Great minds think the same

Blincclip vs Flectr Clip

In the creative industry, it is not uncommon to find examples of “Great minds think the same”. Our recent project Blincclip reflector and the Flectr Clip reflector can be one of such example.

Many veterans of LoveCyclingSG would remember the “Safety Flag” project back in 2011. It was an attempt to create something that will increase the visibility of cyclists on roads. High visibility allows motorists to spot a cyclist from far and gives times for adjustment and avoidant action.

I reported about the reflective flag at that time:
“The fact that it flaps in the wind also add to the attention-grabbing effect.”

When I chat about the “Safety flat” project with David Jonathan, a recent Product Design graduate from NAFA (Singapore), he was intrigued and want to work together to turn it into a commercial product. That’s how Blinnclip, the first blinking reflector was born.

We worked with the cycling community when we produced our test version. The result was encouraging and we decided to move on to launch the project on Kickstarter. We scheduled and communicated the project to be launched on the 13th of November, 2019, but due to some delay, we shifted to one day later. To our surprises, another Kickstarter project call Flectr Clip, very similar to Blincclip was launched on the same day (Nov. 13th). So we are effectively one day later. That caused some backers to question the originality of Blincclip.

I would like to make clear here that we developed the idea independently. Anyone familiar with product development would understand it is impossible to copy and launch a product within one day.
Furthermore, Blincclip was published first internationally on 2019-11-02 by Bicycle Design and further picked up by a major magazine Cycling Tips on 2019-11-04. A simple Google of “Blincclip” and “Flectr Clip” will demonstrate Blincclip appeared earlier in public domain.

Here are the links to both projects on Kickstarter:
Blincclip : The first blinking super-bright reflector
FLECTR CLIP | Your ultimate protector in the darkness

Does AMAP need to review its process?

The Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP) was formed in 2015 and specifically tasked to come up with regulations/guidelines to facilitate the safe sharing of public pathways. I was very excited to be invited as one of the founding members.

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.

Inaccurate rules lead to dangerous pathways

However, the proposed rules are not “accurate” enough to address safety issues.  Within three years, reported accidents shot up 12 folds from 19 to 225 cases on off-road paths. The root cause of these accidents is irresponsible riding, such as speeding while overtaking.

One example of the “inaccurate rules” is the new speed limit of 10 km/h on the pavement. 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 an accurate solution. The accurate rule should demand (bicycle and PMD) riders to give way to pedestrian unconditionally. If necessary, slow down or stop to make sure both are safe. This is because riding on share path mixing with pedestrians require dynamic skill, you may 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.

IMHO, in 2016, legalising bicycle and PMD riding on the sidewalk should have come with legal protection for pedestrians. In exchange the privilege of riding on pavement, riders must respect the safety of pedestrians, slow down and give way. Unfortunately, the AMAP rules didn’t include giving pedestrian priority on footpath nor shared paths.

After 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 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 unrealistic slow speed on many empty paths.

Above is only one example of several inaccurate rules. A few other examples are:

  • Disallow PMD on footpaths /PCN, while allowing eBike and bicycle on road. This means time-stressed PMD riders have not other options.
  • Mandating cyclists and pedestrians to stop before the pedestrian crossing but not demanding the same on drivers, likely to encourage more dangerous driving dashing across ped-crossing. And the latest,
  • introducing a “Code of conduct” for walking on footpath and PCN, that is likely to shift more blames to pedestrians in any accidents.

There must be a good reason why the panel keeps coming up with inaccurate rules. One reason I guess is that most members are driving or taking public transport. They are not using a bicycle nor PMD on the pavement as a daily commuting tool. Therefore their perceived problems and solutions can be far from reality.

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

Does 10km/h ensure safety on footpaths?

In theory, a 10km/h speed limit will ensure safety on the footpaths. Yes, in theory. However, in practice, this is not the same as the proponents imagine.
There are key challenges to achieve the universal complaint of the 10km/h speed limit:

  • 1- Most riders (e.g. bicycle) don’t carry a reliable speedometer, how are they going to know if they are riding at what speed?
  • 2- How to enforce the speed limit when there are so many riders not knowing their travelling speed everywhere? Is it even possible to enforce 24/7?
  • 3- When an accident happened. What can you do if the rider insists he/she didn’t exceed the speed limit?
  • 4- There were “black sheep” riders who didn’t obey the previous 15 km/h speed limit, why should they follow the new one?
  • 5- On an empty footpath with no one else, it is really necessary to ride at 10 km/h?

