Death of e-bike rider a traffic misadventure, coroner rules

He asks users and motorists to be mindful of risks of such devices

An 85-year-old man riding a motorised bicycle was killed after a sideswipe collision with a car along Brickland Road towards Bukit Batok West Avenue 5, at 6.50am on Sept 1 last year.

Yesterday, State Coroner Marvin Bay ruled Mr Law Ching Heng's death as an unfortunate traffic misadventure.

He said the coroner's court has handled two other cases involving riders of motorised bicycles in recent months.

Coroner Bay said he was concerned that riders may not have received any formal training on handling their motorised bicycles.

He added: "Users of motorised bicycles are subject to particular risks, as these vehicles are capable of attaining high speeds and present a low profile.

"Both cyclists on power-assisted bicycles, and motorists who encounter these vehicles, should be mindful of the vulnerabilities and unique handling characteristics of these vehicles, particularly when they are operated on major roads."

In the latest case, the court heard that the accident happened as senior technical executive Suleiman Ibrahim, 54, was sending his 13-year- old daughter to school.

As he was on the left-most lane exiting Kranji Expressway onto Brickland Road, his daughter saw Mr Law cycling on their right on the same road. She alerted her father.

When Mr Suleiman stopped his car, he saw Mr Law fall off his bicycle.

He told the court yesterday that he and his daughter did not hear Mr Law hitting his car.

He called an ambulance and Mr Law was taken to the National University Hospital, where he died of multiple injuries about 12 hours later.

Coroner Bay said: "Mr Law may have lost control of his power-assisted bicycle, leading to a side-swipe collision against the front side of Mr Suleiman's car.

He said Mr Suleiman's car was found to have a slight scratch on its right front portion near the tyre.

"Alternatively, a side-swipe collision had occurred as Mr Law's power-assisted bicycle and Mr Suleiman's car converged, causing Mr Law's loss of control and his fall onto the road," added Coroner Bay.

Investigators found a strand of raffia string around the crank shaft of the bicycle, near the pedals, at the scene.

Coroner Bay said of the finding: "Police could not exclude the possibility of an entanglement with the power-assisted bicycle's crankshaft contributing to instability in handling, and even possible loss of control. In these circumstances, it was unclear whether the collision occurred before or after the loss of control of the power-assisted bicycle."

Mr Law's son, daughter-in-law and their three children were in court but declined to comment when The Straits Times approached them.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2017, with the headline 'Death of e-bike rider a traffic misadventure, coroner rules'. Print Edition | Subscribe