Some cyclists question need for new helmet rule on roads
Transport Ministry set to implement new rules on bike, PMD use next year
While cyclists will soon have to wear helmets when they are on the road, some of them are still resistant to the idea of making it compulsory by law.
The Ministry of Transport (MOT) said yesterday it has accepted all the recommendations made by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel (Amap) last month and will be implementing them early next year.
The hotly-debated proposals include the mandatory use of helmets on the road for cyclists and power-assisted bicycle (PAB) users, and reducing the speed limit on footpaths from 15kmh to 10kmh for bikes, personal mobility devices (PMDs) and personal mobility aids, such as motorised wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
Mr Francis Chu, 58, co-founder of cycling enthusiast group Love Cycling SG feels the unintentional side effects of the new helmet law outweighs its pros, which he said are limited.
While its intention is to protect cyclists on the road, Mr Chu said many cyclists already wear helmets, so the new law would have little impact.
Instead, it would discourage casual riders from cycling, added Mr Chu, who is advocating for the status quo, where helmet use is discretionary.
He told The New Paper: "Singapore's cycling network is not yet perfect. From time to time, most off-road riders will need to use the road... The new law will force them to carry a helmet, which is required only for 10 per cent to 30 per cent of the trip."
Mr Yong Jian Rong, 20, who uses bike-sharing services daily to commute from home to the MRT station, said he cycles on smaller roads when he needs to go faster but will stick to the pavement once the new rules kick in.
The full-time national serviceman said: "There is no way I will wear helmets. It's too troublesome to take (one) along."
When implemented next year, the rule on helmet use will not apply to those crossing the road as part of their journey on footpaths and shared paths.
In its submissions, the 15-member Amap said there was wide support for mandatory helmet use on roads, where cyclists are the most vulnerable users travelling alongside larger and faster vehicles.
When they are off-road, where speeds are slower, cyclists are not considered the more vulnerable party.
However, cyclists and PMD users, who are not allowed on roads, are strongly advised to use helmets while on paths.
Research published in 2016, which reviewed 40 studies worldwide covering 64,000 injured cyclists, found that helmets can reduce the chances of serious head injury by almost 70 per cent and fatal head injury by 65 per cent.
A cyclist of eight years, who wanted to be known only as Mr Li, said he always wears a helmet after his friend fell on a park connector and hit his head.
The research engineer, 36, said his friend's helmet cracked into two but saved him from a head injury.
"Cyclists should always wear a helmet at higher speeds," he added.
Mr Chu, who resigned from Amap last month, said he has yet to see data indicating head injuries suffered by cyclists without helmets on the road is a serious issue in Singapore.
The focus should instead be on pedestrian safety, he added.
Welcoming the new rules, Mr Koh Juay Meng, 60, president of senior citizen volunteer organisation RSVP Singapore and an Amap member, said: "These rules are meant to be a deterrent rather than to penalise users."