An expansion of Singapore’s cycling path network could be brought forward to give scooter riders more places to ride following the footpath ban, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min on Tuesday (17 December). The minister said the three-fold expansion could be sped up by “a couple of years”.
“The reason we are doing this is because with the announcement of the ban of e-scooters on footpaths, the connectivity of active mobility users has been affected,” said Dr Lam.
Earlier, Dr Lam had announced that the Land Transport Authority intends to expand the nation’s cycling path network to 750km by 2025 and 1,300 km by 2030.
“We are currently looking at the timeline, hopefully we’ll be able to bring it forward by a couple of years,” he said.
Dr Lam added that the LTA and the Ministry of Transport (MOT) are working with grassroots advisors in various town councils on this and are considering the possibility of reclaiming roads to make space to cycling paths.
Attending a cycling event in Ang Mo Kio, Dr Lam cycled a 6km route with Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary and Active Mobility Advisory Panel chairman Assoc Prof Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim.
Back in 2015, Assoc Prof Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim talked about “a faster form of active mobility” and government support for the use of bicycles and personal mobility devices (PMDs). In a parliamentary speech, he said: “We believe that cycling and the use of PMDs can complement our public transport strategy and move us closer to a car-lite nation.”
“To this end, we have extensive plans to expand the National Cycling Plan to support cycling as a mode of transport, particularly for first- and last-mile trips and for short trips within towns,” he added.
Going back to Dr Lam, he noted that Ang Mo Kio would be a “role model town” for promoting active mobility.
LTA is now building another 16km of cycling paths in the town by 2022, making the cycling path network in Ang Mo Kio as the longest in any residential town, said the authority on Tuesday.
Dr Lam, speaking to reporters at the cycling event, said he hopes similar “active mobility infrastructure” can be built in other towns, though he recognises that there will be some challenges.
“As much as possible we will try to create as many cycling paths… I understand that in various towns there may be physical constraints,” said Dr Lam.
“But LTA has come together with the various agencies, like the National Parks Board and the Urban Redevelopment Authority, to see how we can optimise the space available.”
Some possible moves to create more space for this structure includes reclaiming roads and drain space for cycling paths, installation of bicycle wheeling ramps to help cyclists push their bikes up stairs that lead to cycling paths, more pedestrian and bicycle crossing facilities, redesigning bus stops to accommodate cycling paths, and creating more bicycle parking facilities.
No change to speed of cycling paths till sudden ban of PMDs from footpaths
Based on Dr Faishal’s 2015 parliamentary speech, the government had been encouraging of PMD usage at least four years back. However, the conversation around PMDs have heated up recently following a string of accidents involving errant riders resulting in injuries and even one fatality.
The thing is, the issue of errant riders have long been raised in Parliament in 2016.
Answering to a barrage of questions from eight MPs who were concerns with the near-misses and collisions between PMD riders and pedestrians, Then-Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo responded to questions on the enforcement against errant PMD users in 2016, saying, “the careless behaviour of a small minority of users has caused accidents, and led some members of the public to oppose their proliferation.”
“It would be unfortunate if we allowed the careless behaviour of this small minority to prevent the larger majority of responsible and considerate cyclists and personal mobility device users from enjoying the benefits of such travel modes.”
She added, “The sensible approach is to adopt measures that will help prevent accidents. Earlier this year, the Active Mobility Advisory Panel, which comprises representatives from a broad spectrum of society, issued a list of recommendations on how this can be achieved.”
So a position was taken that measures would be adopted to prevent accidents. These include the strict fire safety regulations for PMDs, speed and weight limits, registration, and most recently the footpath ban.
However, since 2016, we haven’t heard of any measure taken to speed up the construction of more cycling paths – the paths that PMDs are only allowed on – which is curious given that the goal of being a ‘car-lite’ nation is something the country has been working on for a few years now till it had chosen the drastic step of banning PMDs from the footpath without much notice in November this year.