SINGAPORE - The authorities are clamping down on cycling on expressways, with 245 people hauled up between January and September, a figure nearly four times than for the whole of last year.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) told The Straits Times this week that the offenders used bicycles and electronic bikes, both of which are banned on highways.
The surge in rule-breakers comes amid greater interest in cycling as a hobby during the pandemic, and more enforcement operations.
Last week, the Ministry of Transport said fines for errant cyclists will be raised from $75 to $150 from next year for offences such as cycling on expressways, not stopping at red lights or riding abreast of another on single-lane roads.
LTA said it has put up no-entry signs for bicycles at more than 50 entry points to expressways, including the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE), Central Expressway (CTE) and Seletar Expressway (SLE).
Recently, larger as well as more colourful and prominent signs reminding cyclists not to use expressways were installed at four busy locations - Upper Thomson Road (before SLE), Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim and Tuas West Road (before AYE), Jalan Anak Bukit (before Pan-Island Expressway and Bukit Timah Expressway) and Balestier Road (before CTE).
"We are monitoring the situation closely and the signage will be deployed at other locations if necessary," LTA said. It reminded all cyclists to observe prevailing regulations "for their own safety as well as that of other road users".
The increase in cyclists on roads has led to growing tensions between motorists and cyclists since last year, sparking calls that all bicycles should be registered.
The authorities have been seeking a balance so that people are not discouraged from cycling, given that its growing popularity bodes well for Singapore's aspirations to be a car-lite nation and the significant number of people who do it for work and commutes.
Mr Steven Lim, president of the safe cycling task force, said there are a number of reasons why cyclists end up on expressways, chief of which is that many use digital navigation tools that mark out highways as the shortest route.
Others ignore the prohibition out of convenience. A short stretch between Paya Lebar and Eunos on the PIE is especially popular among cyclists as it cuts travelling time.
"Cyclists should study the road before they start off from point A to point B. Road planning is very important in terms of safe practices," he said.
"But what is more important is public education. No amount of rules and improved infrastructure will stop errant cyclists completely."
Mr Jason Lim, director of Roads.sg, agreed. Most cyclists end up on expressways after taking a wrong turn, posing a danger to road users as they travel at a maximum of 40kmh versus drivers' 70 to 90kmh, he said.
Like the successful effort over the years against drink driving, good cycling practices require a "concerted and strong" education campaign by both the Government and private companies.
"Cyclists slip under the framework of testing and certification that drivers have to go through. I'm not an advocate of registration or licensing, but agencies from Sport Singapore, LTA and the Traffic Police have to come together to address this," he said.
"It is not just about cycling on expressways, but also other things like being aware of the blind spots of big vehicles and allowing motorised vehicles to pass them safely.
"A campaign like this would be two years too late but we need to act before a life is lost."
Here are some rules that cyclists should adhere to, including those that will kick in from next year.
- Obey traffic signals like red lights
- Head in the same direction as the flow of traffic
- Wear a helmet
- Ride as close to the left as practicable, and allow road users to overtake you safely. Keep a straight course.
- Cycle in a single file on single lane roads and during bus lane operational hours
- Keep a safe distance behind moving vehicles
- Plan ahead and pick the safest route, and keep out of heavy traffic as much as possible
- Signal early
- Keep to a maximum length of five bicycles, which means a maximum of five cyclists in a single file or 10 cyclists when riding abreast
- Ride on expressways or in road tunnels
- Use your mobile phone while cycling
- Weave through traffic and make sudden swerves
- Hold on to the back or side of motor vehicles
- Squeeze between the kerb and a bus that has stopped at a bus stop, or a turning vehicle and a kerb