Author Archives: Francis

Legalise pedestrian priority on footpath

By Francis Chu, Ex-member of AMAP

Archive / Generic – A man seen dismount and push his e-scooter while using the pedestrian crossing along Bishan Street 11 on March 6, 2018. Photo: Koh Mui Fong/TODAY

Legalise pedestrian priority on footpath

When government legalised cycling and riding PMD on pavement, they should simultaneously give legal priority to pedestrians on the same pathway.  After all, pavement or footpath were originally designed for walking. Cyclists and PMD riders are essentially a “guest”, borrowing the path from the pedestrians, to avoid the danger on road.

Ambiguity (of the right of way on pavement) caused confusion, and that increases the chances of accidents. 
If all riders simply give ways to pedestrians, chances of accidents will be drastically reduced.                 – Francis Chu  2018-12-17


Over the last few years, due to the lack of clear priority for pedestrians, some selfish (fast) riders feel that they have equal right and demand pedestrians to give way. Such mindset is the root cause of many unnecessary accidents. 
I agree with the readers of TODAY newspaper (2018-12-17), that “registration of e-scooters and penalties are not enough as safeguards for pedestrian safety”


We need to establish clarity in law that pedestrians has the priority on pavement and walkway. In cases of any accident between device rider and pedestrian, the rider has to face the legal consequence, unless he/she can prove the accident is totally not caused by him/her.

https://www.todayonline.com/voices/registration-e-scooters-and-penalties-not-enough-safeguards-pedestrian-safety

Allow PMD riders to use the road

Another useful idea to improve safety of pedestrian is to allow PMD riders to have the flexibility to use the road when it is safe, just as cyclists do.  The current rules disallow PMD to ride on all roads even when there is no traffic. This is effectively forcing the (PMD) danger on pedestrians unnecessary. This is illogical especially when considering some PMD looks and ride exactly like a eBike, and eBike has to use the road!

Who should give way at Pedestrian crossing?

Who should give way at the Pedestrian crossing? The driver or the pedestrian?
I’m not joking, this is a genuine question.

20 years ago when I first came to Singapore, it was very clear-cut. At zebra crossing the pedestrian is king. Motorists would slow down and give way to people who is crossing or prepare to cross. However, over the years, the protection offered by the pedestrian crossing seems deteriorated.  You are now STRONGLY ADVISED to STOP and check, to make sure the cars have stopped before crossing.

On the other hand, some drivers are showing little respect to pedestrian crossing. e.g.

  • It is common to see cars encroach and block the zebra crossing.
  • At traffic intersection, impatient drivers cut in between crossing pedestrians to make a right turn.


Some drivers drive through as people waiting at zebra crossing.    video credit: Boonchun

Such disrespect to the pedestrian crossing may have been “legitimised” by a recent communication from LTA.

Stop before crossing zebra

Given the deteriorated driving culture, the first part of the message is not wrong. Couple with the graphical images it almost sound like a death threat.

Taking simple precautions while riding your devices in public can help save lives. Riders, stay safe on the road by sparing a few seconds to stop and check that it is safe before crossing.

However, the second part of the message is worrying:

Motorist can also play a part in exercising patience, slowing down and looking out for pedestrians, cyclists and PMD riders at crossings before driving.

This make it sounds as if the driver’s part is optional. Is this a reflection of the reality, or does LTA really believe the driver should not play the dominant role in road safety?

Famous local blogger Mr. Brown posted in FaceBook yesterday:

This is why drivers often almost kill pedestrians at zebra crossings. The Land Transport Authority tells pedestrians to “Stop. Look. Cross.” while telling drivers they can just “Slow. Check. Drive.”

When in reality, the onus should be on drivers to “Slow the Heck Down. Stop. Look. Look Again. Then Drive.”

……..

Of course we are responsible for our personal safety, and we must teach our kids things like don’t look at their phones while crossing roads, and so on. But the law must always protect the weaker users first. The hammer must always come down harder on the person wielding the vehicle that can kill.

……

Van almost hit student at zebra crossing.

The recent episodes remind me of a controversial case in 2015.

Pedestrians with right of way ‘must still share responsibility’

Is crossing at green man really safe? Or jaywalk safer?

Even if the lights are in their favour, pedestrians still have to check for oncoming traffic.

This was held in a rare 2-1 Court of Appeal decision in which the Chief Justice dissented.

Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Justice Quentin Loh, who were in the majority, explained their reasoning by highlighting a Highway Code rule that requires pedestrians to be on the alert.

