'I am never cycling again'
Boy hit by van escapes with only scraped shins
As he cycled home from school, he saw the van coming up behind him and thought the driver would stop.
But the next thing he knew, he was lying underneath the middle of the van with his crushed bicycle.
As he lay there, he thought to himself: "I am never cycling again."
Mohamed Taufik Syavendy Yasin, eight, had been cycling home after remedial lessons in school when he was hit by the van.
Both were turning left at the junction of Jalan Sultan and Victoria Street at about 3.50pm on Tuesday.
Miraculously, the Primary 3 pupil escaped with just bloody scrapes on both shins.
The accident occurred just a day after The New Paper ran a story on children cycling or skating on roads unsupervised.
The driver, who wanted to be known only as Mr Tan, told TNP: "It was a green light and I wanted to turn left. I never saw him at all."
When asked how it happened, he said repeatedly: "I don't know."
But in an interview with Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao, he said he hoped to explain the accident to Taufik's family. He also said that it was his first accident in 22 years of driving.
The accident happened as the Stamford Primary School pupil was cycling home from school to Block 10, North Bridge Road. He has been taking this 10-minute journey every day since the beginning of this year.
The shy and quiet boy recalled the accident yesterday: "I saw the van and I thought the driver saw me and would stop. Then the van hit my head and I screamed before falling off my bicycle."
He has no idea how he ended up under the panel van, but the vehicle crushed his green bicycle.
His father, Mr Mohamed Suhaimi, 47, said: "He is very, very lucky."
At the scene, several passers-by helped to pull Taufik onto the kerb.
Both shins swathed with bandages, Taufik said, shaking his head: "I don't want to cycle anymore."
Just as well. His parents have decided he will now take the bus to school. Taufik has an MC till the end of the week.
The couple have also decided not to let their other children, two six-year-old girls, cycle.
Mr Mohamed, an odd-job worker, said: "If they are so brave to want to learn to cycle after this, okay then. But I would rather they don't."
He had been hesitant when Taufik first suggested cycling to school as some of his schoolmates did.
Mr Mohamed said: "As a parent, I was definitely worried. Especially after the Tampines accident involving the two boys," he said, referring to the brothers who were killed by a cement truck at the junction of Tampines Avenue 9 and Tampines Street 45 last January.
But because he and his wife were too busy to take him to school, they agreed to his request after accompanying him the first few times. Taufik had also cycled to and from the mosque safely many times previously.
Mr Mohamed taught Taufik how to cycle three years ago, before Taufik started primary school. He had bought Taufik the green bicycle for about $100 then. They will not be buying a new bicycle although the green one is beyond repair.
Mr Mohamed said: "The wheel at the back was crooked, the chain was broken and the seat was gone."
He had been at home in their one-room rental flat when he was alerted to the accident by Taufik's schoolmates, who live in the same neighbourhood and were cycling behind when the incident happened.
Mr Mohamed said: "They came to my door and told me Taufik had been in an accident, but they didn't know how it happened because they didn't see it."
Mr Mohamed rushed to KK Women and Children's Hospital, where he was met by his wife, Madam Yeni Zulika, 30.
The housewife had been collecting food for the family in Pasir Ris when her friend called and told her of the accident.
Madam Yeni said: "I was so scared, I didn't know what happened."
Both were relieved that Taufik was not severely injured.
Police said they received a call about the accident at 3.49pm. No arrests have been made. A Singapore Civil Defence Force spokesman said they had dispatched an ambulance.
He is very, very lucky.
- Mr Mohamed Suhaimi, Mohamed Taufik Syavendy Yasin's father.
Look out for each other
Banning young children from cycling alone on roads is impractical.
Driving safety expert Gerard Pereira said that it is unfair to set an age limit on cyclists as cycling is a leisure activity for children as well.
Mr Pereira, manager of the Singapore Safety Driving Centre, said that it is also difficult for an adult to supervise all the time.
He said: "Sometimes, there is no other option than for the child to cycle alone. Parents have to make the judgment whether the child is ready or not."
Mr Lim Biow Chuan, Member of Parliament and member of the Government Parliamentary Committee on Transport, feels that children should be supervised, but he admitted that it depends on the maturity of the children.
Parents have to teach them about road safety, but he feels they do not spend enough time doing it.
He added: "They often take it for granted that other road users will be careful, but other drivers may not be.
"It is an accident waiting to happen, especially when people in Singapore become more impatient."
Mr Gopinath Menon, vice-chairman of the Singapore Road Safety Council, agreed.
He said: "Motorists still do not have much regard for cyclists yet.
"We have to further educate them that the roads belong to all users and we have to share the road with cyclists as well."
Mr Pereira highlighted the need for care between road users, especially for the young.
He said: "Even though road safety is everyone's responsibility, children are still young and innocent, so as motorists, we should be looking out for them more."