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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Dedicated bicycle lanes? Perhaps, but not islandwide

While the Government will not implement dedicated bicycle lanes islandwide, it does not rule out introducing them in selected areas.
MyPaper - September 11, 2012
By: Joy Fang
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Dedicated bicycle lanes? Perhaps, but not islandwide

WHILE the Government will not implement dedicated bicycle lanes islandwide, it does not rule out introducing them in selected areas.

It will also review penalties for cycling offences on roads and pedestrian walkways, and look into whether the wearing of safety gear should be made compulsory for cyclists.

These details were shared by Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim yesterday.

He explained that nationwide cycling lanes on roads are not feasible in land-scarce Singapore as most roads "are optimally sized for traffic conditions".

"Adding a dedicated lane for non-motorised traffic would require additional land or the narrowing of existing vehicle lanes, with (an) attendant adverse impact on traffic," he said.

Instead, the Government has made off-road cycling paths a priority, and is looking into linking cycling paths between towns, capitalising on the Park Connector Network, he said.

However, within reasonable limits, the Government can see if there are specific locations where cycling on roads can be implemented, he said, adding that it is studying other cities' approaches, and may pilot some of their ideas where feasible.

Associate Professor Faishal's remarks come in the wake of the death of bank employee and cyclist Freddy Khoo, 48, on Aug 18. He died after a lorry hit him along Loyang Avenue. The incident sparked a furore in the cycling community, which called for safer roads for cyclists.

Prof Faishal yesterday said the total number of accidents reported involving cyclists which resulted in fatalities and injuries dropped by 17 per cent between 2008 and last year.

He also said that there had been an average of 18 cyclist deaths per year from 2008 to last year.

According to preliminary data from the Department of Statistics, the number of cyclists injured dropped to 169 between January and June this year, compared to 271 for the same period last year.

However, cycling fatalities rose. There was a total of 11 cyclist deaths in the first half of this year, compared to eight in the same period last year.

Members of Parliament (MPs) questioned the inconsistency in penalties for cycling offences on roads versus pedestrian paths.

For instance, if cyclists rode quickly on pavements or without due regard for the safety of others on roads and pavements, they may be liable to a composition fine of $20, without being charged, under the Road Traffic (Bicycle) Rules.

But if cyclists do not dismount and push their bicycles in an underpass, and proceed to ride through it instead, they may be fined $1,000.

Prof Faishal said the Traffic Police and Ministry of Home Affairs are reviewing the enforcement framework "to ensure that they are commensurate with the severity of the respective offences".

The findings will be announced when the review is completed.

Still, he pointed out that heavier fines may be meted out if cyclists are charged in court.

Under the Penal Code, errant cyclists may be jailed up to one year, fined up to $5,000, or both, for riding in a rash or negligent manner in public places.

A police spokesman told my paper that the total number of people booked for cycling offences from January to June this year was 761, up from 680 for the same period last year.

Nominated MP Nicholas Fang suggested that cyclists be required to undergo training, as it is "at odds" that one who is vulnerable on a bicycle is subject to a less stringent training requirement than drivers, who are protected by their vehicles.

Prof Faishal said the Government prefers to impart knowledge on how to use roads safely, "rather than instituting a formal training and licensing regime".

This is because the profile of cyclists is diverse, and they can cycle for multiple purposes, such as recreation, sport or travel, he added.

Mr Fang also asked if it was possible to push for cycling as an alternative mode of transport.

On this, Prof Faishal said: "We have an efficient public- transport system, whereby the MRT and buses provide better transport modes for our people.

"Nevertheless, we will provide infrastructure for cyclists who may want to travel from one town to another."

It seems at odds that somebody on a bicycle, sharing the same roads as vehicles...is not required to undergo... systemised education.

NMP NICHOLAS FANG

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