Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Will LTA ... come up with a coordinated national plan?" (Parliament)

--- beg ---


Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong: "To ask the Minister for Transport given that cyclists are banned from riding on footways, except in Tampines, whether the Land Transport Authority will work with the Police and other relevant agencies to promote safety for cyclists on roads and come up with a coordinated national plan for improving the infrastructure and regulatory framework for cycling as a mode of transport. "

Response from Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Teo Ser Luck

  1. Mr Speaker Sir, the Land Transport Authority, together with other relevant agencies, has been working to creating a safer riding environment for cyclists.
  2. Given Singapore’s land constraints, our policy is to optimise our available road and pedestrian space, to meet the diverse needs of pedestrians, motorists, cyclists as well as other groups of commuters and road users. To do this, we have to balance the needs of the rising number of cyclists against that of other road users and pedestrians, while cyclists, drivers and pedestrians have to exercise mutual accommodation and due consideration for each other.
  3. One key aspect to promote safety of cyclists on roads is public education. Having recognised the vulnerability of cyclists on the roads, Traffic Police (TP) as well as several agencies, community and grassroot leaders and also the Safe Cycling Task Force have been conducting road safety talks and exhibitions in schools, workplaces and neighbourhoods to promote safe cycling habits. Also, based on the observation that many foreign workers had opted for cycling as a preferred mode of transport, Traffic Police has since been working closely with various foreign dormitories, corporate partners and organisations that employ a large number of foreign workers to promote safe cycling among their workers.
  4. With regards to infrastructure, LTA is currently working with community stakeholders and the Traffic Police to roll out a $43 million programme to design and construct dedicated cycling paths in 5 selected HDB Towns as part of a pilot scheme, namely Tampines, Pasir Ris, Taman Jurong, Sembawang and Yishun. These towns were selected as they had favourable local characteristics - a relatively compact geography, suitable infrastructure and land available for the cycling tracks, and also strong support for cycling. LTA is also working with the Safe Cycling Task Force (SCTF) to identify frequently used cycling routes outside of these 5 towns. Signs alerting motorists of the presence of cyclists have been installed along these routes and the signs have been found to be useful. LTA will continue to work with the SCTF to identify the need for similar signs at other locations.
  5. To better coordinate these plans, and to allow each community to learn from the experience of others, the Ministry of Transport set up a Cycling Facilitation Committee (CFC) in June 2009 for which I am the Chairman. The aim of the CFC is to establish a common, community-led approach to tackle the “soft” issues related to the implementation of dedicated cycling paths in these 5 towns, as well as best practices to facilitate cycling for intra-town trips. Currently, Grassroot leaders from these 5 towns are represented on the CFC. Other relevant governmental and non-governmental agencies such as LTA, NParks, HDB, Police and Safe Cycling Task Force are also represented. The committee is working to establish a common code of practice for safe cycling, public education efforts and enforcement against reckless cycling behaviour in towns that want to facilitate cycling. We should see the efforts in these 5 cycling towns as piloting new ideas and approaches from which we can gain useful experience and lessons for possible wider implementation as we evolve our plans to facilitate cycling.
  6. The safety of all road users, whether they are drivers, cyclists or pedestrians, is a shared responsibility. All road users will have to play their part by following the traffic rules and regulations, and exercise mutual accommodation and due consideration for each other."

Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong:
"Sir, can I urge the Senior Parliamentary Secretary not to look at the five demonstration cycling towns as models for the rest of the island but rather to look at the congested cities in the world, such as Paris, London, Geneva, Chicago, Edinburgh, who have managed to incorporate cycling into their urban transport systems with bike lanes on roads, with clear signs that indicate that cyclists have a right to be on the roads? Sir, I feel that the emphasis on Tampines or the other towns in Singapore is a red herring and might lead us in the wrong direction because what we need is a clear national policy.

On the other question of education, can I ask the Senior Parliamentary Secretary if he could work with the Traffic Police to ensure that the message is also targeted at motorists and not only at cyclists? For safe cycling to take place on roads, we need motorists to look out for them and are conditioned to look out for them."

