'Positive feedback' on proposals for bikes, mobility devices

Cyclists at the launch of the Safe Riders Campaign outside the National Gallery yesterday, which coincided with Car-Free Sunday. The campaign aims to get pedestrians, cyclists and personal mobility device users to share walkways in a safe and conside
Cyclists at the launch of the Safe Riders Campaign outside the National Gallery yesterday, which coincided with Car-Free Sunday. The campaign aims to get pedestrians, cyclists and personal mobility device users to share walkways in a safe and considerate manner.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Recommendations to boost the use of bicycles and personal mobility devices (PMDs) here, including allowing them on footpaths, have been greeted with positive public feedback, said the head of the expert panel behind the ideas.

The Active Mobility Advisory Panel is also "heartened" that its recommendations were fully accepted by the Government two weeks ago, said its chairman Faishal Ibrahim, who is also Parliamentary Secretary for Education as well as Social and Family Development.

He said: "Many people have shared with me that they find that the rules and code of conduct we proposed are practical, fair and, most importantly, account for the safety of all the different road users... They feel that it is clearer now as there is something that they can follow and abide by."

Besides recommending that PMDs be allowed on footpaths, the panel also prescribed speed limits on foot and cycling paths, and registration for power-assisted bicycles to clamp down on the illegal modification of these devices.

The rules are expected to be implemented by the year end.

While there is a need for "strong enforcement" to deter errant riders, said Dr Faishal, it is more important to develop a safe riding culture.

"We hope we will be able to practise all these safe riding habits and internalise them and, over time, these norms and code of conduct will become second nature," he said at the launch of the Safe Riders Campaign at the National Gallery yesterday.

The first public education drive since the new rules were accepted, the campaign aims to get pedestrians, cyclists and PMD users to share walkways in a safe and considerate manner. The launch coincided with the third run of Car-Free Sunday, where some roads in the Central Business District are closed to allow people to run, cycle or ride their devices freely on them.

As part of the campaign, a safe riding booth and clinic were set up along the 5km car-free route to promote seven good riding habits, and for cyclists and other users to take a pledge to commit to riding safely.

Separately, the first PMD carnival was held yesterday at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. Visitors could try different brands and models of mobility devices at the 12,000 sq m site.

Mr Denis Koh, chairman of interest group Big Wheel Scooters Singapore, said he expects more PMD users in the coming years.

"But that doesn't mean there may be more accidents on the paths because I believe LTA is working out details on how to get retail shops to electronically and permanently cap the speed on such devices," he said, referring to the Land Transport Authority. The speed limit is 15kmh on footpaths and 25kmh on cycling and shared paths.

Last year, 17 cyclists or their pillion riders were killed in accidents, up from 15 each in 2014 and 2013. There were also 590 cyclists injured in accidents last year, a 17 per cent jump from 503 in 2014.

Mr Francis Chu, co-founder of Love Cycling SG, said footpaths in crowded areas should be widened.

Ms Denise Justine Sim, 43, an IT engineer and regular cyclist, said pedestrians go on cycling paths as they offer shelter or a shortcut, but some may have headphones on and cannot hear bicycle bells.

Cyclists can also pose a danger to fellow riders, she added. A bicycle once crashed into hers from the back. She was flung 26m forwards and lost all her front teeth.

"We need to learn to give and take and slow down for one another."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2016, with the headline ''Positive feedback' on proposals for bikes, mobility devices'. Print Edition | Subscribe