Monday, May 13, 2013

"Stop the killing on the roads" - Editorial, The Straits Times

"Stop the killing on the roads," editorial in The Straits Times, 13 May 2013.

"AT LEAST three people here come to an untimely end on the roads every week. Three cyclists died recently in as many days. A professor's wife lost her life under a double-decker bus. Two young brothers were killed when a cement mixer ran over them while they were cycling. They made the news; many others did not. All of the deaths were tragic. They were both needless and avoidable.

With over 965,000 vehicles and millions of pedestrians and cyclists jostling on the roads in a land-scarce city, to flout the rules, act inconsiderately or push one's luck is to court disaster. There were 327,503 traffic violations last year, many of which had the potential of causing more harm than what transpired. It is safe to assume that hundreds of thousands of other illegal and dangerous acts escaped detection. Law enforcers cannot be everywhere and, like street cameras, can pose only a deterrent effect. Saving lives will call for preventive action undertaken by all. Instead of playing a cat-and-mouse game while cutting corners to gain a dubious advantage on the roads, all road users need to take personal responsibility for the safety of not just themselves but also other road users.

Fostering such a road culture will take time but is well worth the effort as safety consciousness paired with graciousness on the streets can palpably transform the daily experience of people on the move. The Traffic Police's plan to reward deserving drivers, as part of the Safer Roads Singapore movement, can help to promote good habits. Civic groups should assist by reaching out to other road users as well - cyclists, young pedestrians, the elderly, and foreign workers (particularly those from teeming cities with hell-bent motorists).

Heavy vehicles continue to deserve more attention because their drivers, in an elevated position, have to cope with blind spots and comparatively reduced manoeuvrability. Other road users often do not make enough allowance for such limitations and take their chances. Involved in 10 fatalities in the first three months of this year, drivers of these behemoths have to be dealt with firmly when they are caught speeding.

Apart from "enforcement, engagement and education" strategies, it is prudent to also closely study "black spots" where accidents tend to occur more frequently. Road engineering, markings, signage and competing traffic flows might be hazardous in one way or another. Improving traffic management at certain busy junctions should also be considered. In the end though, the roads are only as safe as the people who use it. There is no use pointing fingers. Motorists, cyclists, pedestrians - all - must play their part."

Saturday, May 04, 2013

SG Cyclists, the Inclusive Cycling Community

We'd love Singapore to be really bicycle friendly. We're a long way off but things have improved.

"SG Cyclists, the Inclusive Cycling Community" is a Facebook page run by a Mountain Biker, a Road Cyclist, a Triathlete, and a Fashion Stylist!

They are a shy bunch who ride two to three times a week, and no names for now, just judge them by what they do. I'm already recommending to newbies and oldies alike.

Why? I love their humour, helpful advise, suggestions and facts. In your facebook feed, you'll be urged to get off your butt to ride, be informed about the right way to wear a helmet, careful to check your lights on a Wednesday evening ride, be alert about haze and lightning, remember our fallen cyclists and measures to be safe and ways to enjoy your ride.

These are great messages to be reminded of and share with friends you might have just nudged on to a saddle - you need not ride alone!

Wearing a bicycle helmet

One morning I shared the helmet graphic with some green friends who have a tendency to point their visors to space! A helpful and effortless reminder before their next ride.

The founder of SG Cyclists almost lost a friend in a road accident. This sparked a network of like minded cyclists to spread the safe cycling message. And facebook is the medium through which information is spreading fastest these days between cyclists and other concerned individuals in Singapore.

SG Cyclists will expand their page admins to diversify content to match the cycling scene in Singapore. If they manage this, it could provide a central place for cyclists to gather online.

Just in their infancy, SG Cyclists had a fruitful conversation with Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Kheng about the fate of Tampines Bike Park. It was an example of the sort of dialogue they are willing to pursue.

SG Cyclists conversation with MP Baey Yam Keng

A cycling-friendly Singapore has become more of a reality just from 10 years ago. We have along way to go, but this will grow with our city. We can't pass the buck to government alone, but efforts from the ground are sorely needed, such as this one.

Go one, hop over and see you at SG Cyclists, the Inclusive Cycling Community.