“Pedestrians should take charge of their own safety,” the court said in judgment grounds issued on Thursday, and decided the injured victim in the case before it was 15 per cent to blame despite having the right of way.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who wrote a separate view explaining his objections, said the ruling means

“that pedestrians will no longer be able to take comfort in the fact that they are crossing at a point controlled by a police officer or by traffic lights”.

“They will have to safeguard themselves in precisely the same manner in such circumstances as if they were jaywalking.”

Indeed, if the rule of law is so powerless, what’s the meaning of traffic rules and priority?

I’m not expert in law, but since young, my mother told me “must follow the law” because only bad guy breaks the law. As a layman, I understand the law is a clear reference to judge what is right or wrong.

One of the recent Active Mobility Advisory Panel recommendation is to introduce mandatory stop for cyclists and PMD users before they cross a pedestrian crossing, while drivers were only strongly encouraged to slow down and check.

I have difficulty to understand, why this new law stress that people who need to cross the road MUST STOP and check in order to protect themselves, while the driver, who can get others hurt, were only encouraged to SLOW down, check and drive? 

What if there is no car in sight and I just run/cycle/scoot across the zebra without stopping, will I break the law?

What if a driver “SLOW” down from 50kph to 49kph and dash across the zebra while people waiting to cross, is that OK?

Such statement in law send a conflicting and dangerous message to the average driver and which may legitimise an aggressive driving culture.

Refining the Mandatory Helmet Law (MHL) in Singapore

It is not as simple as “Helmet saves lives”.

Mandating helmet wearing does not prevent accidents on the road, yet it comes with side-effects that can have a negative impact on cycling in general.

How can we reduce the negative impact of the new Mandatory Helmet Law while saving the high-risk cyclists during an accident?

______________________________________________

Ideas that help to refine the MHL:

  • Limit MHL for Sporty road bikes on roads with speed limit above 50km/h.
  • Exempt Share bike, Folding bikes, MTB, Upright sitting bikes, or any Non-Sport Road bikes from the MHL. They may choose to wear or not to wear helmet freely.
  • in addition, enhance education targeted at young cyclists.

______________________________________________

 

Helmet wearing and Helmet laws are hot topics in any cycling forum. There is a heated debate with strong opinions on both sides. In any case, introducing the MHL (Mandatory helmet law) is not as simple as “Helmet saves lives”. There are implications and “side effects” which can severely limit the initial intent of protecting the cyclists.

There is a significant difference between “Advice”, and “Mandating by law”, to wear a helmet while cycling on roads.
The former, “Advisory”, allows a person to exercise his or her own freedom to decide when and where it is necessary to wear or not to wear a helmet. The latter, “Mandatory”, limits the freedom when the individual feels it is really unnecessary to do so.

Up to 2018, cyclists are advised to wear a helmet when cycling on roads but it is not mandatory. As a result, both types of cyclists exist on the roads.

Every weekend, it is easy to spot groups of sports cyclists wearing helmets on their long-distance training rides along Mandai Road, Upper Thomson Road, or Tanah Merah Coast road.

On the other hand, much less obvious yet every day, there are numerous bicycle users in all parts of Singapore riding a bicycle or share bikes without a helmet. These include all walks of lives from young to old. They are usually slow riders and mostly ride on the sidewalks. However, from time to time, they also need to ride on the roads when it is safe and more convenient to do so.

From Traffic Police statistics, the yearly fatal road accidents involving bicycles and eBikes were below 20. It is a concern yet this figure is not particularly worse than in any other city. Cyclists not wearing a helmet and received fatal head injuries are not reported, it is estimated that the number is well below 10.

In a way, admitting that there is no better way to improve the road safety for cycling, the Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP) recommended the “Mandatory Helmet Law” on August 24th. On September 3rd, the recommendation was subsequently accepted by the Minister of Transport.

Accepting this fact, I wonder if there are ways to optimise the upcoming MHL in order to address the key safety issues of on-road cycling and to reduce potential negative “side effects” of cycling promotion in Singapore.

