SINGAPORE: From Jan 1 next year, those cycling on roads will have to keep to groups no greater than five bicycles in length, roughly the length of a bus.
The new rule means cycling groups on roads will be capped at five riders in single file, or 10 if cycling two abreast.
This is because of space constraints on Singapore's urban road network, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) said on Wednesday (Oct 20).
Those found violating this rule will face a fine of S$150.
For safety and visibility, cyclists will still be allowed to cycle two abreast on roads with two or more lanes, the ministry said. On single-lane roads and in bus lanes during bus lane operational hours, cyclists will also have to continue riding in single file.
The new rule on group sizes comes after a six-month review of the existing regulations by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP).
In April, the panel - formed in 2015 to propose regulations on the use of bicycles and personal mobility devices in public spaces - was tasked with reviewing the rules on road cycling so as to improve safety for motorists and cyclists.
The 15-member panel, which is chaired by Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, submitted its recommendations to the Ministry of Transport earlier this month.
The growing popularity of cycling in recent years has led to "increased interactions between cyclists and other road users, and concerns about road safety when cyclists ride on roads," said MOT.
"AMAP noted that while most motorists and cyclists are law-abiding, there are a small group of errant motorists and on-road cyclists who endanger the safety of others," the ministry said, noting it would increase enforcement actions against such errant road users.
FINES TO BE DOUBLED
MOT added that from Jan 1, errant cyclists who commit offences such as failing to stop at a red light as well as riding against the flow of traffic or on expressways will have their fines doubled.
Cyclists found to have committed these offences will face a S$150 fine, up from S$75 currently.
For more serious cases, such as in instances where the cyclist causes harm, he or she may be charged in Court and face a fine of up to S$1,000 or a jail term of up to three months for the first offence, or both.
For subsequent such offences, the cyclist will face a fine of up to S$2,000 or a jail term of up to six months, or both.
NO BICYCLE REGISTRATION FOR NOW
While the Active Mobility Advisory Panel had studied the possibility of bicycle registration and licensing cyclists, it had ultimately decided against making these recommendations.
It described such measures as "resource-intensive", with little evidence to suggest they were effective in deterring errant cycling or enhancing road safety.
"We agree with AMAP that licensing of cyclists or registration of bicycles should not be introduced at this juncture," said MOT.
"Besides affecting the majority of law-abiding cyclists, there is little evidence from overseas case studies and Singapore’s past experience that licensing of cyclists is effective in promoting road safety or deterring errant cyclists," it added.
MOT said it also agreed with the panel's recommendation that cyclists be encouraged to take up third-party liability insurance, adding that it would continue working with insurers and cycling groups to promote the take-up of such insurance.
The panel had also proposed that guidelines be introduced for different groups of cyclists to keep a safe distance of approximately two lamp posts, or around 30m, between groups, and for motorists to keep a minimum distance of 1.5m when passing cyclists on the roads.
"Although these are not requirements for strict compliance in all situations, we agree that these are useful guidelines and should be followed where practicable to enhance road safety," the ministry said.
"The Government will continue to partner stakeholders in its public education and outreach efforts, to raise public awareness and enhance clarity of new rules and guidelines," said MOT.
It added that it looked forward to road safety efforts from all stakeholders, including initiatives by public transport operators to enhance bus driver training materials and to "build mutual understanding between cyclists and bus captains through driver-simulations".
ADDRESSING PAIN POINTS
Speaking to members of the media on Wednesday, Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat said stakeholders included Singapore Post as well as food delivery companies, adding that the Land Transport Authority regularly engages these firms to ensure their riders are aware of updated regulations.
“SMRT Buses has produced a video for their bus captains, which features positive examples of showing consideration towards cyclists and safe driving practices, such as maintaining adequate passing distance when the buses are overtaking cyclists,” he said, noting the video also includes negative examples that drivers should avoid.
Mr Chee also said that the authorities had taken enforcement action against more than 500 errant cyclists since the beginning of the year.
When asked if the single new regulation limiting group sizes would suffice in tackling errant cyclists, Mr Chee said the rule addressed the issue of large groups of cyclists hogging the road and making things difficult for other road users.
This was a particular “pain point” highlighted by many, he added.
Mr Chee noted the lack of compliance was sometimes due to people being unaware of the laws, and that introducing more regulations could make adhering to them more difficult.
The priority is on enhancing road safety, he said.
“When the rules are too complex, when there are too many of them, and people don't know what these rules are, that will not help the outcome.”