More cyclists punished

There are many cyclists in Bedok Town Centre which is a popular shopping precinct with high pedestrian traffic. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
There are many cyclists in Bedok Town Centre which is a popular shopping precinct with high pedestrian traffic. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Sept 15, 2014

THE number of fines handed out to misbehaving cyclists has been increasing steadily, the latest data from the Traffic Police shows.

Last year, 1,455 summonses were issued for offences such as riding on the footpath and rash riding. That beats the 1,290 fines issued in 2012 and 1,238 in 2011.

Fines can range from $20 for riding on the pavement to as much as $5,000 if the cyclist is convicted of rash riding on a public way, said a police spokesman.

"Road safety is a shared responsibility. All cyclists should always abide by road traffic rules at all times," said the police.

One reason for the increase in fines is simply that there are more cyclists on the roads these days.

Tampines GRC MP Irene Ng said that even though its town council wants to encourage cycling, the experience should be a safe one for everyone.

Tampines is Singapore's first cycling town and the only one to have amended its by-laws to accommodate the usage of bicycles, and sought an exemption from the road traffic rule banning cyclists from riding on the footpath.

But its town council is also one of two that have been issuing fines to errant riders, The Straits Times found, after checking with all 16 town councils.

Since 2010, Tampines has issued 370 fines and 1,121 verbal warnings to cyclists for riding in a manner that endangers others - for instance by speeding across bus stops and swerving suddenly.

"While we promote cycling, we need to ensure that safety is the No. 1 priority," said Ms Ng.

Each town council has its own set of by-laws, and can fine cyclists if they flout the rules by riding recklessly in common areas of the town such as HDB void decks. The Traffic Police also issue fines for cycling offences.

Only Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East did not respond to queries from The Straits Times.

Last month, the East Coast Town Council caused a stir in the cycling community when it fined 11 cyclists $100 each for reckless riding in Bedok Town Centre.

Since the fines were issued, there has been a slight improvement, said the town council spokesman.

"This is an ongoing effort. We will issue fines again if the problem gets worse," she added.

However, some cyclists fear the laws could be enforced blindly.

Mr Francis Chu, co-founder of cycling group LoveCyclingSG, said officers should target reckless riders but not the elderly or schoolchildren commuting on footpaths.

"For the aunties and uncles who are headed to the market or sending children to school, riding on the pavement is the only safe way for them to use their bikes," he noted.

dansonc@sph.com.sg