 

The issue: 

On roads, cyclists travel alongside larger and faster vehicles and are the most vulnerable users.  – 2018-8-24, AMAP

The intention: 

In the event of an accident, wearing a protective helmet would reduce the impact and injuries suffered by the rider.  -2018-08-24, AMAP

The key limitations of MHL: 

  1. The helmet issue is a Red-Herring: The cyclist’s vulnerability on road is NOT due to lack of helmet wearing, instead, it is due to the lack of safe infrastructure (e.g. dual exit lanes to the Expressway) and dangerous behaviour of both drivers and cyclists (e.g. Using handphone while driving or cycling, driver overtaking within the same lane as the cyclist, cyclists riding too fast and too near the curb with an uneven surface). The helmet issue distracts the public from the real solutions we need to implement to prevent accidents from happening.
  2. Lack of data support: Cycling on road is not new. If cyclists on road are at greater risk, we should have local accident data to support the MHL. So far, there is no data showing on-road, non-helmeted cyclists receiving head injuries. Excluding the helmeted eBikes and Sports cyclists, the total number of cyclists involved in road accidents is not very high.
  3. International benchmark: out of 195 countries, Australia and NewZealand are the only ones to have countrywide Mandatory Helmet Law. Ironically, both countries tend to suffer from high cyclist fatality rate on roads and also lower bicycle usage.
  4. On the contrary, countries with high bicycle usage and good safety records don’t need MHL. A few examples are The NetherlandsDenmarkJapan, Taiwan, China, UK, Germany.
  5. Share bike: Share bike has quickly become an important mode of transport over the last couple of years. In many areas, such as Joo Chiat and Sembawang, the cycling/walkway network is limited, most share bike users need to ride on the road. Having the MHL means that they will have to carry a helmet all the time just in case they may need to use the Share bike.
  6. Slow cyclistThe vast majority of local bicycle users are slow cyclists like those “uncles” riding to a nearby market for a “kopi” or a mother bringing her kids to school. For safety, they usually cycle on walkways, which may appear that the MHL won’t affect them. However, in practice, most of them need to ride on the road for 10-30% of their usual trips. This is due to disconnections between walkways and shared paths. The MHL would force them to carry a helmet for the daily trip, which they have been doing for decades safely without a helmet.
  7. Reckless youngsters: There are a number of young riders nowadays who cycles on the roads quite recklessly. Given the way they are riding on or off roads, in an accident, the injury would bound to be serious or fatal. The MHL may reduce their risk of suffering from head injuries, but it will not shield them from other serious and fatal injuries. Education target at this group to increase their awareness will be more effective to improve their safety.
  8. Sports cyclist: This is another high-risk group due to their speed and proximity to fast traffics. Every weekend, it is easy to spot groups of sports cyclists along Mandai Road, Upper Thomson Road, or Tanah Merah Coast road. MHL will have no impact on Sports Cyclists because nearly all of them are already wearing a helmet without the law.

Refining the MHL: 

Going through the list above, the upcoming MHL is likely to have a negative impact for Share bike (4) and Slow cyclist (5), but it will have no negative impact for Sports cyclists (7). Perhaps it would make sense to target the MHL at the Sports cyclist but not the Share bike users and slow cyclists?

A couple of ideas that helps to refine the MHL:

  • Limit MHL for Sporty road bikes on roads with speed limit above 50km/h
  • Limit MHL for Sporty road bikes on roads with speed limit above 50km/h.
  • Exempt Share bike, Folding bikes, MTB, Upright sitting bikes, or any Non-Sport Road bikes from the MHL. They may choose to wear or not to wear a helmet freely.
  • in addition, enhance education targeted at young cyclists.

Besides MHL, there is a lot that can be done to improve the safety of road cycling more effectively:

e.g. 1.5 meter rule, 40km/h CBD and residential area, Mandatory stop before STOP LINE, Educate the lorry drivers, Refreshment courses for driving instructors, etc. It is disappointing that the only recommendation AMAP put forward this time is to put a helmet on road cyclists. I hope that the next time, they can shift their attention to the motorist community and environmental factors which are the major factors for cyclist’s safety.

Fundamentally, I believe road safety and cyclist’s safety should be improved by coherent policies, which support health, the environment, and without the legal requirement to wear a helmet.

Follow the conversation on FaceBook:

Reflection on the 2016 AMAP recommendation

The Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP) has been instrumental in introducing cycling and PMD as a viable mode of transport for the public. For example, allowing the bicycle to be used on walkways helps many slow cyclists to avoid the risk from cars, which is possible after AMAP’s first recommendation in 2016. For that, I’m truly grateful and proud of being part of it.

However, in the midst of pushing for Active Mobility, I, as part of the AMAP members, had underestimated the stress and risks imposed on the pedestrians walking on the pavement.

