Why cyclists must dismount and push bikes at crossings

Valid concerns have been raised regarding the sharing of footpaths with cyclists and users of personal mobility devices ("Bicycles, e-scooters may be allowed on footpaths by year end"; April 13, and "Without proper infrastructure, we may be inviting trouble"; April 14).

For instance, most bikes do not have speedometers, so how are cyclists to know if they are within their 15kmh speed limit?

Cyclists are to give way to pedestrians but that is not going to happen because the one who moves faster always expects to overtake the other. And if a pedestrian is hit, the cyclist can just speed off. So how can they be held accountable?

One important recommendation seems to have escaped the attention of many and it could lead to serious injury or even death: Doing away with the need for cyclists to dismount and push their bikes at traffic crossings.

The reason given by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel seems to be that very few cyclists and PMD users obey the rules to dismount and push, and that it was "impractical for them to dismount at every crossing" and "it might not be safe for them to do so, especially if they have a child or a load with them".

If, under the current rules, cyclists are already endangering themselves and others, what are the chances that they will, under the new rules, dutifully stop and look out for traffic before continuing at crossings?

The speed of a cyclist is very different from that of a pedestrian. It is difficult to gauge how quickly a cyclist is approaching, say, a zebra crossing, such that a motorist has sufficient time to slow down and stop safely.

Besides, when should drivers prepare to stop when they see a cyclist on a footpath near a zebra crossing? Are they to assume the cyclist is definitely going to make the crossing and so stop in advance?

At what distance should the cyclist be from the crossing when drivers are to prepare to stop? A cyclist riding quickly will easily get to the crossing faster than one who is pedalling at a leisurely pace.

Not requiring cyclists to dismount at pedestrian and zebra crossings is asking for serious trouble. The truck driver who fatally hit two brothers cycling across the road was jailed two weeks in January 2014 ("Driver failed to check his left side"; Jan 28, 2014).

The driver pleaded guilty but as his lawyer also noted: "This incident should nonetheless serve as a timely reminder for cyclists to get off their bicycles before availing themselves (of) the privileges of a pedestrian crossing."

Yong Shou Ling (Madam)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2016, with the headline 'Why cyclists must dismount and push bikes at crossings'. Print Edition | Subscribe