85-year-old e-bike rider's death ruled a misadventure

Mr Law Ching Heng's death in September last year was ruled to be an unfortunate traffic misadventure.
Mr Law Ching Heng's death in September last year was ruled to be an unfortunate traffic misadventure. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - An 85-year-old man, who was riding a power-assisted bicycle, was killed after a sideswipe collision with a car along Brickland Road towards Bukit Batok West Avenue 5 at around 6.50am on Sept 1, last year.

In an inquiry into Mr Law Ching Heng's death on Wednesday (Jan 25), State Coroner Marvin Bay found his death to be an unfortunate traffic misadventure.

He pointed out that in recent months, his court had seen two earlier cases involving the deaths of cyclists on power-assisted bicycles, also known as electric bicycles.

Coroner Bay said, users of motorised bicycles are subject to particular risks, as they are capable of attaining high speeds and are not easily seen on the road.

He added: "The risks are compounded by the fact that the bicycle operators may not have received any formal training on handling their power-assisted bicycles.

"Both cyclists on power-assisted bicycles, and motorists who encounter these vehicles, should be mindful of the vulnerabilities and unique handling characteristics of these vehicles, particularly when they are operated on major roads."

As for the latest case, the court heard on Wednesday that senior technical executive Suleiman Ibrahim, 54, was sending his 13-year-old daughter to school when the accident occurred.

As he was driving at the left-most lane while exiting Kranji Expressway, the girl saw Mr Law cycling on Brickland Road on their right and alerted her father. Mr Suleiman stopped his car and saw Mr Law fall off his bicycle.

He told the court on Wednesday that neither he nor his daughter heard Mr Law hitting his car.

He called an ambulance and Mr Law was rushed to the National University Hospital where he died from multiple injuries about 12 hours later.

Coroner Bay said: "At this point, Mr Law may have lost control of his power-assisted bicycle, leading to a side-swipe collision against the front left side of Mr Suleiman's car.

"Alternatively, a side-swipe collision had occurred as Mr Law's power-assisted bicycle and Mr Suleiman's car converged, causing Mr Law's loss of control and his fall onto the road."

After the accident, investigators found a strand of raffia string around the crank shaft of the bicycle, near the pedals.

The coroner added: "Police could not exclude the possibility of an entanglement with the power-assisted bicycle's crankshaft contributing to instability in handling, and even possible loss of control.

"In these circumstances, it was unclear whether the collision occurred before or after the loss of control of the power-assisted bicycle."

Mr Law's son, daughter-in-law and their three children were in court on Wednesday but they declined to comment when The Straits Times approached them.