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Where do cyclists belong? Not on roads or pedestrian paths, a new survey finds

In the survey commissioned by the programme Talking Point, many respondents also wanted more rules, as they felt there are more errant cyclists today on roads and pavements.

SINGAPORE: Even as an expert panel mulls over regulations for road cyclists, a survey has found cyclists to be between a rock and a hard place.

More than 90 per cent of 503 people surveyed think cyclists should be made to follow more rules. Yet, a majority do not want cyclists to be allowed on roads (59 per cent) and pedestrian paths (74 per cent).

More than 80 per cent of respondents also felt there are more errant cyclists today on both roads and pavements, found the online survey commissioned by the programme Talking Point.

Conducted between Apr 22 and Apr 27 by Mediacorp’s Media Research Consultants, it polled Singaporeans and permanent residents aged 18 to 64, of whom 68 per cent said they ride a bicycle, mainly for leisure or exercise.

A woman cycling past a row of shared bicycles parked outside Our Tampines Hub. (Photo: Facebook/Baey Yam Keng)

Talking Point's discussion on this comes at a time when the Active Mobility Advisory Panel is reviewing rules for cyclists on roads and studying possible measures such as the registration of bicycles, licensing of cyclists and whether to make them take a theory test.

READ: Panel to review rules on cycling on the road, registration of bicycles to be studied: Chee Hong Tat

Senior Minister of State (Transport) Chee Hong Tat announced the review in April and said it could take a few months. The panel comprises members who represent groups such as senior citizens, youths, cyclists and motorists.

Cycling has become more popular in the last two years as people who are unable to travel seek out local adventures. The pool of food delivery riders has also grown.

READ: Singapore sees cycling boom amid COVID-19, with increased ridership and bicycle sales

READ: Singapore's e-bike numbers double over the past year amid demand from food delivery riders

Singapore’s cycling path network will expand from 460 km now to 800 km by 2023 and to more than 1,300 km by 2030, according to the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

These paths will connect homes to MRT stations, bus interchanges and nearby shopping malls and schools.

One of the cycling paths in Tampines, identified in 2009 as Singapore's first cycling town. (Photo: Facebook/Baey Yam Keng)

In a densely populated city, however, tensions continue to bubble between cyclists and other users of roads and pavements. And examples of bad behaviour on the roads and pavements continue to go viral on social media.

The worst behaviour of cyclists cited by the survey respondents turned out not to be road-related. Instead, it was speeding on footpaths.

Other types of bad behaviour cited include: Ignoring traffic lights, road-hogging, cycling on pedestrian footpaths and cycling against the flow of traffic on the roads.

On rules that should be implemented, nearly a quarter of the respondents agreed that road cyclists should take a standard theory test.

TP cycling survey results 1

About one in five felt that cycling should be banned on some roads, while 15 per cent said it should be banned on all roads.

Others were in favour of registering all bicycles (18 per cent), mandating that cyclists wear bright clothes when riding (12 per cent) or making insurance with third-party coverage a requirement (9 per cent).

The LTA said in 2016 that it had studied cyclist and bicycle licensing. But it would be “resource-intensive to implement and police a system to license bicycles or cyclists that is up to date”, the then director of active mobility, Tan Shin Gee, said in a letter to The Straits Times.


CNA Insider’s Instagram community also weighed in with views on cycling rules and where cyclists should use their two-wheelers.

A cyclist wearing a protective mask rides past in a housing estate in Singapore. (File photo: Reuters/Edgar Su)

Pedestrians said it is stressful to keep watching out for cyclists who speed or ring their bell impatiently on footpaths. Yet, some also felt that roads are unsafe for cyclists unless there is a designated lane for them.

Junior college student Sora Wang Zhiyu feels bad about scaring parents with young children or the elderly when she rides on footpaths. But the 20-year-old is not a highly skilled cyclist and is afraid to go on the road with buses and cars.

Social media users who called for better infrastructure, like dedicated bike lanes and wider footpaths, noted that cycling is an environmentally friendly mode of transport that should be promoted.

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But some were realistic about space limitations; for example, wider pavements might come at the expense of roadside trees.

Ms Then, a leisure cyclist who preferred not to give her full name, said it is “quite impossible” for cyclists and pedestrians to coexist on footpaths, “since there are no rules for pedestrians and cyclists to keep left”.

“Pedestrians going in opposite directions already clash with one another, since most people’s eyes are glued to their mobile phones,” said the 35-year-old.

“It’s better for cyclists to go on the road, but some don’t even wear helmets when riding or know basic traffic rules/hand signals.”

WATCH: Cyclists on roads: Is car-lite Singapore a possibility? (22:03)

Undergraduate Kristy Chin, 25, said “casual” cyclists running errands or going to the market should be allowed on footpaths — as they do not travel at high speed and usually look out for pedestrians — but not those who use road bicycles or cycle in groups.

Many agreed that some rules, as well as a generous dose of consideration for others, are needed to avoid accidents and disputes.

Instagram user @thad.ho said some accidents could happen in areas with blind spots or when pedestrians dash for the bus, and also when cyclists speed up to catch the green man at traffic lights or go down slopes without braking.

“Whatever it may be, we need awareness of our surroundings and situations. Not just fines, (bans) or complaints,” he said.

Mr Chee said in April that the review will be done in a “balanced” manner so as not to inadvertently discourage cycling.

Watch this episode of Talking Point here. The programme airs on Channel 5 every Thursday at 9.30pm.

Source: CNA/dp


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