This has led to a significant increase in the number of reported accidents involving PMDs, bicycles and power-assisted bicycles (PABs) on public paths, from 19 in 2015 to 42 in 2016 and to 128 in 2017. A number of them have resulted in serious injuries.  –  REVIEW OF ACTIVE MOBILITY REGULATIONS FOR SAFER PATH SHARING (2018-08-24)

Move towards a car-lite nation After eight months (EIGHT MONTHS!!) of work, this is the best a 14-member advisory panel could come up with -- otherwise known as:

The Stupidest Proposal. Ever. Chew On It! 2016-03

For pedestrian’s safety, it is stated in the Code of Conduct (COC) that bicycle and PMD riders should slow down when they approach the pedestrian. However, some riders ignore the COC because it is just an advisory (optional) and they tend to focus only on the (mandatory) law (15 km/h) and Regulation (20kg/25km/700mm).

The law is often a clear reference when a layman judge what is (morally) right or wrong.

Some riders take it as their entitled “right” to go at “legal speed limit” and demand the pedestrians to give way as they ring the bell. In case of an accident, these riders blame the pedestrian for unexpected movement, leaving them “no time to react”. However, they never admit the risk was created by themselves because they did not slow down when approaching the pedestrians.

I feel we need to protect the pedestrian by law.

On reflection, it was not logical to legally allow a new group of fast device riders on the pavement, without demanding the riders to control their device in order not to harm the public.

I was disappointed regarding the recent AMAP recommendations for walkways, which only suggested to lower the speed limit, but didn’t take the opportunity to address the issue of the legal requirement for responsible riding on the walkway.

Having said that, I must admit what AMAP in Singapore has done is very pioneering and groundbreaking. As far as I know, no another developed country has made it legal for adults to ride on the walkway, riders really need to treat this as a special privileged and to give priority to pedestrians who are more vulnerable. It is understandable that such a radical measure which has never been tried before may take some time to get right.

More thoughts on 2018 AMAP recommendations:

  1. Lower the speed limit on the pavement from 15km/h to 10km/h
  2. Mandatory for AM device users to stop and look out at road crossings before riding across at a slow speed

Follow the conversation on Facebook

Slow cycling training – a critical skill for safe cycling on foot paths

2017 LCSG bike handling and servicing workshop at East Coast Park

2017 LCSG bike handling and servicing workshop at East Coast Park

“How to cycle safely on foot path?”

This one of the most frequent asked question from new riders joining our Sunday rides. To be frank, no one want to hurt others but due to the inability to control their bike, new riders fear they may hurt others unintentionally. Observation over the years, I come to the conclusion that bike handling at slow speed is the key skill that every cyclist should acquire before they venture into footpath and sharing the space with pedestrians. I believe most accidents involve cyclists on foot path is due to the inability of controlling the bike at slow speed, or lack of awareness of blindspots. Such cyclists need to ride at speed in order to keep their balance, even when they approach pedestrians or blindspots.

Slow cycling skill is not rocket science and can be learn fairly easily. It can be a fun personal challenge to see “how slow you can ride”.

Last week, with the support of NPark and OCBC, Lovecycling SG organised a “Slow bike handling skill workshop” at the Road safety park at the East Coast Park. Encik George Lim, the master trainer, guide the participants through a number of small challenges; started from stopping your bike, riding along a straight line, S-course and Zigzag course to riding the 888 challenge.

At the end of the training, to test if everyone is ready to share paths with pedestrian, we throw in an “acid test” –  simulation of a kid running randomly in the group of slow riding cyclists and see if everyone can avoid any accident. Sounds dangerous? Not really.

See for yourself here:

If you are interested in the step by step approach, here is a three minutes video summary:

More details of the entire workshop which include a bike servicing part can be found on Taiwoon’s blog.

 

 

AMK cycling town phase 1 + Round island Route

July 9, 2016 Singapore

Singapore is one more step closer to become a bicycle friendly city. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced two important cycling infrastructure that will make cycling in Singapore easier, safer and more enjoyable:

Artist impression of Round Island Route  Photo: NPark

Artist impression of Round Island Route Photo: NPark

Short video showing the RIR (Source: NPark)

1. Round Island Route (ST news)

In the early Saturday morning, PM Lee planted a tree at the Sengkang Riverside Park, commemorating the start of phase one of the Round Island Route (RIR), an idea conceptualised in 2011. Construction work on the first 60km of a 150km continuous green trail that will go around Singapore will start at the end of the year. This is an ambitious project to enhance connectivity and create new recreational spaces for cyclists and park goers all around Singapore.

