I had previously penned a commentary on my proposal for courses or licences for non-motorist cyclists before they cycle on public roads (here); these perspectives were also published in My Paper last week (here). The following piece was originally posted as a comment (here).
I was an avid cyclist myself, riding long distances around the island. Safety is the responsibility of both drivers and cyclists, and it always takes to hands to clap. This is something that argumentative netizens always fail to consider before shooting off at either sides.
I have often seen comments from cyclists on local forums, Stomp, and other social media platforms pushing for cycling lanes, or from motorists demanding that cyclists pay road taxes and Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) and even calling for a complete ban of bicycles on the roads. Others have suggested that all bicycles should be required to be registered and that licence plates be made compulsory.
These are not solutions to the problem of cyclist deaths. The cycling community’s request for new lanes may seem legitimate; and if we take a look at certain parts of Europe, it is in fact a good solution. But this is impractical for Singapore. We simply do not have enough space to expand our current road network to include another lane, and even if we did, I doubt the number of cyclists using it will justify the high construction costs. On the other hand, road tax and ERP should not be charged until we experience pollution from bicycles, or traffic congestion caused by cyclists. Any requirement for licence will also defeat the purpose of the bicycle.
Cyclists In Singapore
Whenever blame-pushing happens, there is a great tendency to paint all cyclist with a broad brush, maybe due to the lack of knowledge about the various types of cyclists. As such, I feel it is important for all parties to understand the different kinds of cyclists, before shooting off blindly.
We used to have only two groups of cyclists: first, labourers, mostly foreign on their daily commute to and from work, with no clue about our traffic rules; second, the hobbyists, who wear their helmets and consider the road rules. However, with recent reports of reckless “pros”, we begin to see an even greater diversity within the cycling community. But, without further complication, we simply have those who follow traffic rules, and those who do not. The ones who fail to comply with our traffic rules, like the packs who ride through red lights as if they were in the Tour de France, should be punished.The ones who fail to comply out of ignorance, like those who ride against the flow of traffic or cruise two-or-more abreast, might need education – but that in itself is another story. Law-abiding cyclists should not be thought of as a nuisance, and in fact, they have every right to use the roads so long as they stick to the guidelines set by the LTA.
Yes, there are reckless fools within the cycling community. However there is also a good number of drivers who are no different. So it has to boil down to individual responsibility. From what I have experienced, having a good sense of defensive riding and knowledge of our motorways are really important to getting around safely. You need to know what type of traffic to expect around each kind of junction. You need to know how your presence on the road may, for example, affect the path of a vehicle filtering into a sideroad or expressway. Once you recognise your position on the roads, you act accordingly, and things can work out fine indeed.
Bicycles and motor vehicles can coexist on our roads. Accidents happen all the time, and road deaths are an ugly thing that happens even more with motorcycles than bicycles. Yet we are not going to enforce a ban motorcycles – that doesn’t solve anything.
Again, safety is the responsibility of the individual who uses the roads.
This article was written by Theophilius Lim (Mr.), a former cyclist.