In reality, every experienced rider knows, the key factor to ensure pedestrians’ safety is not only the device speed but the person who control the device. For sharing of the footpath/pavement in Singapore, there are 2 difference school of thoughts:

A) All people should be given the same right regardless of which device they use, bicycle, PMD or just walk. It is fair and the pathway should be shared equally.
– B) People who are more vulnerable/slower should be given priority.

(A) Equal priority for all path users
In this case, both walker and rider (bicycle and PMD) are given the same priority. In this case, the rider feels all walkers are blocking their way. Therefore many riders are frustrated because they feel entitled to go at the “legal speed” 10km/h on the footpath, but most case can’t due to the slower walkers.
Walker feels at constant risk because they are supposed to look out for riders coming from their back. It is not possible to keep an eye at your back while you are walking.

The result: both groups feel frustrated, the walker group feel endangered, and that is the current situation since 2016 AMAP allowing bicycle and PMD on pavements, without explicitly assigning priority to any group.

(B) Pedestrian given priority over PMD and bicycle
In case (B), the rider must slow down when approaching walker. A rider can only overtake when it is safe and not disturbing walkers. 
The rider feels it is a privilege to use the walking path which was originally only for walkers. No harm to give way to walkers.
The walker doesn’t need to worry about riders, just walk as there are no riders intruding their path. 
If Rider feels unfair, he can step-down and “upgrade” himself to become a walker. Then he has the equal right just as a fellow walker.

The result: harmonious sharing of pathways between the faster group and the slower group because the slower group is given priority and protection of the law.

Safety in practice
Thanks to PMD rider Tend Wong, here is an excellent video demonstrating how case (2) would look like, it captured a lot of examples on how to ride in a responsible manner and give the pedestrians priority.

– How to approach pedestrians?
– How to slow down when approaching bus-stop (a lot of blind spots)?
– How to engage pedestrians if the path is narrow?
– How to slow down when there are walkers blocking the way?
– When can you speed up safely?

Clearly, the 10km/h speed limit is not a practical solution.
Riding on share path with pedestrians is a dynamic skill, you can go faster when there is 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.

The AMAP law should define “pedestrian priority on the pavement”, and the dangerous riders violated this rule will have to be fined or even jailed.

Such a “pedestrian first” law will protect vulnerable pedestrians. It doesn’t affect the majority of safe riders, yet it will increase the opportunity cost for those “black sheep” riders.

Read more: Does AMAP need to review it process?

Issues facing cyclists on Singapore road

Excellent article about cycling in Singapore, insightful and balance. Lots of valid points.

Thanks to Google translate, here is the English version:
————- Start ————-
Date: 2019-01-20

“Since I started riding bicycles four years ago, many of my friends have heard that I have been riding on the road often. I was always asked with a strange look: “You are riding on the road, it is not dangerous? There are many cars on the road at high speed. You rely on a pair of feet, don’t you worry about hitting by the car?”

Of cause it is a concern. I have been riding more than 10,000 km so far. Although I have been harassed, insulted and even in danger of car accidents by unreasonable drivers several times, I am glad that there have been no traffic accidents. Although most motorists will treat each other with courtesy, occasionally there will be news of someone being hit by a reckless driver.

Indeed, the cyclists are relatively disadvantaged, because most of them will not install a camera, and cannot record the bullying behaviour that happens from time to time. When the driver slammed on the accelerator, the cyclist couldn’t catch up, let alone record the licensee’s license plate and report it to the authorities.

On the contrary, almost all cars now install the camera in front of and behind the car, thus greatly increasing the probability of their inclusion and uploading of video. Although there are “black sheep” amongst cyclists, based on the disparity between the motorists and cyclists, it is easy to cause the illusion that “the bicycle rider often violates the rules”, making many law-abiding cyclists innocently affected, being regarded as “lawbreaker” by some extreme drivers.

This inequality is invisible to non-cyclists because as a weak and a few bicycle riders, the voice will often be overwhelmed by the majority of non-cyclists. Regrettably, this majority group also includes decision makers who make regulations.

