Go beyond 'rights' and 'turfs' to share public spaces

Limitations in space and infrastructure impede the construction of separate bicycle lanes and pedestrian pavements.

Hence, while pedestrians currently "rule" the pavements and are used to having the right of way, we should be prepared to share the pavements with other users ("Protect pedestrians' rights on walking paths" by Ms Tan Lay Hoon; Forum Online, July 1).

New laws are set to be implemented that will allow bicycles and personal mobility devices (PMDs) on pavements by the end of the year ("Bicycles, e-scooters may be allowed on footpaths by year end"; April 13). Therefore, road users should practise basic courtesy and look out for one another.

A mindset of having one's way while dealing with shared spaces will not benefit any of the parties.

It is encouraging that a Cyclist Education Programme is being rolled out to encourage a culture of safety and courtesy.

Adults should set an example for the next generation of road users. If cyclists continue to be seen as encroaching on our respective "turfs", accidents are bound to happen.

While I understand the concerns of pedestrians, our attitude should not be as though we own the pavement. It is not difficult to step aside to give way to a cyclist.

Cyclists and PMD users, too, should always give way to pedestrians, as they are the vulnerable party. Cyclists and PMD users should practise defensive riding, use their bells to signal their presence, dismount in areas with high pedestrian traffic and ride at lower speeds. They should be mindful of others, without having a sense of entitlement in getting the right of way. They should respect pedestrians, and not expect them to give way without a word of thanks.

I am grateful for the Land Transport Authority's efforts in making footpaths safer for all with the Active Mobility Enforcement Team. But enforcement officers can do only so much.

As road users, are we ready to embrace these changes and share public spaces with one another responsibly and graciously as we move towards a car-lite Singapore?

Darrell Low Wen Wei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2016, with the headline 'Go beyond 'rights' and 'turfs' to share public spaces'. Print Edition | Subscribe