Mr Teo Ser Luck:
"Sir, we have also studied the cities that the Member has mentioned, whether it is Paris or London. On trips that MOT have made, we have looked at the different road infrastructure and how they facilitate cycling. The cities face similar situations and they also have made their own trade-offs. To accommodate dedicated cycling tracks or lanes on the road, you would have to give up a certain space for other motorists and other usage.

We will continue to look at other possible ways – whether to put up more effective signs or whether to locate the space for cycling on the road or on a track. Although conditions could be different from city to city, we will look at what can be customised for Singapore's environment.

At this point in time, we do not just look at the five cycling towns and experiment with these. What we try to do with the five cycling towns is to look at the "soft" issues, which are education and the clinics that we are conducting across the different towns as well as certain codes of practice that the community leaders can provide us with.

So we take a multi-pronged approach – we will look at not just the infrastructure in the different cities that the Member has mentioned but also the education programmes and how we actually enforce it. In Tampines, for example, with the bye-laws, they were able to enforce it at a reasonable level on the ground through the Town Councils. We have to look at whether that model of operations can actually be implemented in the other areas. It is the same for education, and infrastructure, in terms of building dedicated tracks.

As far as education for motorists is concerned, I agree with the Member that it is not just focused on our cyclists and making sure that they behave but also whether the motorists can accommodate and co-exist with cyclists. I think for this, we will work with the Traffic Police and look at the other different ways that we can educate the public – whether to have more safety awareness campaigns to alert the motorists about cyclists on the road. We will do the best we can in terms of putting up signs."

--- end ---

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tampines' derelict bicycle removal programme (Today Online)

"Cycling Town's scourge." Today Online, 26 Apr 2010.

SINGAPORE - Ever since it began its journey to become Singapore's first official "cycling town", pedestrian safety has not been the only issue Tampines has needed to tackle; abandoned bicycles have been another. Now, the town council has found a way to fix the problem, through a derelict bicycle removal programme.

From about 1,560 derelict bicycles found during a survey in July and August of 2008, the number fell by more than 70 per cent to 432 in January. The improvement came after a quarterly removal exercise, involving town council staff and residents' committee members, was mooted.

Bicycles found in bad condition, such as those with rusty or missing parts, are tagged with a removal notice and taken away when the notice expires or during the quarterly exercise.

In the first exercise, conducted on Jan 11 last year, staff and volunteers combed 68 blocks in Tampines. A total of 189 derelict bicycles were later removed. To date, a total of 454 blocks have been covered and a total of 1,063 bicycles removed.

The town council is continuing with the initiative as well as its outreach to residents through newsletters, brochures and banners on proper parking and care of bicycles.

Friday, April 09, 2010

"Let's Share our Roads" - Togoparts Cyclist Safety & Awareness campaign

Togoparts - share our roads

Togoparts announced in the March newsletter that they are "launching a Cyclist Safety Awareness campaign aimed at educating the driving public in response to recent accidents involving cars and cyclists.

To promote this message, Togoparts will be giving out the first 500 'Share the Road' decals for free to anyone who is willing to put the decals up on their vehicles."

A second collection for members today at West Coast Mc's has been opened and members (just sign up) can request for decals - link.

"LTA rejects call to register bikes" (THe Straits Times)

"LTA rejects call to register bikes," by Irene Tham. The Straits Times, 04 Apr 2010.
Bring back compulsory bicycle registration. The suggestion came recently from several online writers to the ST Forum, The New Paper and ST Interactive.

They said that when hit-and-run accidents occur, the police would then have better leads to nab the errant cyclists.

Mr Ace Kindred Cheong, who wrote to The New Paper, said: 'If any offences or crimes are committed by cyclists - such as hit-and-run accidents and thefts - the public will be able to provide the licence plate details and the perpetrators can be caught and punished.

'I am sure many pedestrians in Singapore do not want to share the pavements with cyclists. This is because of the risk of reckless cyclists who may accidentally knock into babies in prams, young children and the elderly.'

Another writer, Mr Allan Zheng, said: 'Allowing bicycles without number plates on roads - and footpaths - just makes it that much easier for cyclists to get away scot-free when they have knocked someone down.'