We’ve heard many disputes between bicycle riders and car drivers. Those who have not caused accidents and casualties may also go to court. In the Internet age, because of the aforementioned reasons, the prejudice against the cyclists, as a minority group, can easily become the target of public attack.

For example, regarding the requirement that the cyclists must ride on the left edge of the road, it is easy to become too generalise, and all the cyclists who are not riding on the left edge are regarded as illegal. 
Since the rules are dead, traffic conditions are dynamic. Under what circumstances is it considered to be “obstructing traffic”? If it is during non-peak hours, traffic is smooth and there are no heavy traffic on the road, there are two or more lanes for drivers to overtake. Does the bicycle rider still have to keep the rules of “only on the far left side of the road”?

For safety reasons, if you force the cyclists to ride only on the far left side of the road, it not only reducing the visibility of the cyclists on the road, it will also cause the cyclists to enter the blind spots of those motorists turning into the left.

Many people don’t know that when a heavy vehicle passes a bicycle rider at a high speed (within the same lane), the impulse may cause the rider to lose balance and steer to the roadside curb, or fall into the drain. Therefore, such a rigid regulation sometimes indirectly increases the probability of a traffic accident.

Regrettably, some netizens who hate the cyclists seem to believe that the road should give the priority to four-wheelers (because they pay the most road tax), insist that they have the absolute right of way, and that if “violators” (referring to the cyclists) get into accident with cars, it is their own fault.

As a shared infrastructure, every road user (including pedestrians), regardless of whether or not there is a road tax, should have equal rights to use the road. Since the four-wheeled vehicle has the largest volume, the fastest speed, and the strongest lethality, it is better to give other road users a courtesy than to treat other people as second-class citizens.

It is very unhealthy to use “road tax” to determine road rights. It also shows that the local road culture needs to be improved. 
Frequent revision of more stringent regulations targeted at the cyclists clearly is not a cure.

Instead of being entangled in who is right and who is wrong, whoever has the right to pass, decision makers and road users may have to explore how to cultivate a road culture that allows everyone to respect each other and give priority to safety.
————– End —————–

Dangerous overtake by lorry

Post by Raymond Khoo 09-01-2019

Has recent bias media coverage encourage drivers to deliberately try to kill people?”

This can be a “Visible education on how the driver should behave around other vulnerable road users such as cyclist and motorcyclist should be seen more often or promoted through safety campaign. The vague signage such as “beware of cyclist” and poorly design safety advert can be easily misinterpreted by road users.

Typical drivers give sufficient space. I really appreciate they do that with graciousness and patience. However, this sufficient space can be 1.5m, 1m or can be 50 or 30cm depending on the driver. Personally, I feel at least 1m distance away from the edge of my handlebar is safe. And occasionally very dangerously they decide to show you who is boss, pushing you off the road. 

When you meet them down the road, nicely tell them it is dangerous for them to do that, you always get stupid excuse.. you got no mirror, you never pay road tax, you think you motorcycle, I never hit you what. So it is kinda pointless to point out their wrong doing or unsafe behavior.

This is unacceptable, and the law should be set in place to protect normal road users.

I believe majority of cyclist here just want to cycle safely and are not targeting any Strava record and want to get home safe to family and friends.

Another aspect of this, from my observation and experience over the years riding, drivers tend bully single / lone rider more often than larger cyclist group either due to cyclists road presence or it is psychologically harder to bully a bigger group.


Greg and his folding bike

Published with the permission from Greg Choong

First TGIF in 2019..! So much drama in the community leading into the new year, I’m sure some good will come out of it.

After adopting cycling first for so many years into my career, I found that it wasn’t impossible. I drove less and now I have no name on any valid COE, and when I started off, there was no Uber, no Grab, just taxis when you needed most and they weren’t around for you, so to stop driving was a pain.

The only decent exercise I had during my jet setting years was the hotel gym, never liked it coz i felt like a mice running on some silly stationary thingy. Then I started to fly with my bike and traded gym with fantastic city cycling, never looked back.

