"Cyclists take to footpaths," By Grace Chiang. TODAY, 15 May 2007.
CYCLISTS TAKE TO FOOTPATHS
Tampines trial to assess safety of bikers and pedestrians
IT IS a common dilemma for cyclists: Do they cycle legally on the roads, where they risk being knocked down by motor vehicles, or cycle illegally on pedestrian paths?
Soon, a small group of them living in Tampines may not have to worry - as the authorities are reviewing legislation after cycling on footpaths has been banned for more than 20 years.
With cycling increasingly popular in the heartlands, the Land Transport Authority, Traffic Police and Tampines grassroots organisations will be conducting a study to assess the feasibility of allowing two-wheelers on footpaths.
For a year from May 27, cyclists in the town will be exempted from Rule 28 of the Road Traffic Rules.
Tampines was picked because of its large cycling population and well-used park connectors. From her door-to-door visits, Tampines GRC Member of Parliament Irene Ng noted that at least three in 10 homes have bicycles.
The study will help the tripartite committee to understand "if Singaporeans are generally ready to share the footways". The town will have the option of making the arrangement permanent if the trial is successful, said Mr Ng Guat Tin, the Traffic Police deputy assistant commissioner.
This programme may be one way to curb the increase in the number of accidents involving cyclists on the roads. There were 507 cases last year compared to 376 in 2005.
Despite the ban, in practice, the Traffic Police does not penalise those who cycle on footpaths unless they are reckless, which is why many cyclists think the law should be scrapped. Twenty-one cyclists were issued summonses for cycling along footways last year, up from 19 in 2005, and 10 in 2004.
Said the president of Singapore Amateur Cycling Association Victor Yew: "We don't want to feel afraid that we may be doing something illegal when we ride on the pavement."
Housewife Linda Chan, 36, who cycles to her son's kindergarten every day, uses the designated cycling paths whenever possible, but said it is "so much more convenient to ride on the pavements". "I cycled on the roads until a few years ago - when I almost lost control of my bicycle because of a speeding car," she said.
But others feel lifting the ban may result in more danger for elderly pedestrians. Tampines resident Zhang Fa, 62, said: "Young cyclists who ride very fast have almost knocked me down more than once. I think this will just make it worse."
An independent consultant has been appointed to evaluate the study. More than 80 cycling wardens will be deployed in Tampines to encourage safe cycling and reward gracious behaviour.