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No more brakeless bicycles on public paths and roads in future as Government accepts advisory panel's review

No more brakeless bicycles on public paths and roads in future as Government accepts advisory panel's review

A man rides a bicycle with a dog in the front basket at East Coast Park in Singapore on Dec 25, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Brakeless bicycles will no longer be allowed on public paths and roads in the future, said the Ministry of Transport (MOT) on Monday (Jan 25).

This was part of the recommendations set out in the Active Mobility Advisory Panel's fourth review, which the Government has accepted, MOT said in a media release.

The review, submitted to the Government on Dec 30, was "to promote safe use of active mobility devices".

READ: All bicycles on public paths and roads should have brakes installed, says advisory panel

"While path safety has improved, it is timely for the panel to continue to monitor the landscape and make forward-looking recommendations," said the ministry.

"The panel also plays an important role in engaging the public, and promoting awareness and civic responsibility among all path users."

SAFETY CONCERNS

In the review, the panel recommended mandating that all bicycles have brakes installed when used on public paths and roads to address safety concerns from the use of brakeless bicycles.

"This was welcomed by the active mobility community, retailers and pedestrians," said MOT.

"We will work closely with the panel to implement it. More details will be announced in due course."

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

The proposed rule will mainly affect fixed-gear bicycles, known commonly as fixies, as well as bicycle motocross (BMX) bicycles used for cycling sports. These make up the majority of specialised bicycles that have one handbrake or no brakes at all, the advisory panel noted.

Riders of brakeless fixed-gear bicycles brake by backpedalling, a manoeuvre that requires considerable force and power.

Under the proposed rule, such bicycles must have at least one handbrake installed when used on paths and roads. Sport bicycles can continue to be used without brakes in controlled environments such as pump tracks and skate parks, the panel added.

Meanwhile, the transport ministry said: "All active mobility device users should continue to practise safe riding and to look out for other path and road users."

READ: Plan to expand bicycle paths welcomed, but more needed to encourage Singapore's cycling vision

THIRD-PARTY LIABILITY INSURANCE

The panel also highlighted the need to monitor the effectiveness of the requirement since December 2020 for active mobility device users who ride for businesses or commercial reasons to be covered by third-party liability insurance.

Authorities also need to engage the insurance industry to develop more accessible and affordable third-party liability insurance for non-commercial users, the panel said.

"We agree with the panel’s assessment and will work closely with them as they continue to study the issue," said MOT.

"ENCOURAGED" BY PUBLIC SUPPORT: FAISHAL IBRAHIM

Panel member and Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim called the Government's decision "a good move which improves the status quo".

"Although most bicycles sold come with two handbrakes, it is timely to take this regulatory step as there has been more interest in bicycles without handbrakes lately," he wrote in a Facebook post on Monday.

"I am especially encouraged that many cyclists, pedestrians and retailers voiced their support for this move and agreed that it will be safer for all path and road users."

Commentary: Can we co-exist with PMDs? Yes, but we need to take a different path

On the issue of third-party liability insurance, the panel will need to further study the idea of mandating it for all non-commercial riders, said Assoc Prof Faishal.

"Such a regulation will impact many Singaporeans like the elderly, families and children who ride for leisure. It is an important and intricate issue, and we need to look at the trade-offs carefully, without losing ground on our push for active mobility," he added.

"If you ride for leisure, do consider purchasing insurance for peace of mind, for yourself and your family."

Source: CNA/jt(ac)

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