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Having common sense in a common road space
The good news from Mr Kenneth Xie's video on rush hour at Woodlands Crescent (below): It's heartening to see so many commuting on bicycles.
The not-so-good news: They have little regard for traffic rules and many were not wearing helmets, an important safety feature.
This cavalier attitude boils down to one thing: the perception that cyclists can get away with almost anything.
While there are laws regulating cyclists, they don't have to register their bicycles - unlike motorists. This makes it more difficult to track down those who flout the rules.
There are programmes on safe cycling, but they seem to be preaching to the converted.
The cyclist who sticks to proper paths, wears a helmet and looks out for others already knows what he is doing.
It's time to take education into the heartland, where not everyone may be savvy about the rules. This includes migrant workers, who possibly make up the largest population of bicycle commuters in Singapore.
To be clear, there are laws and there are safe riding practices.
While it is not an offence not to wear a helmet or to ride two abreast, it's common sense to wear a helmet because of the high incidence of head injuries in bike accidents.
And if you ride two abreast on narrow streets, you are courting danger because some motorists, like some cyclists, also do not obey traffic rules.
Sadly, in Singapore, it's often a case of survival of the biggest.
So motor vehicles will edge perilously close to bicycles or cut dangerously in front of them to make a left turn.
This, in turn, causes cyclists to invade pedestrian footpaths, where they speed and ring their bells in annoyance at pedestrians for blocking their way.
In some countries, motorists tend to be more considerate towards cyclists and pedestrians, giving way to them even when they don't have to. Here, an elderly priest does that and gets bashed by a road bully.
It's all about respect and give and take when we share the same space on the roads or footpaths.
For that to happen, regardless of whether you are a cyclist, a cabby, or a cement mixer trucker, a mindset change needs to happen.
And, cyclists, for your own sake, wear a helmet.
Share your views with Elizabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org
IT'S NOT ABOUT EDUCATION, IT'S ABOUT ENFORCEMENT
FROM READER ALLAN TAY
I refer to Elizabeth Law's comment, "Having common sense in a common road space" (The New Paper, Nov 3).
The statement, "It's all about respect and give and take...", reminds me of the "cyclists and pedestrians must learn mutual coexistence'' advice dished out by MPs who love their bicycles.
I know I am not the only one who has urged the relevant authorities to bring back bicycle registration. Many of our roads have security cameras. Yet, until bicycles have registration plates - as they used to - identifying errant cyclists is going to be an uphill task.
THE NEW PAPER, NOV 3
Authorities insist that bicycle registration is cumbersome. Can it be any more cumbersome than our system of COEs and ERPs?
"It's all about respect," Ms Law rightly noted. However, surely this respect also extends to the law?
Every day, we see cyclists flouting the law by riding on expressways, failing to dismount and push their bikes across pedestrian crossings, not having front and rear lamps when riding in the dark - just to name three offences.
Yet how many times have we seen errant cyclists being booked?
When insufficient action is taken, is it any wonder that respect for the law greatly diminishes?
If the law is to be respected, then it has to respect itself.
It is all very well to admonish cyclists who don't wear helmets. But have you noticed how many cyclists who ride against the flow of traffic at high speed wear helmets - often with cameras mounted?
Such cyclists seem to think having a helmet on makes them immortal.
So far, we have been fortunate. Does someone have to die before enforcement is considered?
PEDESTRIANS HAVE TO BATTLE CONSTANTLY WITH CYCLISTS
FROM READER CHUA KIM CHOO
The report, "Errant cyclists in Woodlands Crescent," is a subject I have written about many times, but nothing has been done.
While waiting at the crowded bus stop in front of Block 612 in the mornings, I have often encountered a woman cyclist carrying a schoolboy and ringing her bell furiously through the crowded bus stop, demanding that she have the right of way.
At the traffic junction outside Khatib MRT station, there are many cyclists "fighting" for space with pedestrians.
When crossing the junction, these cyclists will speed furiously across, ringing their bells loudly without any care that there is also a massive crowd of pedestrians.
