AMAP was formed in 2015 and specifically tasked to come up with regulations/guidelines to facilitate safe sharing of public pathways.
As announced in March 2015, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) intends to develop a clear set of rules and norms to facilitate the use of footpaths and cycling paths safely and harmoniously. For this purpose, it has set up an advisory panel comprising 14 representatives from key stakeholder groups, such as seniors, youth, grassroots, cyclists, motorists, and users of personal mobility devices to propose a set of rules and norms for active mobility.
No doubt legalising cycling on pavements greatly extended the usefulness of bicycles and allow many elderly riders to avoid risky roads without breaking the law. This is a ‘Great leap’ of cycling in Singapore.
However the proposed regulation was not sufficient or accurate to address the safety issues.
Within two years, by 2017, reported accidents shot up 7 folds from 19 to 128 (some fatal cases) only on off-road paths
The root cause of these accidents is irresponsible riding, such as speeding while overtaking.
In a Facebook post, AMAP member Steven Lim defended the new speed limit of 10 kph, suggesting the only options are a total ban or reduce the speed limit. But this is not true.
Fixing a 10km/h speed limit is not the best solution. Riding on share path with pedestrians require dynamic skill, you can go faster when there is clearly no one around, but you need to slow down to walking speed or even stop, in order to ensure the safety of others. Riding responsibly requires a “pedestrian first” attitude. Respecting pedestrian’s safety and right of way, always.
In 2016, legalising bicycle and PMD riding on sidewalk should have come with legal protection for pedestrians. Riders must respect the safety of pedestrians and give way in order to have the privilege of riding on pavement.
After so many accidents and innocent deaths, the review of AMAP rules in 2018 was the best opportunity to address this omission. But unfortunately, with the new laws (10kph speed limit), pedestrians still don’t have priority, nor legal protection on the pavement.
Even today, an irresponsible rider hitting an elderly or young kid can claim they were riding at 10kph and blame the victim for ‘suddenly get into my way’.
On the other hand, responsible riders who always give way to pedestrians have to worry if they are breaking the new law by riding above the unsustainable slow speed on many empty path.
I hope AMAP will reflect on the process that led to the current, undesirable state. The ability to self-reflect is important for making any meaningful progress.
More reflection on AMAP law 2018