After police warning, cyclists continue riding on pavement
Ahead of them was a bus stop packed with morning rush hour commuters. But for the hordes of cyclists on the pavement, they might as well not be there.
They pedalled on, with some weaving past people who were trying to board a bus.
This happened at a problematic stretch on Woodlands Avenue 9 yesterday despite the presence nearby of Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan and just minutes after the cyclists had been warned by the Traffic Police.
Concerned about the cycling habits in his ward, Mr Khaw visited the stretch just before the industrial estate as the Traffic Police conducted an enforcement operation.
As cyclists went past him on the pavement, they got off and pushed their bikes as they should. But once they were far enough from Mr Khaw and the police officers, they got back on their saddles.
Last month, The New Paper reported on the cycling situation on Woodlands Avenue 9 after a resident complained about cyclists riding on the pavement, causing accidents and near-misses.
Other parts of Woodlands Avenue 9 have a shared pavement which is divided between a pedestrian walkway and a cycling lane.
But the problematic stretch after the Woodlands Crescent junction is too narrow to be shared.
TNP observed the hour-plus operation by the Traffic Police to catch errant cyclists from as early as 6.45am. Cyclists who did not dismount at pedestrian crossings or on the crowded pavement were pulled over by the police officers.
More than 100 cyclists had their particulars taken after being warned not to flout road safety regulations.
Fifteen of them were found to have cycled in a disorderly manner and were issued a summons with a $20 fine each.
The rest were let off after the officers educated them on road safety regulations. Many of them were pushing their bikes with a road safety brochure in hand.
But once they were a distance away from officers, most of them continued cycling on the pavement. Hardly anyone wore helmets or protective gear.
On the pavement where there is a cycling lane, many cyclists were seen encroaching onto the pedestrian walkway while some cycled on the roads against the flow of traffic.
On Monday, Mr Khaw posted on his Facebook page that residents had told him cyclists were not using the proper cycling lane. He added that this was illegal and pedestrians had the right of way on the pavement.
Yesterday, in another Facebook post after the police operation, Mr Khaw called for cyclists to be considerate to pedestrians.
He said: "The rule is simple: please use the cycling lane and if you must use the pedestrian walkway, then please dismount.
"Do not ring the bell and charge your way through the pedestrians when you do not even have the right of way."
The cycling situation has been a source of great unhappiness among the residents, Mr Khaw added.
TNP spoke to 10 residents, some of whom said they have been involved in accidents with cyclists.
Ms Chen, 40, said her five-year-old son had been hit by a cyclist as he was about to board a bus. He was unhurt.
"Waiting for the bus at the bus stop has become unsafe," Ms Chen said.
"I don't know how this can be improved, but I hope it happens soon for the safety of my son."
Residents said the situation is at its worst between 6.30am and 9am, and between 5pm and 8pm, when workers are going to work or heading home.
A grassroots leader there, Mr Basith Ali Sulaiman, 44, suggested that barricades or humps be installed near the bus stop.
"This would funnel the cyclists and get them to cycle behind the bus stop. More importantly, these obstacles will make them dismount and not just whiz past the bus stop like a Formula 1 track."
Mr Basith, a freelance bicycle repairman, said he saw an elderly woman get knocked down by a cyclist seconds after she alighted from a bus.
"The cyclist just continued on without stopping. Many of them don't stop for pedestrians. They ring their bells and expect us to give way," he said.
He added that he was glad to see Mr Khaw during the operation.
Mr Amran Zainal, 50, who works at a recycling plant, said he worries for the many children who use the bus stop.
"These cyclists go so fast and they come in the hundreds. It's dangerous for the children who are waiting for a bus," he said.
"The rule is simple: please use the cycling lane and if you must use the pedestrian walkway, then please dismount."
- Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan in a Facebook post
SAFETY TIPS FOR CYCLISTS
- Install a front light and a rear light or reflector for cycling at night.
- A properly secured seat is required for pillion riders below 12 years old.
- Do not cycle on footways, expressways or overhead bridges.
- Always obey traffic light signals.
- Cycle with the flow of traffic when on the roads.
- Always dismount at pedestrian crossings and push your bicycle across.
- Only LTA-approved motorised bicycles are allowed. The minimum age for motorised cycling is 16 years.
- Secure your bicycle with a strong lock, such as a U-lock, when left unattended, even for a short while
- Stick a bicycle security label, available from any Neighbourhood Police Centre, to your bicycle so it can be identified with a unique serial number.
BY THE numbers
Number of writs of summons issued yesterday, out of the over 100 cyclists stopped on Woodlands Avenue 9. In the first half of this year, 47 writs of summons were issued there, with 22 to those found cycling on footways.
Stuck between a road and a hard place
I know I shouldn't do it, but sometimes I feel like I have no choice but to encroach on the pavements meant for pedestrians during my work commute.
You see, the code on Singapore roads seems to be survival of the biggest. The bigger your vehicle, the more you can bully others in your way.
And me struggling to reach speeds above 20kmh on a three-speed folding bike is just small fry to the beasts zipping past me.
When you've had a bus brush past your bike within a hair's breadth to get into the bus bay or a speeding car edge so close to your bike you can see the dandruff in the driver's hair, you start thinking twice about sharing the roads with them.
As a bike commuter, I can understand why the cyclists on Woodlands Avenue 9 prefer the pavement. Jostling for space with two-legged walkers is preferable to ending up as roadkill to a two-tonne behemoth.
The problem is that once they end up on the pavement, some cyclists start behaving like the motorists they dread on the roads.
It comes down to jostling, rather than sharing, on the pavement. Cyclists see pedestrians as a nuisance in their way and weave past them or ring their bells in anger.
We call ourselves a first-world nation, but our road (and pavement) manners are decidedly third world, perhaps even worse.
While our cycling culture has come a long way and we are getting better at sharing the space, there is still a way before we become a cycling-friendly city.
How about speeding up the construction of additional cycling paths? And perchance a cycling lane on the roads?
For the record, I've seen the error of my ways and now ride on the road.
I'm still deathly afraid each time rubber meets asphalt, but I've learnt that bright clothes, hand signals and a smile go some way in keeping one safe on the road.
- ELIZABETH LAW
Share your views with Elizabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org