Woman hurt after motorised bicycle slams into her
Woman, 70, hit by motorised bicycle on pedestrian walkway. Rules need review, says daughter
Be tougher on errant motorised bicycle riders.
That call came from an angry daughter after her mother, 70, was badly hurt when one of these motorised bicycles crashed into her on April 18.
The woman, who wanted to be known only as Madam Heng, has fractures on her face and bruises and abrasions on her forehead and limbs. Her left thumb ligament is also torn.
Her daughter, housewife Eileen Lee, 45, said enforcement should be stepped up to prevent such errant cyclists from hurting others.
"Everyone knows the potential danger of motorised bicycles. It's a matter of time before something similar happens again," she told The New Paper.
As motorised bicycles grow in popularity - there are 11,600 such bikes now - the Land Transport Authority is holding a consultation exercise to look into the rules on such devices.
Describing Madam Heng's version of events, Ms Lee said her mother was on her way to buy groceries when she was knocked down at a walkway next to Block 120, Paya Lebar Way.
"My mum was walking on a pedestrian walkway when she was hit. The rider did not really extend any help. He just asked my mum if she was okay and left when she said she was.
"But my mum was sitting on a floor and couldn't get up. Her forehead was already bleeding," said Ms Lee.
Madam Heng was later helped up by an old man who saw what happened. She still limped to the market as her husband was waiting for her there.
It was Ms Lee's brother who rushed Madam Heng to the hospital when he realised she was seriously injured.
"My father called my brother the moment he saw my mum bleeding," said Ms Lee, who added that she does not live near her parents.
A medical check up at the hospital revealed that Madam Heng's injuries went beyond superficial wounds.
The accident had cracked her facial bone and eye socket.
"The doctor said the bone is no longer intact and won't be able to support her facial muscles," Ms Lee said.
If surgery is not done within two weeks, Madam Heng's facial muscles may droop, eventually affecting her jaw and chewing, she added.
Madam Heng is scheduled to undergo this surgery tomorrow.
Her torn thumb ligament will take at least a month to heal.
Said Ms Lee: "Today, it could be my mum. Another day, it could be some other elderly person or young children. The authorities need to review and enforce the rules if they want to approve the use of these bikes.
"In my mum's case, the consolation is that the culprit has been identified. Can you imagine the kind of anguish the family members will be in if it's a hit-and-run accident?" Ms Lee said.
Pedestrians TNP spoke to echoed Ms Lee's sentiments.
Mrs Charis Mun, who declined to reveal her age and occupation, suggested licensing these motorised bikes so it would be easier to track down the offending cyclist in the case of a hit-and-run accident.
"Relying on enforcement won't work. The police cannot be everywhere and most likely will not be around when any incidents occur," she said.
Freelance life coach Jacqueline Lim, who is in her 50s, said there should be a lane on public roads to cater to these motorised bicycles so pedestrians do not have to share a narrow pedestrian footpath with riders.
A motorised bicycle had swerved in front of her on the foot path before speeding off two weeks ago, she said.
She added that nothing much has been done despite her bringing the issue of safety up often at Residents' Committee meetings.
"I don't wish to be a naggy pedestrian, but the safety of the elderly and kids has to be taken seriously," she said.
In response to TNP's queries, a police spokesman said the case has been classified as one of rash act causing grievous hurt.
A 39-year-old man has been arrested in relation to the case. TNP understands that he is a coffeeshop assistant.
Police investigations are ongoing.
Can you imagine the kind of anguish the family members will be in if it's a hit-and-run accident?
- Ms Eileen Lee
I don't wish to be a naggy pedestrian, but the safety of the elderly and kids has to be taken seriously.
- Freelance life coach Jacqueline Lim
BIKE RULES TO BE REVIEWED
During the Committee of Supply debate last month, it was announced that the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will hold consultations to look into the rules on the use of motorised bicycles and other personal mobility devices like e-scooters.
A strict interpretation of the rules under the Road Traffic Act, National Parks Board (NParks) regulations and the by-laws of some town councils would suggest that these devices should not be allowed on both footpaths and shared paths.
"However, this is clearly not a sensible policy, since they are a convenient way to get around the neighbourhood and are increasingly common," Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim had said.
There are 11,600 authorised motorised bicycles here, Dr Faishal said.
In the last five years, NParks issued 220 summonses to riders for using them in parks and on park connectors. In the same period, the Traffic Police issued around 3,500 summonses to cyclists, including those on motorised bicycles, for cycling on footpaths.
Figures from LTA show that 1,042 summonses were issued last year to those who use or sell motorised bicycles that do not meet the requirements. This is up from 978 in 2013.
E-BICYCLES ALLOWED ON ROADS
Currently, only electric low-powered models of motorised bicycles approved by LTA are allowed for use on public roads. All new models must be approved by LTA-authorised vehicle inspection centres.
- Riders of motorised bicycles should comply with the following requirements:
- The construction of a motorised bicycle must be similar to that of a conventional pedal bicycle;
- It must be electrically powered, not petrol-driven;
- Its motor's maximum power output must not exceed 200 watts.
- The electric motor can cut in only when the rider starts to pedal and must cut off when the bicycle reaches a speed of 25kmh;
- The rider must be at least 16 years old and must wear a protective helmet.
Regulations state that anyone found guilty of illegally modifying a motorised bicycle may be fined $2,000 or jailed up to three months.
Those found using or keeping an unapproved motorised bicycle may be fined up to $1,000 or jailed for three months. Repeat offenders may be fined up to $2,000, or jailed a maximum of six months.
BY THE numbers
Number of authorised motorised bicycles here, according to Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim
Code of conduct needed: MP
Putting up warning signs can be futile if there is no enforcement, said Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC Tin Pei Ling.
"All along, we have been giving feedback, whether it's the Traffic Police, town council, or the Land Transport Authority (LTA)," said Ms Tin, who looks after the MacPherson area, where Madam Heng's accident happened.
She added that she will follow up on this recent accident with LTA.
"There has been some talk and consultation on these electric mobility devices. Hopefully, they will find a balanced approach to this.
"For some who need to rely on these electric mobility devices, I can understand. I have residents who tell me they have weak limbs and mobility problems.
"But at the same time, there should be a code of conduct so that there is some sort of accountability. Hopefully, that will keep everyone in check and unfortunate accidents can be avoided," Ms Tin said.
Motorised bicycles and other personal mobility devices are becoming more popular here, raising safety concerns.
Anything that is motorised should strictly stay on public roads said road safety expert Gopinath Menon.
"It is very clear at the moment that footpaths are meant for pedestrians.
"Even if they are widened, it doesn't mean it's okay for these motorised mobility devices and pedestrians to share the same path," said the Nanyang Technological University adjunct associate professor and retired transport engineer.
The danger lies in the high speed difference between motorised mobility devices and pedestrians, Prof Menon said.
Motorised bicycles are allowed to travel up to a speed of 25kmh, five times the speed of a walking pedestrian.
This inadvertently increases the risk of accidents.