Why It Matters

Education key to safe riding

New laws that spell out the rules governing the use of bicycles and personal mobility devices (PMDs), such as e-scooters, will take effect later this year.

The Active Mobility Act - the Bill was passed in Parliament in January - will give the authorities more teeth to deal with errant riders, who have made the headlines for reckless acts and using illegally souped-up devices.

But while enforcement will get a leg-up, education efforts will also receive a boost.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Sunday that a 90-minute Safe Riding Programme will be rolled out by July at selected community centres, schools and migrant worker dormitories.

Participants will be educated on the rules and codes of conduct, and put through a training circuit simulating actual scenarios on public paths, such as negotiating bus stops and zebra crossings.

Pilot runs of the course, which were held from May until the end of last year, mainly targeted cyclists, but the curriculum has been expanded to include PMD and electric bicycle users. This sends the message that PMDs - while new contraptions - are part of the ecosystem of active mobility, and their users have a responsibility to ensure safety.

PMDs have boomed in popularity in the past two years, and some industry watchers even expect them to overtake bicycles as a mode of transport in two to three years.

Online videos of PMD users scooting around on roads have revealed, disturbingly, that many seem unaware they are putting themselves in harm's way.

While enforcement operations and punishments in the form of fines or jail terms will serve to deter reckless riding, education will help encourage positive behaviour in the long run. Hence, the Safe Riding Programme is a step in the right direction. It will be launched after a pool of trainers has been built up, and the LTA will call a tender in the coming weeks to appoint training providers.

The programme will be fully subsidised in the first year, and this should further encourage cyclists and PMD users to attend it.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2017, with the headline 'Education key to safe riding'. Print Edition | Subscribe