When contacted by The Sunday Times, a Land Transport Authority (LTA) spokesman said: 'Having exempted bicycles from registration requirements in Singapore since 1982, its re-introduction will not only be viewed as regressive but will also unnecessarily subject bicycle owners to onerous requirements.'

Citing difficulties in enforcing bicycle registration, she added that LTA's move to do away with mandatory bicycle registration is consistent with the practice in many developed countries.

They include Britain, the United States, European Union nations, Australia and New Zealand.

'Licensing is therefore neither practical nor cost-effective,' she said.

Irene Tham

"Get cyclists off the footpaths: Pedestrians" (The Straits Times)

"Get cyclists off the footpaths: Pedestrians," by Irene Tham. The Straits Times, 04 Apr 2010.Many want recourse against riders who ignore rules and throw caution to the wind.

Get cyclists off the footpaths: Pedestrians

Mr Kelvin Khoo, 38, has stopped taking evening walks with his wife around his estate near Bedok North.

He is wary of cyclists who pedal illegally on footpaths. 'They come at such high speeds,' said the personal wealth manager.

On several occasions, they nearly hit the couple.

Mr Khoo also stopped taking his three children, aged four, six and nine, to the East Coast Park. They have had so many near misses, he said.

His fears may be justified. The number of accidents involving pedestrians was 1,075 last year, or about three a day.

The police did not break down the causes of these accidents - whether by car, motorcycle or bicycle.

'Why do I have to walk fearing that a bike may hit me or my children?' asked Mr Khoo. His frustrations are shared by many.

After Tampines became Singapore's first cycling town on March1, dozens of readers vented their anger on The Straits Times' online discussion board, complaining about cyclists ignoring traffic rules.

Several writers to The Straits Times and The New Paper forum pages voiced unhappiness over sharing pavements with cyclists.

Many wanted the authorities to clarify the recourse for a pedestrian should he be hit by a cyclist on a walkway.

Wrote Mr Allan Zheng, whose forum letter to The New Paper was published on March 19: 'Say I manage to catch a cyclist who knocks me down on the footpath. When I hand the cyclist over to the police, can any action be taken?

'Won't I just be told to get a magistrate's order, as I believe being knocked down by a cyclist is a non-seizable offence?'

<Get cyclists off the footpaths_ Pedestrians

In Singapore, cycling on the footways of roads is an offence, except in Tampines town. If convicted in court, first-time offenders may be fined up to $1,000 or jailed up to three months. Repeat offenders may get a fine of $2,000 or a jail sentence of up to six months.

Cyclists may also be punished under the Penal Code for riding in public places in a rash or negligent manner.

If convicted, the offender faces a jail term of up to one year, or a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

However, the injured pedestrian has to first make a police report. 'The police will investigate. Depending on the outcome, we will take the appropriate action,' said a police spokesman.

The police may take up the case for the victim, but they do not automatically prosecute errant cyclists, lawyers told The Sunday Times.

The victim can make a civil claim or a magistrate's complaint for a private summons to prosecute the cyclist.

'But the burden of proof of a cyclist's negligence lies with the victim,' said Mr Patrick Yeo, litigation partner of the Insurance Practice Group at law firm KhattarWong.

'The victim usually needs a lawyer as he may not have enough legal knowledge or expertise to properly conduct and succeed in his civil claim in court.'

Depending on the amount of damages the victim is seeking, he may not be able to justify the legal fees, he added.

'For instance, if you sue a poor, uninsured cyclist, you may get only a paper judgment as the cyclist would not be able to satisfy or pay the judgment.'

Cyclists are not required by law to be compulsorily insured for third-party liability.

Last year, more than 1,500 summonses were issued by the police to cyclists for violating traffic rules.

Of these, about 700 were for illegal riding along the footways of roads - a six-fold increase from 115 in 2008.

Even Tampines is not immune to such reckless habits.

A resident, who wanted to be known only as Madam Lim, said she was almost knocked down on several occasions by cyclists rushing to work at the bus stop in front of her block in Tampines Street 45.

'The cyclists weave through people waiting at the bus stop,' said Madam Lim, who is eight months pregnant.

Another resident said the authorities should widen all the footpaths in Tampines before allowing cyclists to use them.

