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11 people fined for illegal cycling in Bedok

Bedok residents fed up with cyclists not following rules and causing accidents even after repeat attempts to enforce them

She has been hit by cyclists at Bedok Town Centre three times this year.

Twice, Madam Kelly Ho, 58, was hit from behind at a wheelchair ramp.

Two months ago, it happened again at a nearby traffic light junction.

Once, she even saw a seven-year-old boy get hit by a cyclist.

In Madam Ho's case, she ended up exchanging words with the cyclists.

The part-time cashier told The New Paper yesterday: "One cyclist even scolded me after he hit me. He told me that this was not my grandfather's road."

She tried to call the police as cycling is not allowed in these areas. But the cyclists always rode off before she could do so.

"Ever since I got hit by them, I have been suffering from back pain. I have to go to the doctor for treatment, paying around $80 each time.

"Why can't they just dismount and push their bikes?"

Madam Ho is not the only one frustrated at the sheer number of cyclists at Bedok Town Centre, a popular shopping precinct with high pedestrian traffic.

For the past three years, staff from the East Coast Town Council (ECTC) have been handing out warning letters and police advisories, asking cyclists to dismount and push their bicycles in pedestrian-only areas such as walkways.

But these measures have had little effect.

So for the first time, during a joint enforcement operation by the ECTC and the police on Thursday, 11 people were fined $100 each for cycling illegally.

Three pictures showing an ECTC employee, accompanied by a community police officer, issuing summonses to cyclists were posted on the ECTC Facebook page.

Said an ECTC spokesman: "The town council and the police have been faithfully issuing warnings and advisories during their joint enforcement action every month. Despite their efforts, it (cycling illegally) has gone undeterred."

On average, the town council received four to five complaints about cyclists each month, he said.

"Some were even hit-and-run cases. There were also cases of unreported accidents. Many accidents in these cases involved senior citizens, children and even pregnant ladies.

"Hence, the town council, together with the police, has been asked to act to prevent such accidents that may result in serious injuries and even loss of lives if nothing is done," the spokesman said.

Unlike cycling towns such as Tampines and Pasir Ris, Bedok does not have a network of cycling paths, which are adjacent to pedestrian walkways.

OUTRAGE AT FINES

The ECTC Facebook pictures angered netizens and cyclists who left scathing comments asking for the rationale behind the summonses.

At press time, the post had received about 500 shares and 200 comments. One user, Ms Maia Li, said: "Can the authorities make it clear just where cyclists can cycle? If you are catching those that cycle recklessly, well fine.

"But for many senior citizens, having the bicycle to take them to buy their daily groceries or have breakfast is the norm."

Cycling group SG Cyclists also chimed in: "What were you thinking, East Coast Town Council? What do you expect the cyclist to do? Fly? Levitate?"

Some pointed out that one of the pictures showed a rack for bicycles in the background and felt that this sent mixed messages to cyclists.

The spokesman clarified that the rack was provided for cyclists to park their bicycles after dismounting outside the town centre area.

"The town council is not against cycling on the road pavements leading to the Bedok Town Centre.

"Those cyclists who were caught were cycling along the common corridors and walkways inside the town centre where there is high pedestrian traffic," he said.

Several banners and signboards had been placed around the town centre to warn cyclists to avoid areas meant for pedestrians, he said.

Cyclists rude and reckless, say residents

STOPPED: A photo of cyclists caught for illegal cycling at the Bedok Town Centre posted on the East Coast Town Council Facebook page.

Many cyclists in the Bedok Town Centre are self-entitled, rude and reckless.

That is the view of six Bedok residents we spoke to. They told The New Paper they were glad that something is finally being done about the problem.

One of them, Mr Clement Chew, 33, said: "They have no concern for anyone but themselves. There is no law and order.

"Every time I see a cyclist riding recklessly, I will tell them to stop as there are children here.

"But some will argue that we don't know how to take care of our children."

Three of the residents had complained to the East Coast Town Council that the situation had got worse over the years.

Madam Gopal Panjawarnam, 65, said she was hit from the back by a cyclist while crossing the road last month.

When she heard about the $100 fine imposed on errant cyclists, the receptionist said: "Good, I'm very happy to hear that they are doing something.

"Can you imagine if it's your kids or grandkids who are in some accident with a bicycle?

"Naturally, you will want them to be punished."

Retiree S.H. Lee, believes that the town council should continue its crackdown against illegal cycling.

HURTS TO PAY

Calling for larger fines against errant cyclists, Mr Lee, 63, said: "Cyclists will only know that it's an offence when money comes out of the wallet. People will know the rules after that."

The resident of more than 30 years at Bedok North Road said he first noticed the problem around five years ago as cycling became more popular in Bedok.

"Cyclists use pedestrian walkways in residential areas as short cuts, and they travel at high speeds.

"The walkways have become more like roads."

Signs vague, say cyclists

REMINDER: The police and East Coast Town Council have posted banners to tell cyclists to dismount and push in the town centre. - TNP PHOTO: KIAT TAN

Cyclists riding just an arm's length from pedestrians, with some swerving dangerously close as they weave through the crowd.

This was what The New Paper observed over three hours yesterday afternoon to see if reckless cycling is a problem at Bedok Town Centre.

When approached, most of the cyclists just kept on going. Ms Ivy Kow, 59, was one of the few who dismounted and pushed her bike.

She said: "If it is very crowded, I tend to be very cautious and push my bicycle instead."

She has lived in Bedok for more than 40 years but started cycling only a year ago.

"The no-cycling signs are too vague and there is only one signboard in this area to warn us of the fine.

"Sometimes, when I see someone cycling, I will be inclined to do the same."

A few days ago, Ms Kow was stopped by the police for cycling in a restricted zone but she was let off with a warning.

Avid cyclist Eddie Lim, who is a member of cycling group LoveCyclingSG, said: "By simply enforcing a fine, (the East Coast Town Council) is not educating us about where to cycle.

"It is not reasonable to expect us to know where we can cycle because cyclists can come from any part of Singapore.

"It is just creating more misconceptions about cycling here and it might end up deterring cycling itself."

The 31-year-old was upset that the town council had decided to fine cyclists without public consultation.

ALL CYCLISTS?

Another cyclist, Madam Kelly Yeo, 55, said some reckless cyclists deserve to be fined but she wondered if the authorities should be penalising all cyclists at the town centre.

"It is not fair as bicycles are a mode of transport for us to run errands or buy groceries. Cycling is encouraged by the Government to stay healthy, so why are they fining us now?" she said.

She felt one solution would be to use the bell.

"Ringing the bell is like a form of communication between cyclists and pedestrians.

"If everyone works together, I am sure we can share the walkways peacefully," she said.