Tampines GRC MPs (from left) Masagos Zulkifli, Ong Kian Min, Sin Boon Ann, Mah Bow Tan, Irene Ng and North East district mayor Teo Ser Luck waving to say 'thank you' during the launch of the Tampines Safe Cycling Clinic yesterday morning. The two-hour clinics, conducted by volunteer cycling wardens, will teach cyclists traffic rules and cycling etiquette. -- ST Photo: Ashleigh Sim
"FROM March 1 next year, footways in Tampines will be shared by pedestrians and cyclists alike as it becomes Singapore's first cycling town.
A two-year trial to see if this could be safely done has been successful, the Tampines MPs said yesterday.
The Members of Parliament said the trial found that very few cyclists rode recklessly, and a majority of residents - 53 per cent in 2007 and 65 per cent this year - supported the sharing of walkways.
The Group Representation Constituency (GRC) has been working with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Traffic Police since May 2007 to assess the feasibility of making Tampines a model cycling town, said MP Masagos Zulkifli.
'Cycling is an environmentally friendly and healthy mode of transport and Tampines, being a compact town, is an ideal choice,' he noted.
With Tampines MRT station as a focal point, the farthest block is only 2km away. He said: 'With facilities, schools and shops in close proximity, more and more residents are choosing bicycles as their preferred mode of transport to travel about in Tampines.'
The trial was sparked by a 2005 parliamentary debate in which Tampines GRC MP Irene Ng called for cyclists to be allowed to ride on footways, in the light of an increasing number of them having been involved in fatal accidents on busy roads.
But the decision was conditional on three key features - infrastructure, education and enforcement - being implemented together, said Mr Masagos.
The GRC began widening footways to accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists. The town council also constructed two new stretches of bicycle paths, and the LTA will be building 6.9km of bicycle paths in the first half of next year.
Yesterday also marked the launch of the Tampines Safe Cycling Clinics, funded by the North East Community Development Council. The two-hour clinics, conducted by volunteer cycling wardens, will teach cyclists traffic rules and cycling etiquette.
The clinics are an initiative of North East district mayor Teo Ser Luck, who set up the Safe Cycling Task Force for the Tampines project. He lost a friend, Mr Sylvester Ang, to a cycling accident in 2004. 'His wife said to me, don't let his death go to waste,' he recalled.
As a further check, Mr Masagos said the by-laws would be amended to allow the Tampines Town Council to hand out fines of between $50 and $1,000 to errant cyclists. Reckless cyclists can also be taken to court and fined up to $5,000.
The by-laws will ensure that errant cyclists do not ruin the system for the majority of safe cyclists, said Minister for National Development and Tampines MP Mah Bow Tan.
Residents hope this will be the case.
'Footpaths are where you would feel safe from cars, but if you add cyclists to the paths, you have to always be alert,' said student Penelope Teo, 22.
But Mr Mah is confident that conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians will be minimised in time. 'The message we want to give cyclists is that the pedestrians have the right of way. If you want to behave like a motorist, go on the road,' he said."
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To read more, see the older articles here about Tampines - link and the ST Discussion Forum - link.