Singapore Petition in respect of Road Safety for Cyclists
PETITION IN RESPECT OF ROAD SAFETY FOR CYCLISTS
The Petitioners below form part of a car enthusiast forum in Singapore, and we believe that we can offer a unique and balanced view toward this issue as many, if not most of us are both car and cycling enthusiasts.
In the proposals below, we are attempting to persuade the Government of Singapore to approach road safety from a holistic perspective, taking into account active and passive safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorised vehicles.
Proposal 1 - Licensing
Much has been said of the behaviour of cyclists on the road, from foreign workers using bicycles as their primary means of transport and who transfer their ideas of traffic rules from their home country into their road behaviour, to the recreational cyclists that ride in large pelotons and who choose to apply or not apply road traffic rules to suit their own purposes.
Then there is the large majority of cyclists who treat other road users with respect and who follow traffic rules.
We believe that it would be highly effective if all cyclists are licensed, much as car and goods vehicle drivers are now. Such a license could carry a fixed fee to fund the development of infrastructure for cyclists (please see suggested proposals below), but more importantly, would require each cyclist to either be trained on road traffic rules, or to sit for a test.
Such a regime could be implemented over 2 years, and this would include amendments to the Road Traffic Act to develop clear rules and penalties for specific offences, such as running red lights or riding in a peloton 3 abreast and right on the edge of the lane.
The statute would also make it clear to foreign workers that they should not be riding on the pavement in a dangerous manner, or to disregard traffic rules, such as riding along the fast lane. Employers of such workers could be tasked to compel their workers to comply via the work permit process.
It should also be mandated that cyclist wear helmets without exception, and to have lights for both front and rear.
By having this licensing requirement, it also demonstrates to owners of motorised vehicles that cyclists pay for the right to use the roads, and therefore are legitimate users of them.
Proposal 2 - Cycling Infrastructure
The Government of Singapore has stated that it intends to develop Singapore into a world class living environment. Inherent in that statement is the intention to be inclusive of all residents and their needs. It is also implicit that apart from parks and waterway development, we should develop the road system to be ecologically friendly, promoting public and non-pollutive transport.
It would be very useful to study cycling in Europe and the United States. Foremost in bike friendly cities in the U.S. are Portland, OR, and Minneapolis, MN.
Please refer to Bicyling Magazine's Bicycling's Top 50 Cities 2012:
http://www.bicycling.com/news/advocacy/america-s-top-50-bike-friendly-cities<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The Ministry of Transport could consider establishing bicycling lanes in stages. The first phase could focus on the recreational riders, on long, wide roads in the north which could accommodate such lanes without substantially limiting the road for vehicular traffic.
Phase 2 could include a bike traffic survey, and setting up lanes for transport within high trafficked areas to reduce pavement cycling. Such lanes should carry maximum speeds to deter recreational riders from abusing them.
In Minneapolis, they have the Midtown Greenway — a 8.8 km former railroad corridor in south Minneapolis that now serves as an east-west bicycle super highway: http://www.bicycling.com/news/featured-stories/1-bike-city-minneapolis
For Singapore, this could be a 4 lane highway for bicycles, two in each direction, one fast, one slow situated on the former KTM railway track. Another potential area for such a bike highway could be in the East of Singapore, running parallel to Changi Coast Road. Singapore could therefore have a North-South-East network.
Establishing park connectors was an extremely good idea, but they were really designed for foot traffic, and cycling quickly on such paths would create an altogether different problem between pedestrians and cyclists.
There are many more ideas on infrastructure, and the above are mere examples.
Proposal 3 - Education
Apart from establishing minimum standards via licencing and training, we believe that educating cyclists and motorists who are "unaware" of the rules of the road via an enforcement process would be highly effective. The LTA and Traffic Police could, in consultation with the public, identify the common areas which pose dangers to all road users. For example, if a car from a minor road fails to give way to a cyclist without creating a danger to the cyclist, or where a cyclist rides against the flow of traffic, such offenders could be required to sit through a 4 hour session on road safety. Case studies and graphic photographs of accidents are quite effective in this respect.
Proposal 4 - Deterrence
This section deals specifically with potential life-threatening situations, either caused deliberately by the driver of a vehicle, or by the cyclist. For example, it should be made clear in the Road Traffic Act that threatening a cyclist with a car or van will result in imprisonment and not merely a fine. For example, physically cutting into the path of a cyclist without giving ample room, or keeping only a very small gap between the bicycle and a car following behind should be severely dealt with.
Adults cycling quickly on walkways to the detriment of pedestrians should also be regarded as committing a serious offence as it could result in severe injuries for the person on foot if a collision occurs.
Cyclists currently ride under the cloak of anonymity. As stated above, licensing removes that cloak, and makes cyclists accountable for their actions and misdeeds, much like motorists, the co-users of our roads.
Collectively, we believe that much has been said by all parties concerned, but it is time for the government to act before another cycling related death occurs.