Take steps to minimise tensions between walkers and riders

At Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, one trail is designated for mountain biking only; all other trails, including those at Dairy Farm Nature Park and nearby Rifle Range Road (Kampong Trail and Durian Loop), are hiking-only trails.

In spite of this, many hikers walk on the mountain-biking trail.

Two accidents happened recently between hikers and bikers.

Fortunately, they escaped with minor injuries; it could have been worse, as the accidents took place at one of the steep and rocky downhill sections.

Many mountain bikers, including myself, have had near-misses with hikers on mountain-biking trails.

Sometimes, these hikers come around blind corners, or they hike in large groups on narrow trails, holding everyone up. Some are plugged into earphones, or caught up in taking photos, and do not hear us approaching or shouting at them to get out of harm's way.

I know of two cases of assault on mountain bikers over such issues.

Such accidents and conflicts are entirely preventable. Regrettably, they will only happen again.

I have observed friendly interactions among hikers, runners, mountain bikers, dog walkers and photography enthusiasts on shared trails like the Rail Corridor.

We co-exist harmoniously.

But when hikers or runners habitually use the trail of another group, that harmony is strained.

We can all be understanding, and take care to observe another group's space.

Signs are ineffective and the absence of any trail manager has likely created the impression that "it is OK to use another group's trail as no one has told me otherwise".

The National Parks Board can play a positive role, by reaching out to trail users to explain the rationale for rules, and to urge them to follow them.

This will minimise friction, so that we can all enjoy the treasured but limited nature spaces we have left, whether we walk, run or ride.

Lim Boon Kuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2015, with the headline 'Take steps to minimise tensions between walkers and riders'. Print Edition | Subscribe