2. AMK model cycling town (ST news)


Some of the innovative features to increase the safety of all users. Video: URA

A slip road was removed at the junction of Ang Mo Kio Avenues 1 and 3 to make way for a cycling path. PHOTO: LTA

A slip road was removed at the junction of Ang Mo Kio Avenues 1 and 3 to make way for a cycling path. PHOTO: LTA

Later in the morning, after riding through a new 4km “red-carpet” cycling path, PM Lee announced the completion of the first phase of AMK Cycling town network. This officially initiated the transformation of Ang Mo Kio into a model cycling and walking town. Estimated by 2019, a total of 20km of cycling paths will be completed to connect to most parts of AMK town. Innovative ideas including the distinctive red-colour paths, safer crossing and elevated share path under the MRT viaduct are to be piloted in AMK. If all are good, future cycling town will adopt the innovative ideas.

Perhaps more important is to see the number of senior level politicians and government agents (URA, LTA, NPark, HDB, Finance) who are actively involved on stage or behind the scene. This is a clear sign showing that there is strong alignment within the government to realise the car-lite vision.

Facebook post by PM Lee Hsien Loong.
Facebook post by LTA
Facebook post about RIR in LoveCyclingSG
Facebook post about AMK cycling town in LoveCyclingSG

AMK new cycling town phase one getting ready for use

AMK cycling path (image: URA)

AMK cycling path (image: URA)

At the end of 2014, during the “Clean and Green Singapore 2015” event, PM Lee announced that he will take up the challenge to turn Ang Mo Kio into the “next generation cycling town with innovative infrastructure” to facilitate more people to use bicycle as a mode of transport. True enough, we visited the first phase of the cycling network and it is indeed a big improvement over the previous standard from Tampines.

Some of the significant improvements:

  • cycling paths are all in a distinctive reddish color, make it clear which is supposed to be the cycling path.
  • The path stop before area with high pedestrian traffic, such as bus stop, or road crossing, signal that cyclist should slow down and check for safety before proceeding.
  • Hump up road crossing at minor road junctions helps to slow down the cars before the crossing, makes it much easier for all road users to look out for each other before entering the crossing.

More details of the AMK cycling town in the the news.

Discussion on FaceBook about the news.

 

DIY Aero Ride

The idea of Aero-Ride is inspired by Aeolian Ride (details in the video). We keep the original elements of fun, love of biking,  a sense of humour, silliness. Now instead of using white fabric, we re-use waste plastic bags to construct the inflatable costume. It turns out that the thin plastic material is easier to inflate and has many possibilities to create many different shapes.

Below is a step by step illustration to show how to construct a simple Aero.

Aero-DIY-1

Get a used plastic bag with a width larger than your shoulder.

Aero-DIY-2

Chop off the handles

Aero-DIY-3

expand and flatten the bag

Aero-DIY-4

mark out two holes (shaded area) with at least 10 cm wider than the shoulder of your T-shirt

Aero-DIY-5

cut out the holes

Aero-DIY-6

use a tape to reinforce the holes, so that it won’t be teared apart easily

Aero-DIY-7

both holes applied reinforcement tapes

Aero-DIY-8

roll up the edge. use tapes to keep the rolled edge.

Aero-DIY-9

reverse the plastic bag, stick the centre to top of a cap.

Aero-DIY-10

test the effect using a fan

Aero-DIY-11

congrats, you’ve made your own Aero. You are ready for Aero Ride!

Here is a short video showing our test ride

 

Launch of Safe Riders Campaign in Car Free Day

There are many activities suitable for everyone from young to old. You will see the Civic area as well as part of CBD transformed into a fun area, totally different from a normal day filled with cars.

You can choose to cycle, run, or walk along the large CBD loop from 7-10am, or the shorter Civic loop from 7-12 noon. Fitness lover can join the fitness party or outdoor yoga at Empress Lawn.

Kids can have lots of funs to play football at Connaught Drive, join a fun race or play frisbee in Esplanade park.

There are also a range of cultural activities and performance offer by the National Gallery as well various groups including a number of walking trails. For details please download this pdf file _CarFreeDay activities 2016-04-24

Road closure plan, Red: Civic loop, Blue: CBD loopRoad closure plan, Red: Civic loop, Blue: CBD loop