'Look up and look out': Road safety campaign aims to ease tensions on roads

Head of Active Mobility Advisory Panel, Dr Faishal Ibrahim (left), said a ground-up initiative is more useful as the organisers know road conditions better. ST PHOTO: SAMUEL ANG

SINGAPORE - Cyclists will be told to "look up" and motorists to "look out" in a new ground-up road safety campaign that aims to alleviate increased tensions on the road among competing road users.

The Look Up, Look Out campaign was launched last week at both ends of the island - Bok Seng Logistics Hub in Tuas and Nicoll Drive in Changi - where volunteers interacted with truck drivers and cyclists to share the safety message and understand their concerns.

It is organised by the Singapore Cycling Federation, the Safe Cycling Task Force, and the Singapore Logistics Association. It includes sticking of decals on truck drivers' windscreens and handing out leaflets to cyclists.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA), the police and the Traffic Police are also supporting the ground-up effort, which was organised after a cyclist approached the Singapore Cycling Federation to propose such a programme.

President of Singapore Cycling Federation Hing Siong Chen said efforts should reach between 5,000 and 10,000 cyclists by the end of next year.

He added that the next event is likely to involve bus drivers, who have more blind spots and might not be able to see cyclists around their vehicle.

"When we met the truck drivers, we were invited to sit in the trucks and (noticed that) you cannot see the area around you at all," Dr Hing said on Sunday (Nov 7). "Yet, I have seen many cyclists waiting really close to or even in front of these trucks at traffic junctions.

"The roads in Singapore are not going to increase, and with more people taking up cycling, the problem will stay. Public education is really important."

In April, the LTA said enforcement operations over just two days in a few locations caught 34 cyclists flouting rules on roads, 16 of whom ran the red light and two rode against the flow of traffic.

More recently, this month, it said it pulled over 245 people from January to September for cycling on expressways, a figure nearly four times that for the whole of last year.

Mr Tay Yong Hong, 63, a retired technical manager who has been cycling for nine years, said some cyclists ride looking down, especially when they go down slopes, making the reminder to look up a very pertinent one.

"Some riders have those aerodynamic helmets and looking down increases the thrill. But it is more important to look up for safety reasons.

"It is not just to look out for vehicles. The same applies on shared paths with pedestrians, where there are many people and cyclists, especially on weekends. In some places, animals will run out onto the road too," he said.

Guest of honour at the event, Dr Faishal Ibrahim, head of the Active Mobility Advisory Panel, which recently recommended that fines for errant cyclists be raised from $75 to $150 from next year, said a ground-up initiative is more useful as the organisers know road conditions better.

"Because of Covid-19, you see a sudden surge in the number of cyclists, so this message is really important. The campaign is an exemplary platform where people are coming forward to share and work with government agencies to make sure road users internalise the message to look out for themselves and others," he said.

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