Inherent problems with cyclists, pedestrians sharing paths

The Land Transport Authority's case against bicycle licensing sidesteps pedestrians' concerns on identifying and nabbing hit-and-run cyclists ("LTA: Bicycle licensing not practical"; Feb 12).

The authorities here are proposing shared paths instead of reclaiming space from roads to overcome land scarcity.

Advocates of shared paths tend to talk up public education and rules, downplay cyclist-pedestrian conflict, and discount risks of pedestrians getting seriously injured by bicycles.

They overlook the fact that shared paths lead to disrespect for pedestrian facilities, such as cycling in HDB void decks - where blind spots abound - and indiscriminate parking of bicycles on walking spaces.

Education and rules may not tame our desire to over-extend flexibility and personal convenience.

A minority litter but their negative impact on our environment remains an issue after nearly five decades of campaigns.

Increasingly, surveillance systems are deployed to guide motorists to comply with traffic regulations.

In other countries with shared paths, some cyclists disregard "impractical" safety rules that impede riding efficiency. Some pedestrians have suffered injuries caused by untraceable hit-and-run cyclists, and other vulnerable pedestrians have had to stop using certain shared paths used heavily by cyclists.

The Netherlands sustains a large cycling population with transport policies that prioritise the safety and convenience of cyclists over efficient movement of motor vehicles, without compromising safety and walk quality for pedestrians.

The Dutch do not have shared paths, as they recognise the limitations of education and the paths' inherent nature to create cyclist-pedestrian conflicts.

A true cycling culture is about cycling replacing motorised transport for utility trips up to medium distances.

It is cultivated on good cycling infrastructure which allows cyclists to ride fast but safely for their daily commutes, to perform jobs, run errands, transport personal goods or attend to emergencies.

To grow the cycling population here and realise our vision of a "car-lite" community, the authorities need to move away from promoting intra-estate cycling and encourage individuals, including motorists, to cycle out of their residential estates.

A less car-centric community makes space for cyclists and helps build a safe and gracious cycling culture.

Tan Lay Hoon (Ms)