Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Errant cyclists will affect tolerance for riding on pavements

Note: Cycling on pavements is technically illegal. Yet there is tolerance for this generally amongst pedestrians. But bad behaviour put pedestrians at risk and and lower tolerance. Two letters appear this week in the online forum of The Straits Times.

"If road bullies are hauled to court, errant cyclists shouldn't be let off hook." By Marcus Tun. ST Forum (Online Letters) [The Straits Times], 24 Jan 2006.

I write this with reference to the letter 'Take action against cyclists on pavements before accidents happen' (ST Online Forum Jan 20) by Mr Teoh Beng San.

Working in Tampines, where cyclists riding on pedestrian walkways is not an exception, I truly empathise with his situation. Not only do they infest the walkways, frequently there will be those who insist it is their divine right to speed and make sharp turns around the corners of the many office buildings and malls there.

It does not require a genius to know that such corners are blind spots. Yet I have encountered more than a few such instances. Once a colleague of mine just missed being knocked over by a cyclist who appeared around a corner like an aspiring Valentino Rossi.

Not only was he unapologetic, he glared at her before proceeding merrily along his way.

This topic has been revisited ad nauseum. But it was the behavior of the cyclist cited in Mr Teoh's letter that prompted me to come out with this. To think that the errant cyclist had the gall and audacity to be aggressive sickens and infuriates me.

Will he have dared to do this to someone half Mr Teoh's age and may be in a much better physical shape? Not likely.

We see how road bullies are hauled to courts and slapped with fines and jail terms for their callous actions. This cyclist and others like him should not be treated differently.

Hit them hard where it hurts, be it the pocket or something else. I understand the need and clamour for cyclists to have their share of road space but pedestrian walkways and corridors are just not theirs.

Take action against cyclists on pavements before accidents happen." By Teoh Beng San. ST Forum (Online Letters) [The Straits Times], 20 Jan 2006.
I am writing to you because I've had enough of irresponsible, inconsiderate cyclists who turn the pavement for pedestrians into a bicycle lane.

On January 13 evening, I was walking along the pavement at Simei Street 3 on my way to Simei MRT Station. A male Chinese on a bicycle with a woman as pillion-rider passed me from the rear.

After he overtook me, he said in Hokkien 'Ah Pek did not hear the bell'. Sensing that he was annoyed with me for not giving way, I remarked in English that he should not be cycling on the pavement.

I was unable to hear him ringing his bicycle bell as I am 76-years-old and hard of hearing. When he heard my remark, he stopped and confronted me.

He asked me in a threatening manner if I was capable of walking on the road. To my affirmative reply, he arrogantly told me he too can cycle on the pavement.

I tried to make him realise that it was an offence to cycle on a pedestrian pavement but he turned aggressive. It was my good fortune that my daughter-in-law, who was waiting at the roadside, intervened and calmed him down.

I dread to think what could have happened to me if not for the timely intervention of my daughter-in-law.

What is the police doing? What action is being taken against such errant and irresponsible cyclists who are breaking the law and making a mockery of it?

About a year ago, the then Commander of Traffic Police wrote me a letter (and I am sure to other motorists as well) about ensuring 'road safety of more vulnerable road users like motorcyclists, pedestrians and cyclists'.

I would like to ask the police: Now that irresponsible and errant cyclists pose a serious danger to pedestrians by converting the pedestrian walkway into a bicycle lane, who is more vulnerable, the cyclist or the pedestrian?
I suggested in my reply to the then Commander to have a campaign to educate cyclists that they cannot flout the law and pose a danger to pedestrians.

I got a reply saying they will work on my feedback. Alas the situation is worse now. Perhaps only when a pedestrian, especially a child, gets seriously injured or dies because of an errant cyclist will the police take strong action against them.

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"2 cyclists hurt after being hit by car."

"2 cyclists hurt after being hit by car." By Khuswant Singh. The Straits Times, 17 Jan 2006.

CYCLIST Yew Li Lin is a stickler for safety. So, as usual, she donned bright clothes, switched on her bicycle lights and rode single file when she went cycling with friends on Sunday morning. But, despite these measures, Madam Yew and one of her riding companions were hit by a car on West Coast Highway around 6.30 am.

The 41-year-old homemaker suffered two broken ribs and a hairline pelvic fracture. The other victim, Dr David Lau, 40, took a direct hit but somehow escaped with only cuts on his legs.

Speaking to The Straits Times from her bed in National University Hospital yesterday, Madam Yew said: 'All four of us were dressed in bright cycling outfits to ensure that we could be seen.' She and her three companions were riding single file in the extreme left lane in front of the Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre, when a car travelling on the other side of the road suddenly turned right to enter a side road the four cyclists were passing.

'I was third in line, about 1 1/2 bicycle lengths behind David, who bore the brunt of the collision,' Madam Yew said. 'David was thrown up and landed on the bonnet of the car, smashing the windscreen. 'I tried to swerve but hit the car with my right side of the body and fell awkwardly.'

Miraculously, Dr Lau suffered only cuts on his legs and was discharged late Sunday morning. His riding helmet was wrecked though. 'There is a big gash on it and I think the helmet saved me from severe head injuries,' he said.

An exasperated Madam Yew appealed to motorists: 'We can take all sorts of safety measures but we need the cooperation of motorists because in an accident we are usually worst off.' Madam Yew, who took up cycling a year ago and always made it a point to adopt all the safety measures, said safety for cyclists should be improved and motorists should be educated on the vulnerability of cyclists.

Police said investigations were continuing.

Latest figures available revealed that 17 cyclists died in accidents in 2003 and 2004. Just a fortnight ago, on Jan 4, a 71-year-old cyclist died of head injuries after he was hit by a car on Upper East Coast Road.

And cycling enthusiast Sylvester Ang, a keen advocate of greater road safety for cyclists, was himself an accident victim. The 37-year-old store designer died of severe injuries after he was hit by a bus, pinned under and dragged for about 7m while cycling along Lim Chu Kang Road on Dec 19, 2004.

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