Another cyclist killed - worker returning to dorm in collision with bus at Jalan Boon Lay/International Road junction

"Cyclist who escaped Jurong blaze killed in collision with bus," by Lim Yi Han. The Straits Times, 04 May 2013

Junction of Jalan Boon Lay and International Road

"He had escaped a blaze at his workplace in the Jurong Industrial Estate four days ago, as he was out on a job.

But Malaysian Tan Kian Eang, 45, was not so lucky early yesterday morning, as his bicycle was involved in a collision with an SBS Transit bus at the junction of Jalan Boon Lay and International Road.

Paramedics from the Singapore Civil Defence Force arrived shortly after the accident at around midnight and pronounced Mr Tan dead at the scene. The Singaporean bus driver has been suspended pending police investigations.

This is the second fatality from a bus collision in less than two weeks. A 42-year-old woman died after she was hit by an SBS bus in Clementi on April 23.

According to evening daily Lianhe Wanbao, Mr Tan, who worked at Nam Hup, which supplies tents for outdoor events, was cycling back to his dormitory when the accident occurred.

He had planned to return to Malaysia over the weekend to vote.

He is survived by his wife and a seven-year-old daughter.

A colleague, Mr Friday Dayan, 30, said he had known Mr Tan for seven-and-a-half years. He said: "He was funny and like a brother to me. I'm very sad."

Nam Hup was slightly damaged in the fire on Tuesday, which destroyed three warehouses.

Ms Tammy Tan, senior vice-president of SBS Transit's corporate communications, said yesterday the company was "very sorry that this has happened" and its foremost priority would be to get in touch with Mr Tan's family to express its condolences and render what assistance it could.

She said SBS was also stepping up junction drill checks on its bus captains and would remind them of the need to always be alert.

Workers at the Jurong Industrial Estate told The Straits Times the junction is dangerous, with heavy vehicles tending to speed.

Security guard Ahmad Sata, 64, cycles to work from his home in Boon Lay. He said: "I'm very careful in this area because the heavy vehicles are very fast and sometimes don't give way."

Mr Gong Xiao Wei, 27, a mechanical engineer, added: "I was fined for cycling on the pavement before, but I don't dare to cycle on the roads. There are too many heavy vehicles here and my life is more important."

Friday, May 03, 2013

LTA of London, TFL, is testing out Dutch style road to make cycling safer in London

LTA of London, TFL, is testing out Dutch style road to reduce cyclist related accidents.

"Even at first go, it's safer then current round about."

After TWO cyclists died in London this year, stubborn TFL is now actively learning the best practices from the Netherlands to make cycling safer in London.

How many cyclists died in Singapore this year so far? What can LTA do to make it safer here?

BBC News London 30 April 2013
'Dutch roundabouts' could be seen in London next year

Roundabouts like the ones used in the Netherlands separating cars from cyclists could be used in London as early as next year, the city's cycling commissioner has said.

Trials of the layout are taking place at a research laboratory in Berkshire. The roundabouts do not conform with Department for Transport regulations as they stand. But Andrew Gilligan said if the trials continued to go well they could be seen in 2014.

'Fantastic for cyclists'
The layout gives cyclists priority and means they are in the line of sight of drivers when vehicles exit the roundabout. Campaigners have called for a number of London junctions to be changed to make them safer following cyclists' deaths.

In 2011 two cyclists died in the space of three weeks at the Bow roundabout in east London. The roundabout trial, which has been going for six weeks and will end in July, forms part of the mayor of London's Vision for Cycling. More than 600 people have been involved so far and the effects on safety and capacity will be studied. The impact on pedestrians and lorry, van and car drivers will also be monitored. Members of the public can participate in the trials.

Other ideas being tested include traffic lights with separate signals for cyclists. Mr Gilligan said: "We've got a cycling budget of £913m over 10 years and it includes £100m to refit junctions. "I'm really looking forward to seeing this [roundabout] on the road. I think it's going to be fantastic for cyclists."

Subject to the outcome of the trials, Transport for London (TfL) will work with the Department for Transport to try the roundabouts on the public highway. TfL said improvements at Bow roundabout and a 20mph speed limit at Waterloo roundabout were due to be delivered this summer as part of ongoing improvements.