by Robin Low
Just recently, LTA made a ban for all e-scooters on footpaths, forcing the users to convert to e-bikes or bicycles and use the road. Within 2 weeks, I’ve observed near-accidents and witnessed an accident where the cyclist without lights and helmet — cycled against traffic near a junction — causing the accident and went onto the sidewalk and cycled away.
Singapore is a country where supercars are often seen on the roads, and sometimes you can hear them accelerating between traffic lights. With a mix of fast and slow vehicles, and LTA forcing more bicycles and e-bicycles on the roads, there is an even stronger need some form of “highway code” for road users to understand how to use roads safely.
I have spoken to several elderly cyclists who cycle in any direction of traffic convenient to them. I have informed them about the importance of lights and helmets, but most of them ignored me as it is additional costs and hassle which can be easily stolen if they left it on their bicycles. They informed me that they have cycled for years and not been hit by a car, and asks, “If the government does not legislate this, why do I bother?”
Many of them like to cycle against traffic as they can see oncoming traffic, and they did not seem to care when I inform them that it is not easy for motorists cannot check for them if they cycle against traffic and motorists at junctions may not be able to see them.
In Singapore, motorists need to go through extensive training on the theory and practical before getting a license. Even buskers need a license. I have seen a lot of awareness campaigns to tell people not to use their PMDs under flats, but I have not seen any rules for cycling on the roads in Singapore, informing cyclists the safe usage of the roads.
I have lived in many countries before and seen cycling a very viable form of transport. However, many countries also have a strong cycling culture and bicycle laws which applies to e-bikes, small scooters and various PMDs.
If it is mandatory for motorcyclists to wear helmets as helmets save lives, should we have more rules for cycling on the roads as well, like lights (front and rear), helmets and a need for the cyclists to follow traffic rules as a “vehicle”? I feel that LTA needs to have more safety guidelines as they push more cyclists on the roads, or I can guarantee more fatalities on the roads. As there are so many sheltered walkways, can we also have cycling paths if cyclists and e-bikes are to use the roads instead of sidewalks?
Sadly, until LTA act on this, drivers need to take extra caution on the roads because when accidents happen, even when a cyclist is in the wrong, the driver is still liable under the law that we currently have, and for the case where a cyclist cause the accident and run away, the rear driver still needs to bear full responsibility, even when the front car camera record footage of the accident.
The ban for e-scooter can take 1 day to enforce, let’s see how long or how many deaths does it take for LTA to come up with safer riding condition for cyclists and drivers.
This was first published on Mr Low’s Medium and reproduced with permission.