Singapore has built 80 rain shelters at expressways for motorcyclists to take cover or take breaks, but some bikers have still been spotted pulling up at road shoulders despite a horrific crash on the Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) on March 11.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it has the 80 rain shelters under flyovers at the 10 expressways. This is 33 per cent up from 2009, when there were 60 such shelters that could accommodate some 1,000 motorcycles.
At a cost of $2.58 million, the LTA doubled the number of shelters that year, from 29 in 2008.
Mr Yam Ah Mee, then chief executive of LTA, had said the shelters were "one improvement to our land transport infrastructure to increase motorcyclist safety".
The 42.8km Pan-Island Expressway has the most shelters at 17, followed by the 26.5km Ayer Rajah Expressway and the 14.4km Tampines Expressway, with 13 shelters each. The 11km BKE has seven.
The shelters are marked by umbrella signs, posted about 40m ahead of each one. They are also demarcated by vehicle impact guard rails or spring-loaded poles - installed depending on the configuration and space available at each site, said the LTA.
Staying safe on expressways
Designated rain shelters for motorcyclists on expressways can generally accommodate 10 to 20 bikers, and sometimes more, depending on size, said Mr Aman Aljunied from Singapore Safety Driving Centre.
But he added that it is best not to wait until rain is imminent before putting on a raincoat.
For example, he makes the decision before starting his trips. "Everyone would end up stopping at the same spot, and it may get too crowded otherwise," he said.
The rider of 45 years said he takes care to leave his signal lights on when he pulls over, and faces traffic so that he can see oncoming vehicles.
"Or I will move behind the guardrails," he added.
ACCORDING TO THE ROAD TRAFFIC ACT:
• No vehicle may be stopped on any shoulder or verge on an expressway unless in line with certain rules.
• Exceptions are made in cases of a breakdown, emergency, for motorists to give help to others, or to recover a fallen object.
• Motorists who stop on the shoulder are liable to a fine of up to $160 and four demerit points.
TRAFFIC POLICE ADVISORY FOR MOTORCYCLISTS:
• Pull over at the dedicated shelters under vehicular flyovers along expressways when seeking shelter from the rain.
• At the shelters, stand behind the railing, face oncoming traffic and switch on hazard lights.
• Motorcyclists should always remain visible and keep a lookout for traffic.
Seow Bei Yi
The March 11 accident has cast the spotlight on motorcyclists' practice of stopping on expressway road shoulders under flyovers to take breaks or to seek shelter during bad weather.
In that accident, a van ploughed intomotorcyclists parked on a road shoulder on the BKE under the flyover of the Seletar Expressway (SLE). The motorcyclists had stopped as dark clouds gathered.
Two died and six were injured; all are Malaysians. Van driver Koh Boon Ping, 24, was chargedlast Monday with two counts of causing death by a rash act.
In a recent check by The Straits Times, many riders were seen using designated rain shelters on the BKE. They said news of the accident had left them wary, and they are more careful now.
Technician Alex Goh, 38, who was waiting for a friend at a designated rain shelter on the BKE, said: "We move farther in at the shelters now, rather than stopping at non-designated areas under flyovers. We also try not to stand outside the barricades."
But ST also spotted at least four motorcyclists stopping briefly at the crash site within 15 minutes.
Motorcyclists are advised to pull over only at designated shelters, but road safety experts said it is almost second nature for riders to stop at the road shoulder if the shelters are too crowded during bad weather, or if they are already caught in the rain.
Mr Norman Lee, general secretary of the Singapore Motor Cycle Trade Association and a rider of about 20 years, said: "During peak hours and heavy rain, one shelter may not be able to hold that many bikers. They may spill over and obstruct the left lane.
"Riding in the rain is equally dangerous because visibility is reduced, and there is an increased braking distance."
Mr Ong Kim Hua, president of the Singapore Motorcycle Safety and Sports Club, said it would help to build more or larger shelters, especially on the BKE, owing to the number of bikers using the highway.
An estimated 40,000 Malaysian motorcyclists commute to Singapore daily, with many using the BKE and SLE.
Mr Ong said that unlike road shoulders under flyovers, designated shelters help to "channel" bikes off the expressway into a bay, away from oncoming traffic.
An LTA spokesman said that before building a shelter, it has to assess whether there is enough space and height for motorcyclists to park and wait safely.
Said the spokesman: "To ensure safety, there must also be an unobstructed line of sight for motorcyclists entering and exiting the sheltered area."