Road users welcome 'fair' proposals for cycling rules but some want tougher measures

Some motorists voiced concerns over whether the recommendations are tough enough to adequately improve safety for all road users.
Some motorists voiced concerns over whether the recommendations are tough enough to adequately improve safety for all road users.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The decision by a panel not to recommend a bicycle registration or licensing scheme for cyclists has been welcomed by road users, who said licences would have been overkill, given the difficulty in enforcement.

But some motorists voiced concern over whether the recommendations are tough enough to adequately improve safety for all road users.

The Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP) on Friday (Oct 1) submitted a report to the Ministry of Transport recommending several measures to improve safety around on-road cycling.

It had been tasked by the Government to look into rules for on-road cycling after a debate erupted online in April over whether rules should be tightened.

The panel said it did not at this point recommend bicycle registration and licensing of cyclists, which had come up in April as a suggestion for regulating cyclist behaviour. Such schemes would have various disadvantages, including disproportionately affecting more vulnerable groups of cyclists, such as older riders.

The AMAP also did not touch on the issue of theory tests for road cyclists, which had also been mooted.

Mr Francis Chu, co-founder of cycling group Love Cycling SG, said the decision to not go ahead with registration, licensing and theory tests was sensible.

"Theory test maybe simple for more educated young people, but considering the many elderly bicycle users, that is overkill and probably not necessary, because most of them only cycle in their neighbourhood and short distance, mix path between road and pavements," he added.

Mr Chu said he agreed with AMAP's other recommendations to limit cycling groups to a maximum of 10 people when cycling abreast, and for a minimum passing distance of 1.5m when motorists pass cyclists on the roads.

But he questioned a recommendation calling for a distance of 30m between cycling groups.

Mr Chu said: "When a group of fast cyclists overtakes another group of slower cyclists, the gap will be reduced until the overtaking is fully completed.

"Some motorist will say these two groups of cyclists are breaking the rule."

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Roads.sg, a website which seeks to promote safe use of the roads, said it was disappointed with the lack of tougher recommendations to make cyclists and motorists more equal on the road.

For example, he said mandatory third-party liability insurance should have been introduced for road cyclists.

He also said the recommendation of a 1.5m gap when overtaking was not a new guideline, as it is reflected in driving theory tests.

The spokesman said Roads.sg receives regular complaints about errant road cyclists, and he doubted that the proposed measures would make a significant difference.

But communications manager Wong Kai Yi, 32, who participated in AMAP's focus group discussions for the report, said he felt that the panel's recommendations were balanced and fair.

Mr Wong, who predominantly drives but also cycles on roads, said: "They do not unfairly penalise law-abiding cyclists, who make up the majority of cyclists.

"The recommendations also ensure that people who wish to cycle are still able to do so without fear of overly restrictive rules."

Mr Steven Lim, president of the Safe Cycling Task Force and a member of AMAP, said the panel hoped the recommendations will provide a framework for safe use of the road to develop.

"I think it's a good balance in terms of the responsibility being put on both cyclists and drivers," he said.

"Hopefully, we won't need more rules. We will monitor the situation, and I hope people will view these recommendations as measures to help protect themselves instead of being rules to be broken."