Education, enforcement needed for cycling culture

Writer Danson Cheong was absolutely right when he highlighted that education and enforcement were the keys to the successful encouragement of cycling in Tampines ("Panel's bold plan powers cyclists into the future"; Thursday).

There must be political will to support these factors to ensure the success of cycling as a key component of transport here.

Nobody disputes that cycling is ideal for providing solutions to last-mile and short-distance transport problems. But in Singapore, cyclists have to share space with pedestrians and users of mobility aids. This is done successfully in other crowded cities, such as Tokyo, where the people are famously polite. But in Singapore, social graces are nowhere near that standard yet.

Education has to start right now in schools, and in the wider society. And it has to be ongoing, so that successive generations of students will grow up understanding how to share space responsibly and effectively in our crowded city.

Enforcement is also absolutely necessary. Not only are there Singaporean cyclists who speed through bus stops, but there are also many foreign workers who use this low-cost means of transport, and who come from cultures with a totally different approach to safety.

But even in Tampines, where the cycling initiative was promoted, government agencies dithered over who should take the lead in enforcement, until its town council decided to just hire auxiliary police officers to do the job.

After an eight-month study, an expert panel has submitted proposals to allow cyclists on footpaths.

The benefits of the proposals are obvious. We can only hope that the implementation will not be stymied by indecision over who should take responsibility for educating the public and enforcing some basic regulations.

Lee Chiu San

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2016, with the headline 'Education, enforcement needed for cycling culture'. Print Edition | Subscribe