Mr David Ong (email@example.com)
Member of Parliament
Dear Mr Ong,
Re: Pavement cyclists and Pedestrian safety.
I am one of your constituents living at Blk 203 Bukit Batok.
I noticed that the Park Connector project from Bukit Batok to Jurong East is nearing its completion. The track is completed and signage has been mounted.
This will make travelling between the towns much more pleasant and perhaps safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
After mulling over the issue for some time, I would like to offer some of my personal feedback, not just specifically on the Park Connector (PCN) but on pedestrian safety and cyclists in general in Bukit Batok.
I do not own a car and neither do I cycle, so I am basically a pedestrian. Unless I take the bus or the train, I usually move about Bukit Batok on foot. The most difficult thing about walking in Bukit Batok is the danger posed by pavement cyclists. I must clarify that I am not against cyclists per se.
Unlike Tampines New Town where cycling on pavement is legal, cyclists in Bukit Batok technically still come under Rule 28 of the Road Traffic Rules (1981) where it is prohibited to ride on the pavement. 1st time offenders can be fined $20 for the traffic offense.
Officially under the Road Traffic Act (Chap 276, Sec140), bicycles are considered as vehicles and are required to be ridden on the road abiding to all the relevant traffic rules and regulations.
But in reality, the majority of cyclists in Bukit Batok ride on the pavements. Many of them do this due to their fear of being on the road with other bigger vehicles, for their own personal safety, or simply due to the fact that they are ignorant of the cycling prohibition rule.
I have seen cyclists showing utter disregard for traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, riding along shop corridors and even taking their bicycles onto escalators. Then there are those who constantly ring their bell to impose their ‘right of way’ along pavements, never mind the safety of pedestrians.
With all disregards to etiquette and rules by cyclists, pedestrians like me are most vulnerable on the pavements.
Even waiting at a bus stop poses a great danger to commuters.
The way our road pavements are designed, the path leads right through the bus stop shelter. Many years ago, a raised floor or bollards prevented bicycles from accidentally going through a bus stop but these were removed to make it more user-friendly for the physically challenged.
The downside to this is that it became a boon for cyclists who now have an unhindered ride straight through without consideration for commuters’ safety.
The new PCN along Bukit Batok Ave 1 is a prime example.
Even though the PCN cycling section detours behind the bus stop shelter, cyclists routinely disregard this safety path and continue to cycle through the bus stop. Some even without slowing down at all despite signs that say “Dismount and Push” which are completely ignored.
The other thing that I await in trepidation is that under the Jurong GRC 5-year plan, there is a proposal to build a new Bicycle Park at the Bukit Batok MRT station south end.
From the preliminary sketch plan, you can see that the exit from the Bicycle Park leads out onto, and connects directly to, the pedestrian pavement and not to the road. This is an implicit open invitation to cyclists to ride on the pavement itself.
It seems it was designed to benefit cyclists without considering pedestrian safety. Something is not right here.
|(Copyright Jurong GRC Town Council) - Scanned picture used for example.|
Can I suggest that before you launch the PCN officially, and before you build the Bicycle Park, a bit more thought be given to the safety of pedestrians?
We need a more holistic approach to the whole matter.
Besides just building the infrastructure for better connectivity, we need to educate the public, the pedestrians, the cyclists, the motorists and other road users.
Once a suitable PR or education programme is completed, we should then enforce basic rules and regulations for its proper usage.
In the area of educating the public, we can start with some sort of awareness programme in schools, in commercial places and factories within Bukit Batok.
Many of the offenders are foreign workers who may not be aware of the pavement restriction.
For motorists driving through Bukit Batok town, consider signage to warn them about giving space to cyclists (who should be educated to ride on the road instead). It’s all about courtesy to each and every road user.
I am not suggesting that enforcement of Rule 28 be heightened immediately. This will only result in more accidents for cyclists if enforcement takes place without education and thus will serve no beneficial purpose.
Unlike the way Tampines estate is trying to resolve their problem, my opinion is that we should tackle the problem at its root, i.e. teach cyclists the correct manner of safe cycling on the roads. Make Bukit Batok town a bicycle friendly estate but we should tackle the problem head-on rather than spend money on creating parallel bicycle tracks. Bicycles belong on the road, thus cyclists and motorists should be made aware of this. In the absence of a national awareness programme, let our constituency take the lead.
We can educate motorists to give space to cyclists by putting up signage like “Look out for cyclists”, “Give 1.5m space” “Cyclists ahead”, etc.
There are some motorists who actually believe that cyclists should be off the roads. They should be educated to share the roads in a safe manner within Bukit Batok.
We should educate cyclists to ride safely on the roads, keep left, observe traffic rules, use safety gear, etc. I know of many cyclists who are completely ignorant of the fact that pavements are off limits. This is partially due to the very lax enforcement by the authorities, which seem to have a live and let live attitude instead. But we are sending the wrong message with this attitude.
We should educate pedestrians too. Even to give way to recalcitrant cyclists, as there will always be those who will ride on pavement for their own selfish safety as against riding on the road. Though it’s wrong, they prefer to accept the risks without considering the danger to others.
I remember when I took my driving tests decades ago; the emphasis was always “Pedestrian First”. Their safety is of utmost priority, even when they may be in the wrong like jaywalking or crossing against their favour. Flesh against metal is a no win situation.
I appreciate your time in reading my rather long feedback. For everyone’s safety, I believe that sustained and persistent education, coupled with the proper facilities you have built, will result in a safer environment for all in Bukit Batok.
I attached a sample video of a safe cycling programme.
I attached a sample video of a safe cycling programme.