Those were easy but what I was fearing if I could push it further by cycling into meeting rooms, in some foreign countries where cycling wasn’t perceived for people with suit, I pondered. I shouldn’t, I remember when I first rode into one, I made friends with the receptionists, never knew they were more interesting people than me. Love it when they first asked me for their parcels whahahaha. And the people in the meeting room started to doze off less as they were pretty amused by my folded bike sitting beside the projector screen. I had their attention for sure, including my presentations whahahaha. And it was more fun during breaks when they had more questions about my bike than my products, and still bought my products in the end  😉

Over time when most of my biz partners understand why I ride, funny thing they also started riding themselves, to the point that when they visited me in SG, they demanded I bring them cycling. Of coz I brought them to our hawker centres too, we ditched the China Clubs, they never complained as they were distracted by our beautiful side of the city they never knew, from some who visit SG so frequently for so many years, I was laughing.

I’m glad Uber/Grab came into the scene and there are more options not to own or drive which made these riding even more plausible. You should try some day, it’s possible, even in sunny SG, my meetings have moved to outdoor and into PCNs or Starbucks that allow me to park my bikes comfortable, my fav one is located near MBS. You don’t miss air-con much, even in colder countries, you don’t miss heating too coz I hardly feel cold when I’m on the move.

So don’t perceive cycling are for leisures, or NTUC grocery ride, they can of coz, they are equally good to be included as part of your corporate/working lifestyle.

????, give it a try. Ride safe and ride far my friends! Happy New Year!

Long vehicle is a death trap

Sometimes cyclists blame the lorry driver for a dangerous act but instead, it can be totally unintentional. One example is to do with the long vehicles. Long vehicles such as buses, heavy goods vehicles or container trucks are very dangerous for cyclists. As cyclists, we should try to stay away from these long vehicles as much as possible.

The driver of a long vehicle has a lot of blind spots to take care of, it is not easy for him/her to detect all of their surroundings. When long vehicles make a turn, the front truck has to make a wide turn and the rear trailer will get very close or even hitting the curb. A cyclist riding next to such long vehicle can be easily trapped in a “death zone” when the truck is making a turn. The driver would not even notice until it is too late. Here is a short animation showing how this can happen within a couple of seconds:

Cyclist hit by left turning trailer

Next time if you see a long vehicle approaching a junction, better stay back and wait for it to clear before proceeding as in the video below. It can save your life.

Cyclist wait for the trailer to clear the turn before proceeding

How do motorists and cyclists misunderstand each other (2)?

Continuing from the first article, this second part is to illustrate another misunderstanding – cyclists riding two abreast.

Many motorists consider cyclists riding two abreast as “selfishly blocking the whole lane”. Some of us cyclists are drivers too and we do understand it can be frustrating to follow a group of cyclist. However, there must be a reason why the RTA (Road Traffic Act) allows cyclists to ride two abreast. In fact, there is a very good reason, and it is not only safer for the cyclist but is also more convenient for the motorist.

Consider the following scenario, a car sharing a traffic lane with 4 cyclists travelling as a group. If the 4 cyclists are riding in single file, it is tempting for a driver to overtake within the same lane even though this is not the right way to do. Trying to “squeeze” to overtake within the same lane is dangerous because the driver may need to inch out of the lane and risk impact with cars coming from behind on the second lane. Furthermore, it will take a longer time and distance for them to clear the whole group of cyclists. Finally, if the driver wants to make a left turn, he would have to stop and wait until all 4 cyclists cleared the junction completely. During the waiting period, he may block the traffic behind and may miss the last one or two cyclists and “left hook” them.

Here is a short animation showing four cyclists riding in a single file can cause longer delay before a car can make a left turn.

4 cyclists in single file, car follow behind before turning left

4 cyclists in single file, car follow behind before turning left?

Sometimes an impatient driver may try to overtake the group of cyclist, but he would be blocked by the row of moving cyclists and worst, he had to come to a total stop and blocking the traffic. The car still need to wait for the whole row of cyclists to clear before making the left turn.

4 cyclists in single file
4 cyclists in single file blocking a car from turning left

Alternatively, the two abreast riding formation makes it a lot easier for the same red car driver to proceed without any stopping moment. The driver will feel more relaxed as he won’t have to worry about cyclists coming from behind in his blind spot. Simply slow down, follow the group of cyclists for a short while, let them all clear the junction and the driver can make a safe left turn.

cycling 2 abreast
it is easier for driver to follow cyclists riding two abreast

Some people may feel riding two abreast is “blocking the traffic” and therefore it is prohibited. This is not true. As long as the cyclists keep to the left lane, faster vehicles can change to the next lane and overtake on their right. This scenario is no different to fast vehicle overtake another slower vehicle.

