Safe cycling by-laws in Tampines get more bite

Volunteers who are taking up roles as cycling wardens in Tampines listening to a crime and road safety briefing by Staff Sergeant Firdaus Mohamad (foreground) from Changi Neighbourhood Police Centre.
Volunteers who are taking up roles as cycling wardens in Tampines listening to a crime and road safety briefing by Staff Sergeant Firdaus Mohamad (foreground) from Changi Neighbourhood Police Centre.ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

More systematic way to enforce volunteer wardens' efforts in tackling errant cyclists

Singapore's model cycling town is beefing up its enforcement of safe cycling practices.

Tampines, whose widened footpaths are shared by pedestrians and cyclists, is the only town council here to have amended by-laws to allow it to haul up errant cyclists.

Now, it has come up with a more systematic way of going after them.

Volunteer wardens who patrol the neighbourhoods to educate cyclists and tell reckless ones off can now issue written warnings in the presence of auxiliary patrol officers (APOs). After residents receive three warning notices, they will be issued a summons.

In the past, these officers would issue writs of summons in an ad-hoc manner when they carried out occasional enforcement blitzes. Wardens and APOs would usually issue verbal warnings and take down the particulars of reckless cyclists - people who endanger the life or safety of another person.

Said Ms Irene Ng, MP for Tampines GRC: "We just want to have a system in place so that even as we ramp up our efforts to promote cycling, we also ensure that the neighbourhoods remain safe."

"Issuing summonses is always a last resort," she said, adding that reckless cycling incidents in Tampines had not increased.

Around 370 summonses have been issued in Tampines since 2010, with 1,121 verbal warnings, Ms Ng revealed yesterday after a training session for 40 new and existing wardens.

There are now close to 100 wardens across Tampines. They are out on duty twice a week on average.

One new volunteer trained last night was 17-year-old student Aleric Chan, who cycles every night with friends and found out about the position via social media.

"It'll be an interesting new experience having to keep a lookout for trouble," he said.

A warden for seven years, Mr Rahmat Mahwan, 50, said people often scold him when he stops them, such as when they try to cycle across junctions.

"But we have to be patient, cool them down and calmly advise them that 'The green man is for walking, so you should get off your bike and walk,' "said the cleaning supervisor.

Under Tampines Town Council by-laws, anyone flouting the cycling rules will be issued a notice of offence allowing the person to compound the offence for a sum of $50. The fine would be increased for subsequent offences up to $1,000.

If the town council chooses to take court action, the offender can be fined up to $5,000.

The police may also investigate if physical injury is involved.

First-time offenders convicted of riding in a disorderly manner and without due regard for the safety of others may be fined up to $1,000 or jailed for up to three months.

For subsequent offences they may be fined up to $2,000 or jailed for up to six months.

joseow@sph.com.sg