New Inter-Agency Committee to Promote Road Safety

Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim spoke on Wednesday in the parliament covering road safety, cycling and catering the transportation system for the ageing population.

When he said that when he joined the Ministry of Transport last August, he had met with public transport commuters and road users for the review of the Land Transport Master Plan and in regular informal discussions. He also visited the two public transport operators to better understand the transport needs, and the viewpoints of the various stakeholders.

In conjunction with the “Safer Roads Singapore” strategy from Ministry of Home Affairs, he is chairing a new inter-agency committee to review safety measures on the road for pedestrians and cyclists. This committee will develop an action plan for the next five years, and will actively engage local communities and the people, public and private sectors.

He says that Singapore has a fairly good track record in road safety. In 2012, Singapore’s road fatality rate was 3.2 per 100,000 persons, an improvement from 3.8 in 2011 that is lower than many other countries.

Giving the example of the “Black Spot Programme” for locations with a high occurrence of accidents, Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal says that LTA will implement additional road engineering measures to reduce the number and severity of accidents.

The first few areas in which this committee will review its safety on are the safety measures within school zones and road safety education. The committee will pay special attention to the needs of elderly and school children and exploring how to customise the safety message for different groups of road users, to achieve greater resonance.

The Committee will look into how pedestrian safety on the roads can be improved. Referring to an earlier suggestion by MP of Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, Dr Janil, Assoc. Prof  Muhammad Faishal said that it is an ideal approach to instituting a “pedestrian safety first” framework especially in places of high pedestrian traffic while still keeping the road network reasonably efficient with a balanced approach.

An example, which illustrates this approach, is the simultaneous right-turning traffic and pedestrian crossing arrangement, which Dr Janil has asked LTA to remove it for safety reasons. He said that LTA has removed the arrangement on a case-by-case basis after careful observation of the traffic flows, and in situations where LTA found that motorists’ view of the pedestrian crossing could be blocked. The right-turn movements at these junctions would then be guided by red-amber-green arrow signals.

“…it is unfortunate that oftentimes, it is human behaviour that poses the greatest safety risk, not infrastructure. We therefore need to consider the characteristics of each road junction individually before we consider removing this simultaneous turning traffic arrangement, instead of introducing a blanket rule.”, said Assoc. Prof Muhammad Faishal on the suggestion to remove the crossing arrangement for all locations.

Speaking on cycling safety, he shared two examples of how cycling enthusiasts have stepped forward to volunteer their time and effort to promote the message of safe cycling. One was a safety video made by Safe Cycling Task Force facilitated by the committee and having LTA to increase the visibility of existing signs on popular routes with cyclist by middle of the year.

One particular public feedback that he receives is cyclists who ride through zebra crossings without stopping to look out for oncoming vehicles. Cyclists need to be reminded that they need to play their part to ensure safety too, and he will consider Mr Teo Ser Luck’s suggestion of a dedicated public education budget to do that.

An initiative that the committee is trying out is painting new markings at zebra crossings well used by cyclists. LTA will trial the new markings at three locations around Tampines, starting from Wednesday. In conjunction with the trial, LTA will be working with the Traffic Police and local community volunteers to engage cyclists to encourage them to dismount at crossings.

He says that Singapore might not want to follow examples of how other countries have an on-road cycling lane and explains, “on-road cycling lanes would also affect the movement of buses, require the removal of street-side parking and expose cyclists to turning traffic if the lanes are not properly designed.”

However, he also stated that LTA is identifying roads where the on-road cycling lane can be studied for feasibility.