To make it more clear, below is a demonstration of a group of cyclists occupying all the lanes and blocking the traffic. This is clearly not the way to go and is indeed prohibited by Road Traffic Rules.

Hopefully, this short article helps to dissolve another misunderstanding between cyclists and motorists. Next time when you see cyclists riding two abreast taking up the whole lane, thank them for being considerate instead of getting angry 

How do motorists and cyclists misunderstand each other (1)?

Cyclist riding too close and hit by left-turning car

How do motorists and cyclists misunderstand each other? (1)

When cyclists and motorists share the road, it is important for both parties to be considerate to each other. The cyclist, being the slower mover, should try not to obstruct traffic, provided it is safe and practical to do so. On the other hand, being the operator of a powerful and potentially deadly machine, the driver must allow extra safety space when they approach vulnerable cyclists. Courtesy should be common sense, but when a cyclist’s action is misunderstood by a motorist, it may lead to anger and even reckless behaviour, as in the recent altercation between the lorry and the cyclist. (At the start of the video, it seemed like the lorry tailgated very close and tried to squeeze past the cyclist dangerously. Then the cyclist seemed to be provoked, didn’t want to give way while waiting at the traffic light, and later smashed the side mirror of the lorry. In the end, the lorry swung toward the cyclist and pushed him onto the grass verge.)

Cycling in Singapore roads is challenging. Cycling with fast-moving traffic requires an awareness of the traffic situation, adapting bicycle handling skills, and confidence to ride in a stable and predictable manner.

Most of the time, the safest position for a single cyclist is near the left side of the road, as recommended by the Road Traffic Act (RTA).

Road Traffic Act (Bicycle) Rules 8.  A person who rides a bicycle, power-assisted bicycle, trishaw or tricycle on a road must ride the bicycle, power-assisted bicycle, trishaw or tricycle as near as practicable to the far left edge of the road.

However, sometimes it is neither practical nor safe to remain in the leftmost position. Below are a few examples:

1- Going straight at an intersection:
Before approaching an intersection, it is safer for a cyclist to ride near the centre of the lane if he/she wants to go straight. This helps to prevent left turning car from dangerously overtaking and cutting in front of the cyclist (Left-hook).

Here is a short animation showing a cyclist riding too close to the curb and hit by a left-turning car.

Cyclist riding too close and hit by left-turning car
Cyclist riding too close to the curb and hit by left-turning car

To prevent left-hook accidents, experienced cyclists will “take the lane” by riding near the centre. This positioning temperately prevents the motorist from overtaking within the same lane. A left turning car will be forced to slow down behind the cyclist. Once the cyclist has cleared the junction, the motorist can make the left turn safely. The cyclist will then shift back toward the left after crossing the junction. This is shown in the animation below.

Cyclist riding at centre of lane prevented left-hooked by turning cars.
Cyclist riding at centre of lane prevented left-hooked by turning cars.

2- Going straight next to dedicated left-turning lane:
If a cyclist needs to go straight but the leftmost lane is reserved for left-turning, he/she will have to take the next lane which is going straight. This would appear to the drivers as “cycling in the middle of the road”.

3- Where the edge of the road is not well paved:
It is safer to stay away from the double yellow lines on the left to avoid sudden potholes or uneven metal grilling. Bicycle wheels are thin and light, and even a small protrusion can send the cyclist flying.

Typically, fast cyclists (>25 km/h) prefer using the centre of the lane in order to secure a bigger safety buffer. Slow cyclists (<15km/h) normally stay nearer to the double yellow lines to avoid obstructing the traffic or from being hit from behind.

I hope this short article helps to clarify some misunderstanding. Next time if you see a cyclists not riding at the left edge of the road, it may be due to one of the above situation. Allow him some slack and just relax.

Likewise, I believe there are cases when cyclist misread the intention of a driver, becomes upset, angry and even reckless as shown in this recent case above, which is totally unnecessary.

If given a second chance, I’m sure both the lorry driver and the cyclist would slow down and to give way to each other, rather than wasting time with the insurance agent, lawyer, the police, repair mechanic and doctor in the hospital.

In the end, what we all want is simply to go home safe, isn’t it.

Part 2, why cyclists riding two abreast blocking the whole lane?

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.

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!