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Road cyclists: Govt studying laws, including licensing and theory tests, as part of safety review

Road cyclists: Govt studying laws, including licensing and theory tests, as part of safety review

Source: TODAY
Article Date: 13 Apr 2021
Author: Ng Jun Sen

A government review panel will be studying the experiences of other countries, including the suggestion to reinstate the law requiring all cyclists to register their bicycles.

  • A government review will look at cycling on roads here
  • This will include examining the infrastructure, public education, as well as legislation and enforcement
  • The process will take a few months
  • The topic has had renewed interest following recent incidents of cyclists involved in road accidents or close shaves
  • A review is needed to increase road safety while not deterring people from taking up cycling

A government panel will be reviewing the infrastructure for cycling, the road behaviour and possible legislation and enforcement of cyclists on roads over the next few months, Mr Chee Hong Tat said.

The Senior Minister of State for Transport added that the Government is aware of concerns from motorists and cyclists, which arose as more Singaporeans are taking up cycling and are doing so on the roads. 

“It is a good thing, but we want to do so in a safe manner,” he said on Monday (April 12).

“Safety is the common interest and common concern that all the stakeholders share, so what we want to do is to be able to initiate a review process focusing on how we can enhance safety for all users.”

Mr Chee was speaking to the media following a meeting with members of the Active Mobility Advisory Panel (Amap) at the headquarters of the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in Little India, where the issue of road safety involving cyclists was discussed. 

The topic has had renewed interest following recent incidents of cyclists involved in road accidents or close shaves. In recent months, TODAY has also received several letters from readers regarding bad drivers and errant cyclists.

Last month, a 31-year-old cyclist was killed in a crash involving a public bus at Loyang. Another 80-year-old cyclist was hospitalised due to an accident involving another bus on Boon Keng Road in March.

Earlier this month on his Facebook page, actor Tay Ping Hui called for stricter enforcement as well as a mandatory registration of all cyclists who want to ride on the roads, following a personal encounter with a group of cyclists while he was driving.

Acknowledging these incidents, Mr Chee on Monday said that the review panel will look into whether revising the rules is needed in Singapore.

The review panel will do so by studying the experiences of other countries, including the suggestion to reinstate the law requiring all cyclists to register their bicycles, he said.

Such a law had existed in Singapore until it was repealed in 1982. Its original intention was to deter errant riding behaviour and help the authorities carry out enforcement.

Mr Chee noted that in some jurisdictions, however, such rules were not needed.

“We’ll also study what the experiences have been in this regard, like in the countries that have many cyclists (such as in) the Netherlands, for example,” he said.

“They don't, at this moment, have registration of bicycles or licensing of cyclists. Instead they use other ways to ensure safety, but it is a proposal that the panel can look at as part of the overall review of our existing rules and see whether such a move, overall, is good for Singapore.”

Mr Chee then said that it is key to review this in a “balanced and fair manner” in order to not inadvertently discourage cycling, which is an important part of Singapore’s plans for green transportation and a car-light society.

There are existing safety rules that both motorists and cyclists would have to comply with — these come with criminal charges and severe penalties if violated, Mr Chee added.

“So, one of the things that we want to do through this review process is to raise awareness and public education about what these rules are so that people are clear. And this has to go hand-in-hand with stepped up enforcement by traffic police and by the LTA,” he said.

Traffic Police commander Gerald Lim also took part in the discussion with Amap. He stressed that road safety was a shared responsibility of all road users.

“All users must comply with traffic rules and regulations and do their part to keep our roads safe.

“The Traffic Police will work with Amap and relevant agencies to look at the overall safety of all users, and I urge all road users to be more tolerant and gracious to one another.”

Mr Steven Lim, an Amap member and the Singapore Cycling Federation's vice-president for safety and education, said that road safety is a complex issue and increased legislation alone may not be the solution for some of the problems.

For example, the suggestion to license cyclists and register bicycles had come from the licensing and registration framework for drivers and road cars respectively.

Yet bad drivers still exist, even though these laws for motorists have been around for a while, Mr Steven Lim said.

“If you just put (this whole framework) onto a cycling issue... (will) it really work? That's where this review needs to be done… to take some time for us to really understand the issue from different perspectives and come up with something that is suitable for our environment.”

He added that he will be consulting cyclists for their views on the review, and possibly looking at doing so through focus-group discussions.

Mr Chee said that the strategy to enhance road safety is to look at rules and regulations for a future scenario whereby more people take up cycling.

Another key plank of this effort is to focus on infrastructure improvements, such as Singapore’s ongoing effort to build a comprehensive park connector network, as well as public education and efforts to promote road etiquette for users.

Asked about whether mandatory theory tests for cyclists is a way forward, Mr Chee said that this, too, will be something for the panel to consider.

“At the end of the day, it is really focusing on how we can enhance safety, and there are many ways to achieve that. Whether (theory tests or licensing) is the most appropriate way, I think that's something that we want to hear from different stakeholders before making the recommendations,” he said.

Copyright 2021 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

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