Not difficult to license bicycles

The licensing of bicycles is not new ("LTA: Bicycle licensing not practical"; last Friday).

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, and without computers, bicycles were licensed.

Back then, if we were suspected of using a stolen bicycle, we had to produce our purchase receipt as proof of ownership.

When we sold or gave away our bicycle, we had to give the receipt as well.

All the Land Transport Authority (LTA) needs to do is to maintain a database of all bicycles in use.

All authorised bicycle retailers should be given access to the database to register bicycles, and owners issued with a registration number to be fixed to the bicycle, as well as a registration card the size of a credit card, which they have to carry with them when using the bicycle.

Owners need only to produce their identification cards to register their bicycles.

For children under the age of 12, registration can be done under the name of parents or a guardian. Children's bicycles with a wheel diameter of less than 12 inches (30cm) need not be registered.

If a bicycle is sold, the transfer can be done at an authorised bicycle retailer, police post, community club or any other organisation designated by the LTA.

Likewise, a bicycle that is condemned can be deregistered through the same process.

Initially, there can be a one-time islandwide registration period at designated places to license all existing bicycles. Once all bicycles are registered, it is up to the LTA to enforce its code of conduct.

If the LTA thinks that "strengthening public education and building up a culture of graciousness, supported by targeted enforcement of cycling rules, is more practical and sustainable", then it is wrong.

I was involved in public education on safe cycling more than 40 years ago, but look at the situation today: Is it sustainable?

In Singapore, it can be sustained only through licensing, accountability and enforcement.

Without strict enforcement, like what is happening to our littering problem, the culture of graciousness among cyclists can never be achieved.

Ronnie Lim Ah Bee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2016, with the headline 'Not difficult to license bicycles'. Print Edition | Subscribe