Bike licensing would be ineffective

Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo's assertion that bicycle licensing would be ineffective is quite valid ("Speed limits for cyclists";last Saturday).

Bicycle licensing does not work as a law enforcement mechanism for two primary reasons: inefficiency and discontinuity.

Motor vehicle licences - along with certificates of entitlement, Electronic Road Pricing and vehicle insurance - are all tied directly to individual drivers.

Singapore is very efficient in maintaining the continuity of all these elements throughout the lifespan of vehicles.

As a result, drivers pay a very high price to secure licences and operate vehicles.

Effective tracking of bicycle ownership would be difficult and expensive, but not impossible.

Yet, discontinuity would still exist because licensing bicycles is not at all the same as licensing cyclists.

The research that Ms Amy Loh Chee Seen proposes ("Bicycle licensing necessary to curb errant riding"; Wednesday) would undoubtedly show that cyclists are a small percentage of people on roads and pathways, and that when they have accidents with motor vehicles or pedestrians, cyclists are more likely to be on the losing end of the encounter.

As satisfying as it might be to institute a fresh set of rules and fines to punish a vanishingly small population of offensive riders, public funds would be better spent educating cyclists about how to ride safely and the folly of not doing so.

David Knapp

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2016, with the headline 'Bike licensing would be ineffective'. Print Edition | Subscribe