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Panel submits recommendations for road cycling guidelines, decides against registration of bicycles

Panel submits recommendations for road cycling guidelines, decides against registration of bicycles
Cyclists on the road on Sep 16, 2021. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: The panel tasked with reviewing regulations on road cycling to improve safety for both cyclists and motorists has decided against recommending registration of bicycles or cyclists

It instead recommended a rule to limit the group length of on-road cycling groups to five cyclists in a file, and proposed a new guideline in the Highway Code for a minimum distance of 1.5m for motorists passing cyclists on the roads. 

The Active Mobility Advisory Panel - which proposes regulations on the use of bicycles and personal mobility devices (PMD) in public spaces - submitted its report to Transport Minister S Iswaran on Friday (Oct 1). 

The 15-member panel - which is chaired by Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development, Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim - said in its report that it had studied suggestions such as bicycle registration and licensing cyclists. 

“Overall, there is little evidence from overseas jurisdictions that such resource-intensive regimes are effective in deterring errant cycling, or enhancing road safety,” it said. 

Such measures could also discourage the take-up of cycling as well as “disproportionately affect more vulnerable groups of cyclists”, such as seniors and those who rely on bicycles for work and transport, the panel added. 

“Therefore, the Panel does not recommend introducing them at this juncture,” it said. 

Most places - including countries such as the Netherlands which is well-known for its cycling culture - do not impose such measures while those areas that do largely use such initiatives to deter theft and for insurance purposes, it noted. 

The panel instead “strongly encourages” cyclists to take up third-party liability insurance, which it noted can help provide compensation for victims of accidents, as well as protect cyclists from expensive claims.

RIDING TWO ABREAST

In May, Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat had said the Active Mobility Advisory Panel was studying whether cyclists should ride in a single file

However, in its report, the panel recommended to continue allowing cyclists to ride a maximum of two abreast on roads with two or more lanes.  

Riding two abreast on roads helps to improve cyclists’ safety by increasing their visibility to motorists, it said, noting this benefit has been highlighted  by both cyclists and motorists. 

It also recommended that the current requirement for cyclists to ride in single file on single-lane roads and in bus lanes during bus lane operational hours continue. 

The panel suggested introducing a rule that cyclists on the roads limit their group length to a maximum length of five bicycles -  translating into no more than five cyclists in single file, or 10 cyclists when riding abreast. 

This length takes reference from the length of a large vehicle such as a public bus, it said. 

“This rule aims to strike a balance between allowing cyclists to continue riding in groups for safety and visibility, while avoiding overly large groups of on-road cyclists causing obstruction and inconvenience to other road users, and potential safety concerns when motorists need to weave through them,” it said. 

The panel also proposed a guideline for different groups of cyclists to keep a safe distance of approximately two lamp posts, or around 30m, between groups. 

It also wants a guideline to be introduced in the Highway Code and driving test handbooks for motorists to keep a minimum distance of 1.5m when passing cyclists on roads. 

“This enhancement is important, given that cyclists are the more vulnerable users on roads,” it said, adding that countries such as France and Australia had mandated a minimum passing distance. 

GREATER PUBLIC EDUCATION EFFORTS

The panel also recommended that  the authorities enhance public education of road rules and guidelines, such as by introducing a safety handbook to promote greater awareness of the regulations for both cyclists and motorists. 

“Safety is a shared responsibility, and all road users have a role to play. We hope to see more public education efforts to enhance awareness and clarity of existing rules and regulations amongst different road users,” said Associate Professor Faishal in a Facebook post. 

Senior Minister of State Chee said on Facebook that the Transport Ministry would review the recommendations before giving its response.

Noting more had taken up cycling since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Mr Chee said road safety requires a collective effort by the community.

"Beyond reviewing the existing safety rules and penalties, I urge all road users to be considerate, to drive and ride safely, and in so doing, make our roads safer for everyone.”

Source: CNA/az(gr)

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