'It is quite a squeeze in many places as not all pavements have been widened,' said Mr Francis How, 53, an insurance agent.

Asked how pedestrians' safety is ensured, a spokesman for Tampines Town Council said its amended by-laws allow it to take enforcement action against reckless cyclists.

Since March 1, it has issued more than 40 warnings to cyclists for speeding, not giving way to pedestrians and not installing lights on their bicycles.

Its volunteer cycling wardens conduct regular patrols, the spokesman said, declining to disclose the frequency of these checks 'to preserve the element of surprise'. [7th April 2010: The Tampines Town Council has clarified that the cycling wardens accompany the auxiliary police officers, who are the ones issuing warnings and summonses during their patrols.]

Near misses

"They come at such high speeds... Why do I have to walk fearing that a bike may hit me or my children?" - MR KELVIN KHOO, 38, a wealth manager who has given up taking evening strolls around his estate near Bedok North

Not a breeze

"It is quite a squeeze in many places as not all pavements have been widened." - MR FRANCIS HOW, 53, an insurance agent who lives in Tampines, Singapore's cycling town, which has widened footways and clearly marked paths for cyclists and pedestrians

What recourse?

"Say I manage to catch a cyclist who knocks me down on the footpath. When I hand the cyclist over to the police, can any action be taken? Won't I just be told to get a magistrate's order?" - MR ALLAN ZHENG, who complained in a letter to The New Paper

What it should have been
(Published on 7th April, 2010)

In an April 4 report, 'Get cyclists off the footpaths: Pedestrians' , The Sunday Times said volunteer cycling wardens conduct regular patrols in Tampines.

The Tampines Town Council has clarified that the cycling wardens accompany the auxiliary police officers, who are the ones issuing warnings and summonses during their patrols.

"Cyclists launch safety drive" (The Straits Times)

"Cyclists launch safety drive," by Mavis Toh. The Straits Times, 02 Apr 2010 (Home Section).
Groups to raise awareness among motorists

A 'ghost bicycle' - painted white - is parked in Clementi Road as a memorial to cyclist Benjamin Mok, who died last Wednesday after being hit by a suspected drunken driver. The bike is meant to raise awareness among drivers that cyclists also ply the roads. -- ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

CYCLING groups are stepping up efforts to raise awareness of cyclists on Singapore roads.

From distributing car decals to lobbying for a national safe cycling campaign to be launched, groups across the island will be doing their bit to highlight the concerns of Singapore's growing cyclist population.

Cyclist safety is again under the spotlight after cyclist Benjamin Mok died last Wednesday after being hit by a suspected drunken driver three days earlier. The death of Mr Mok, a freelance writer who had a cycling blog, caused a stir in the cycling community.

Last week, a 'ghost bike' memorial was erected at the accident scene in Clementi Road. The used bike, painted white, is meant to raise awareness among drivers that cyclists also ply the roads they use.

'The roads are getting crowded as more people are cycling and there are also more cars. Road sharing is a message we want to spread,' said Mr Lee Zi Shin, founder of cycling forum group Togoparts.

The group will be giving out 1,000 car decals - with the slogan 'Let's share our roads' - next week to spread the message.

The forum's Web address - - will also be printed on the decal, and a page with tips for both drivers and cyclists for safe road usage will be posted.

Last year, there were 583 accidents and 19 deaths involving cyclists, down from 604 accidents and 22 fatalities in 2008. In 2007, there were 551 accidents and 22 deaths.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli pointed out in Parliament in January that cyclists were found to be at fault in more than half of accidents involving bicycles.

The number, while decreasing, is still alarming and The Straits Times understands that a committee is also in discussion to launch a national safe cycling campaign later this year.

Safe Cycling Taskforce president Steven Lim is looking to increase the number of road signs that warn motorists of cyclists' presence in housing and industrial estates. Currently, there are at least 119 'Cyclists Ahead' signs in Singapore.

He also suggested that signs be painted on the roads to increase prominence.

Cycling groups interviewed said that to keep safe, they make it mandatory for members to have lights on their bikes and to wear helmets. Most also brief members on routes, highlighting roadworks and danger zones, before setting off.

