As part of its review in improving and strengthening rules involving cycling on roads, the Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP) is studying if there should be a need to make it compulsory for cyclists to ride in a single file or limit the cycling group sizes in order to enhance road safety, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat.
While speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (11 May), Mr Chee repeated that the panel, which was formed in 2015 to suggest rules on the use of bicycles and personal mobility devices (PMD) in public, is carrying out a review to find out if Singapore’s safety rules need to be strengthened and if existing penalties need to be increased.
“For example, it is studying from the public on whether cyclists should be required to ride in a single file at all times on the roads, and if there should be limits on group sizes for on-road cycling,” he noted.
Mr Chee explained that the current rules permit cyclists to ride two abreast in the leftmost lane of a multi-lane road, and are only required to stay in a single file if they are riding on a road with a single lane in order to prevent traffic obstruction.
“There are some ongoing discussion with different groups of stakeholders on whether this is a good practice or not,” he pointed out.
It was raised that this rule can improve safety for cyclists given that “reasonably sized group” would make motorists to pay more attention to cyclists and be more aware of their presence on roads, he said.
“As I said earlier, AMAP is reviewing, we are looking at the trade-offs and I think they will consult widely with different groups of stakeholders before coming to the final recommendation,” Mr Chee said.
“We should bear in mind that cyclists are more vulnerable than those travelling in motor vehicles. The Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP) will review ways to raise awareness amongst motorists on how to share road space safely with cyclists and other users.”
The Senior Minister said this in response to questions raised by MP for Sembawang GRC Poh Li San and MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC Gan Thiam Poh, who wanted to know what the Transport Ministry is doing to enhance road safety and reduce conflict between cyclists and motorists.
Mr Chee also noted that apart from enforcement, public education is a “more enduring solution” in improving road safety.
Workers’ Party’s Dennis Tan had asked in a written question if there were public education campaigns in place on safe practices for pedestrians and cyclists, to which Mr Chee revealed that the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has offered Safe Riding Programme, a free and voluntary programme, since 2018 to educate cyclists and personal mobility device users on safe riding practices.
Mr Chee added that LTA is revamping the Safe Riding Programme and will work with Traffic Police to reach out to road users and encourage public participation.
“We intend to roll out the new Safe Riding Programme in the next few months,” he added.
During a follow-up question, Dr Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah, MP for Jalan Besar GRC, asked if the authorities would consider teaching safety of cycling in schools.
To this, Mr Chee said that the curriculum in school is already heavy but there are already activities in place in primary school to educate students on different aspects of road safety.
“I’m not sure whether we want to put them into the curriculum, because the curriculum is really, I think, very heavy with different content. But this is something which I think we can find other ways of raising awareness, not just with students but also with other groups of road users,” he said.
Separately, Mr Chee also expressed that there have been mixed views received from the public on whether on-road cyclists should be issued with license.
“Some are in support of licensing so that errant cyclists can be more easily identified and punished,” he said.
“Others have expressed concerns that licensing on-road cyclists will increase compliance costs and affect the livelihoods of Singaporeans who are using their bicycles for work and commute.”
Mr Chee also cited overseas jurisdictions like the Netherlands and Denmark do not require cyclists to be licensed.
Even Vienna only issue license to children between the ages of 10 and 12 who cycle alone on the roads in order to make sure they are aware of road traffic rules, Mr Chee noted. Adults are not required to have a license to cycle in the city.
“AMAP will review the practices in overseas jurisdictions, and study the different options and trade-offs carefully before finalising its recommendations,” he said.
“Ultimately, there needs to be more graciousness, consideration, as well as give and take on the roads. Other countries have done it, and I believe so can we.”