Even when we are walking along a pavement meant for one person, the cyclists will ring their bells, expecting us to move aside - onto the main road or the grass kerb.
And if you don't, be prepared to be scolded for blocking their way.
We're not spared at the void decks of our HDB blocks either.
While the authorities have been encouraging this means of transport, have they ever thought of ways to protect pedestrians?
I hope the relevant authorities will look into this quickly before it explodes into a serious issue.
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Caught on camera: Cyclists causing chaos at Woodlands Crescent
Motorist films errant bikers at Woodlands Crescent
Driving to work in the morning often feels like steering through an obstacle course for Mr Kenneth Xie.
Cyclists riding in groups, beating red lights or going against the flow of traffic are a part of the daily grind for the 30-year-old design engineer.
In a bid to highlight the chaotic cycling situation at Woodlands Crescent, where he lives, Mr Xie uploaded an edited 2½-minute video from his in-car camera unit, which captured what happened in 30 minutes.
It caught errant cyclists in action while he was on his way to work on Oct 23 from about 7.30am.
About 1½ minutes into the video, a cyclist can be seen stopping right in the middle of the road with a girl, who looked like she was wearing school uniform, riding pillion.
At one stage, numerous cyclists ignore the red light and swerve onto the next road.
At another, numerous cyclists ride across against traffic, which makes Mr Xie comment in the video: "I think they think this road belongs to their grandfather."
Asked why he put up the video, Mr Xie said: "I've seen these errant cyclists' negligence of the safety of other road users too often that I feel the issue needs to be highlighted."
The father of two is ultimately worried about the safety of his two daughters, aged three and six.
"I am worried to even let my daughters walk on the walkway because I am afraid these cyclists would hurt them," he said.
Mr Xie also alluded to a TNP report last year, which resulted in fines against errant cyclists in another part of Woodlands last year.
The New Paper went to the same stretch of road yesterday from 6pm to 7pm and found at least 20 cyclists riding against the flow of the traffic.
Most of them would turn in from Woodlands Avenue 9 - near the industrial parks - to Woodlands Crescent.
There, they would look over their shoulders and wait till the roads were clear before cycling to the other side of the road, against the direction of the traffic.
NOT PAYING ATTENTION
Some would even ride two abreast in tight spots, exchanging smiles and banter instead of focusing their attention on the road.
Occasionally, screeches of brakes could be heard as the cyclists reacted to an oncoming vehicle.
Like Mr Xie, those who live or work in the area are no strangers to such scenes.
Mr Josh Kyaw Soe Naing, 39, an assistant manager at Fortune Supermarket, said that in his four months of working in the neighbourhood, he has seen many careless cyclists on his way to work.
"I always see them in the morning. A lot of them seem to be rushing to work so I try to get out of their way," he said.
Admiralty Secondary School student Muhammad Ernaim Affandi, 15, agreed.
"When I'm on my way to school, I make sure I stay to the side of the walkway. Sometimes, they cycle in groups because I can hear a lot of bells ringing, and when that happens, I usually stop walking to let them pass," he said.
Ms Maricris Llamosa, who lives in the area, said that she was almost knocked down by a cyclist just last month at about 7pm.
She too, attested to the chaotic cycling situation at Woodlands Crescent and felt it put pedestrians in danger. (See report on facing page.)
Errant cyclists are fast becoming Singapore's new breed of traffic offenders, said Mr Steven Lim, president of the Safe Cycling Taskforce.
"These cyclists have the mentality that they are not motorists and that allows them to get away with traffic offences," Mr Lim, 48, said.
He added that even in accidents, these cyclists may feel that their actions will not cause any deaths.
Under the Road Traffic (Bicycle) Rules, cyclists are required to ride close to the left side of the road and in a way that does not obstruct vehicles moving at a faster speed.
They are also not allowed to ride alongside any vehicle, or two other bicycles, on roads unless they are overtaking.
The penalty for a first-time offender under the Road Traffic Act is a maximum fine of $1,000, or a jail term of not more than three months.
For subsequent offences, the penalty is a maximum fine of $2,000, or a jail term of not more than six months.
They are also expected to follow all other traffic rules.