Thursday, February 25, 2010

Inconsiderate cyclists on pedestrian paths pose a safety threat

"Don't compromise safety," letter from Max Yeo. Today Online, 23 Feb 2010.

RECENTLY, my wife tripped and rolled down a grass path along Block 647 Yishun St 61 because of an uncovered drain. This happened because she was trying to avoid some cyclists. She now has a bruised swollen knee and elbow. She had only a few choices left to her at that time.

She could either have stayed on the path and been knocked down by the cyclists, step into the uncovered drain and possibly break her leg, or hop across the drain onto the grass patch beyond it.

She took the third option and that was how she slipped and fell.

I had reported the uncovered, 76-cm deep drain to the relevant authorities last year but nothing much was done except that a yellow line was drawn along it. The Sembawang Town Council also wrote back to tell me that the "apron drain slabs" had been removed some years ago upon instructions from the National Environment Agency to prevent mosquitoes breeding.

It said the apron drains in the estate are covered only at footpath crossings and areas with many children, for example near the child care centre and kindergarten.

I don't see why the drain can't be covered and regular maintenance done to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. How can residents' safety be compromised?

"Cyclists are more reckless now," letter from Charles Remedios. Today Online, 25 Feb 2010.

I REFER to "Don't compromise safety" (Feb 23). The accident suffered by Mr Max Yeo's wife is indeed unfortunate. The reason for the accident is the reckless behaviour by cyclists who use the pedestrian pathway.

Pathways are meant for pedestrians but many cyclists assume they have right of way and expect pedestrians to get out of their way; this happens not only on pathways but also at pedestrian crossings.

It is rare to see a cyclist dismounting and pushing his bike where there is heavy pedestrian traffic. More often then not, the cyclist will ring his bell and zoom past or head straight for pedestrians, forcing them to jump out of his way as Mr Teo's wife did, with unfortunate results.

Cyclists and pedestrians know that in any accident involving a pedestrian and a cyclist, it will be the pedestrian who will suffer the greater injury and this fear forces the latter to quickly get out of the way.

This defensive action has emboldened cyclists. With the increasing number of motorised bicycles using pedestrian pathways, the incidence and seriousness of accidents is now greater.

Education and persuasion have not had an impact on the behaviour of cyclists and the millions of dollars spent on surveys, campaigns, and even the creation of so called "shared pathways" seem to have been a waste. In fact, wider pathways could be encouraging cyclists to travel at even greater speeds.

The Police need to enforce the law and protect those most vulnerable.