educate the community on safe cycling practices and road rules. In the first half of 2012, 150 sessions of road safety talks in schools, workers’ dormitories and at community-level events have been conducted, and 15 safe cycling exhibitions were held. At these events, “Safe Cycling Guides”, containing information on proper riding apparel, safe cycling and road sharing tips, are distributed to participants.

A recent collaboration between the Traffic Police and the Singapore Sports Council included the production of a 10-minute safe cycling video entitled “Gear Up! Safety begins with me”. LTA will also be producing an “Intra-Town Cycling” handbook as a reference for good cycling etiquette and to share safety tips. I am taking a personal interest in this area and will work with key stakeholders and relevant Government agencies to see if more can be done to improve safety.

Motorists’ Education

11. Motorists, during learner driver training, are taught various safety considerations towards cyclists on the roads. Drivers are taught to give ample room to cyclists, especially when passing them. Drivers are also taught not to make sharp turns at corners, and to slow down and give way to vulnerable road users, which include cyclists. It is a strict requirement for learner drivers to check their blind spots before making a lane change or a turn. This is to ensure that drivers are aware of any motorcyclists and pedal cyclists who might be riding alongside.

We have noted the suggestions raised by Members and are studying further education measures with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Traffic Police to inculcate a safe road sharing mindset amongst motorists and cyclists alike.

Regulatory Regime

12. On the enforcement front, the Traffic Police will continue to maintain ground presence to ensure that cyclists and motorists abide by traffic rules. Firm action will be taken against those who display dangerous road behaviour such as driving or riding without due regard to the safety of others. We also urge cyclists to recognise their own vulnerability in relation to motorised traffic.

13. Members asked about the penalties for errant motorists and cyclists. A driver who unintentionally causes the death of a person in a road traffic accident may be charged under the Penal Code or the Road Traffic Act depending on the circumstances of the case and the degree of culpability. A convicted driver will be punished with an imprisonment term of up to 5 years, or with a fine, or both. These persons will also be disqualified from driving for a period of time.

14. Similar considerations are applicable to other types of criminal offences where a death was unintentionally caused and where the person is also charged under the Penal Code. The Police periodically review its penalty framework for all offences, and will continue to monitor the situation carefully.

15. Cyclists who flout traffic rules will be issued summonses. Depending on the circumstances, a cyclist may be offered a composition amount of $20 for the offences. In the case where a person was hurt, the cyclist may be prosecuted in Court under the Penal Code for endangering the safety of others by rash riding, and they will face larger fines or even imprisonment. MHA and the Traffic Police are reviewing the cycling penalties to ensure that they are commensurate with the severity of the respective offences, and will announce the findings when their review is completed.


16. To sum up, we will continue to give priority to our efforts to develop off-road cycling paths to facilitate intra-town cycling. We will also review if we can do a little more on the infrastructure front to facilitate on-road cycling. Beyond infrastructure, it is also important for us to inculcate good cycling habits and responsible driving through public education supplemented by an effective regulatory regime. It is my hope that over time, we will be able to engender a good cycling and driving culture that allows for mutual understanding, basic courtesy and more importantly a safe environment for all road users.

17. In the coming months, I intend to meet more of the different stakeholders to better understand their viewpoints and to see whether we need to review the approach that we have taken and the provisions we have made to facilitate cycling in Singapore.

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