Bike licensing: Where there's a will, there's a way

A woman trying to avoid a woman cyclist along the pedestrian walkway.
A woman trying to avoid a woman cyclist along the pedestrian walkway. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Mr Lim Tong Wah ("LTA's stance on bike licensing disappointing") and Dr George Wong Seow Choon ("'Too difficult to do' should not be reason to dismiss idea") made strong arguments in their letters last Saturday on the need for bicycle licensing.

This is especially urgent now, as the cycling population has grown rapidly and is set to grow even more given the Government's push for a "car-lite" nation.

Since 2011, I have written seven letters to the Forum page, which highlighted the danger cyclists pose when invading common spaces meant for pedestrians, and have urged the authorities to rein in dangerous cycling behaviour through education, public campaigns, punitive measures and legislation.

Many readers have also written on this subject.

It has been more than four years and I have not discerned any improvement. In fact, the situation has worsened, given the influx of faster and more powerful bicycles and motorised bicycles.

The Land Transport Authority's Ms Tan Shin Gee ("LTA: Bicycle licensing not practical"; last Friday) supported her argument by making reference to the Netherlands' absence of a licensing regime even though it has a very large cycling population.

It is fallacious to compare Singapore with the Netherlands, which has the necessary infrastructure and proper cycling behaviour, given its long cycling culture.

In contrast, Singapore's cycling culture is a fledgling one. We have not developed infrastructure for cycling, and many of our cyclists are inconsiderate and irresponsible, and lack civic-mindedness and graciousness. Hence, until and unless we are ready to fully embrace the cycling culture, we need interim measures - educational, punitive and legislative - to ensure that pedestrians' safety is not compromised. Cyclists have a responsibility and duty of care to ensure the safety of pedestrians, instead of expecting pedestrians to constantly look out for them.

While I agree that bicycle licensing is not easy, it is possible, with political will. Like the saying goes: "Where there's a will, there's a way."

The civil service has a very large manpower resource, with a generous dose of scholars. Given this, it would not be impossible to develop a workable licensing regime.

Pedestrians deserve the safety and security of a sanctuary which belongs to them. This is even more crucial now, given our rapidly ageing population.

Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2016, with the headline 'Bike licensing: Where there's a will, there's a way'. Print Edition | Subscribe