'Those who come without helmets are told to go home,' said Ms Joyce Leong, founder of cycling club Joyriders. 'Safety is a priority.'

Calls for Singapore to have a dedicated bike lane are again being heard, especially after Tampines became the island's first cycling town, with footpaths widened to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.

In his research paper, The Status Of Bicycles In Singapore, Dr Paul Barter, assistant professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, cited narrow kerbside lanes and high traffic speeds as dangers to cyclists and suggested that road designs be revised to take into account cyclists.

But the Land Transport Authority had previously said that having dedicated bicycle lanes was not feasible, given Singapore's land constraint.

Mr Lim believes motorists and cyclists need to change their attitudes: 'If both groups take their safety seriously and have some patience, they can share the roads safely.'

Ghost bike' memorial for Benjamin Mok, RIP (The New Paper)

"'Ghost bike' memorial for dead biker," Danson Cheong. The New Paper, 30 Mar 2010. Cycling community puts white-painted bicycle at scene of fatal road accident.

IT WOULD be hard to miss this 'ghost' bicycle - painted white all over - parked along Clementi Road when you walk, drive or cycle by.
But what is likely to get your attention are the words on the placard hanging from the bike, especially the ones printed in bold: 'In Memory Of Ben Mok'.

Mr Mok, 35, a freelance writer, was cycling with his friend, Mr Leong Poh Meng, 22, a chef, along Clementi Road last Sunday night when they were hit from behind by a suspected drunken driver.

Mr Mok, who never regained consciousness after the accident, died in hospital on Wednesday from head injuries.

Mr Leong is conscious but is still in the hospital with head injuries.
The two friends were originally with a group of six riders until they split up into two groups.

In honour of Mr Mok, the cycling community decided to come together to erect a memorial.

Mr Peter Chew, a close friend of Mr Mok's, told The New Paper: "'Ghost bikes' first appeared in the US at places where cyclists have been knocked down.

'It serves as both a warning to other cyclists and a reminder to drivers that cyclists also ply the roads they use.'

The idea of a 'ghost bike' was first mooted by netizens on popular cycling forum Dozens of cyclists were spurred into action.

Some offered their vehicles for transportation. Others offered paint supplies and other equipment.

Mr Chew, who owns a bicycle shop in Kovan, offered to supply a used bicycle.

The 51-year-old, who has known Mr Mok for 19 years, said: 'Ben lived in Bukit Timah, but he would still come by once a week to my shop just to chat and play with my dogs.'

When The New Paper visited Mr Chew's bicycle shop yesterday afternoon, the bicycle was still being painted outside the shop.

But by late last night, the bicycle was placed under lock near the scene of the accident. Mr Chew had been working on the bike the entire day with two other cyclists.

One of the cyclists, who wanted to be known only by his online moniker 'Maskrider', said: 'This will serve as a remembrance of Ben.'

Their only worry is that their memorial to their fallen friend would be removed by the authorities.

Mr Chew said: "This is the first 'ghost bike' in Singapore. Let's hope it's also the last." Last year, 17 cyclists and pillion riders died on the road, down from 22 in 2008.

In the accident on March 21, the 62-year-old driver, a doctor, was arrested for suspected drink driving and is now out on bail.

The police are appealing for witnesses. Anyone with information can call 18005471818.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

From the comments: "dotted line on the road" to gauge safe gaps for cyclists

From the comments:

Rod said...

"Yea im a teen and i enjoy cycling and its true i believe LTA should Draw some kind of dotted line on the road to allow cars to gauge how big the gap is to overtake a cyclist so its safer that way."

Back2Nature said...
"I think Rod's idea is simple and effective. Hope this can be done.
  • 1) It supports the current driving lesson and raise the awareness to drivers who may missed or have forgotten about how to safely over take bicycles.

  • 2) It is cheap. A very sparsely spaced, e.g. 20m gaps, dashed line will do. Can start from heavy bicycle traffic roads first.

  • 3) It is technically and legally not a cycling lane. Thus, it doesn't go against LTA's [wrong] argument on space limitation.

  • 4) It should encourage more to ride on roads, thus may eventually create the demand/reason/rationale/need/etc. for the authority to start converting some of these into proper cycling lanes."