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.


Anonymous said...

who's going to publish "inattentive pedestrians on cyclist paths pose a safety threat"?

i lost count a long time ago of the number of pedestrians who completely ignore bells, horns, and outright yelling, confidently walking straight at an oncoming cyclist while talking into their handphones. while i'm sure mdm. yeo isn't among them, some walkers have only themselves to blame when hit by bicycles.

wari said...

@Anonymous, most cycle paths on neighbourhood areas are on the inside, rather shady part of the paths, which IMO are wrongly designed. Pedestrians would definitely walk there, whether or not the path is painted with bike signs everywhere.

Me, I bike on the roads as the bike paths does not seem friendly at all for bikers.

Anyway, there's no way to solve this problems as I see more riders on pedestrian walkways riding fast and ringing bells not as to warn, but as a right to overtake 'signal'. One can dismount, or just pedal slowly, until the pedestrian moves to the side, but no, these people have no patience, or the necessary skill to do so safely, so the only option is to go fast.

>> some walkers have only themselves to blame when hit by bicycles.

If you are on a bike, on the road, you have to avoid a rock, moving a bit toward the right side of the road. If a car is unaware of you, and hit you, the car is to blame for not providing a wide clearance for the bicycle.

The same applies to bikers with pedestrians. Pedestrians are not in the wrong, the biker did not provide enough clearance, or did not slow down or be cautious of the pedestrians' actions.

Sivasothi said...

Dear Anonymous, sure we'd be glad to hear about inconsiderate pedestrians and you are welcome to write to the papers too. You will have to sign off with your name this time!

It is good to highlight the fact that there are issues about inconsiderate cyclists in this blog, so that we don't degenerate into an "us" versus "them" mentality.

Sivasothi said...

Dear Wari, some bike paths are working our really well; I loved the Western PCN, admittedly only during a weekend. In congested areas I switch to roads too.

I agree that manoeuvering around pedestrians requires skill. As a result poorly-skilled cyclists rater rings their bells and charge through. On a pedestrian path, I don't give way if they are aggressive.

wari said...

@Sivasothi: I think PCNs are great, what I'm talking about are those cycling paths made around the housing estates, possibly planned by people who do not ride bikes or are not pedestrians themselves.

As for PCNs, although they are great source of shared pathways for people in general, I am hoping for cycling highways. You know, I want to get from Woodlands to Tampines or Changi fast, or Woodlands to Jurong without facing traffic with heavy vehicles, as well as pedestrians who will see little incentive to walk thru such a highway unless to have a path to train for their marathon or a very long walk. If such highways to pass thru PCNs, I'm all for it, as long as we have good safe access throughout all corners of Singapore.

I can dream right? ;)

Back2Nature said...

I have some doubts in this saying: "it will be the pedestrian who will suffer the greater injury"

As a cyclist, I perceive I am more vulnerable as I will be falling from a greater heights.

Those who read my blog know I don't quickly give way to cyclists, once they ring bell on a pedestrian path. Be it warn or alert, they have no right! I will merely walk as per normal slowly to one side if I was not already on one side of the path.

Also, if both options will result in injuries, may be be prepared and defensively let the cyclist knock might be good. You will probably not be at fault. Your injuries, if any, is clearly the cyclist responsibility. The cyclist will likely learn a good lesson. A less desirable outcome could be that the cyclist may have serious injuries.

As for "cyclist dismounting and pushing his bike where there is heavy pedestrian traffic", I find it better to stay on the bike and either push using leg or ride at walking speed. If it is heavy pedestrian traffic, a rider pushing a bike take up more space and higher chance for contact between bike and other pedestrians.

Anonymous said...

Pedestrian walkways are made for pedestrians. We are entitled to let our young children wonder on walkways that are safe from the threat of cyclists. If you want to cycle, stay on the road and take the risks of being knocked down. The pedestrians is the king of pedestrian walkways and it must remain so.

Anonymous said...

what is a bicycle for if you have to dismount every 5 minutes? :\

Anonymous said...

"If you want to cycle, stay on the road and take the risks of being knocked down. The pedestrians is the king of pedestrian walkways and it must remain so."

What kind of #$%* wit says this? Do you feel you somehow "own" this? We like cycling and deserve to die???!

I really despise the people who think "I pay road tax so I get to use the road" or that "I am a pedestrian so I am the king of the walkway". Utter self-serving and short-sighted BS. I pay taxes too.

Isn't the key for every road user to try and be considerate to other users? I think everyone can co-exist if one exercises patience.

When I cycle on a walkway, I will slow down (or if really narrow, stop) to let pedestrains pass, but the pedestrian must also take care not take up the entire lane.
I had a skrimish with a predestrian just two days ago - he was on the phone, cut across the lane (park connector). I had to take emergency evasive measures as I was not sure sure which way he is going, and nearly caused an accident becuase there where many other people. If only he would stop talking the phone, indicate to me where he was going this could have been avoided.

So let's all try and live together, we all have a right to do what we want as long as it does not preclude others from doing what they want.

youlahthan said...

Came across this page today. Interesting to see both camps commenting and complaining.

Have any from these two camps realised that cyclists and pedestrians have increased, and most likely than not, many rackless cyclist are from PRC?

I am not raising temperatures here, but as a pedestrians, I came across one too many of these foreigners cyclist who are extremely reckless, which I do not think is because of their nationality, but most likely due to the fact that that's how they cycle in their home country. They cycle with one hand holding umbrella, or talking on the phone, or cycle abreast along a narrow walkways.

As a cyclist, I notice that lots of pedestrians do not care walking on bicycle designated pathways (PCN along Teban) and using handyphone at the same time. They walked in the middle of a wide lane, whether or not you sound your bell. For me, whenever I see pedestrians walking a distance in front of my pathway, I purposely rode across drain covers which creates one hell of natural clanking noise, so to signal my approach, before I slow to ring my bell. This provided I dont fall into a damage drain cover.