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Written Reply by Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung to Parliamentary Question on Measures to Enhance Road Safety for Cyclists

11 May 2021 In Parliament

Ms Poh Li San asked the Minister for Transport in enhancing road safety, what other measures can the Ministry consider besides licensing cyclists.
Mr Gan Thiam Poh asked the Minister for Transport given that cyclists are more vulnerable on the roads, how can it be ensured that 
a.     cyclists are protected against inconsiderate and reckless drivers and 
b.     the rights of both cyclists and motor vehicle drivers are deconflicted.
Reply by Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung:
1.     Mr Speaker, may I have your permission to answer PQs 42 and 43 together, as well as Mr Dennis Tan’s PQ, scheduled for a subsequent sitting?
2.     More people have taken up cycling since the pandemic started. This is a good development, as cycling is a convenient, environmentally friendly, and healthy way to travel. The key is to ensure safety for different groups of road users.
3.     Where possible, we will separate bicycles from motor vehicles by providing cycling paths. We are building more cycling paths, within and between towns, from about 460km today to more than 1,300km by 2030.
4.     However, it is not always possible to have separate paths for motor vehicles and bicycles. There will be many instances and locations where motorists and cyclists have to share the same road space. To enhance road safety, it is important to have clear rules for motorists and cyclists, and for everyone to follow these safety rules.
5.     For on-road cyclists, there are existing rules under the Road Traffic Act which they must follow. For example, cyclists must comply with all traffic rules, such as adhering to traffic light signals, and avoiding the use of expressways and tunnels. They should also ride as near as practicable to the far-left edge of the road. This means they should keep to the left on the leftmost lane unless they are turning right or making a U-turn. On single-lane roads, cyclists are required to ride in a single file, so they do not obstruct passing vehicles.
6.     The majority of cyclists follow the safety rules. But there is a minority of errant cyclists who use their mobile phones while riding, refuse to stop at red lights, ride in the middle lane of a major road, including expressways where bicycles are prohibited, and react aggressively when they are called out for their actions. We will enforce against such behaviours. Errant cyclists can face up to a $1,000 fine and a six-month jail term for the first offence, with higher penalties for repeated offenders.
7.     There are also motorists who drive recklessly and endanger the lives of others, including cyclists, and we will take enforcement actions against them too. We should bear in mind that cyclists are more vulnerable than those travelling in motor vehicles. The Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP) will review ways to raise awareness amongst motorists on how to share road space safely with cyclists and other users.
8.     Ultimately, there needs to be more graciousness, consideration, as well as give and take on the roads. Other countries have done it, and so can we. Beyond enforcement, the more enduring solution is public education. In his written PQ for tomorrow’s Sitting, Mr Dennis Tan asked if we have a public education campaign on safe practices for cyclists and pedestrians. Since 2018, LTA has offered the Safe Riding Programme (SRP). This is a voluntary education programme that is free of charge, with both theory and practical components for all active mobility device users, including cyclists. LTA is revamping the SRP and will work with Traffic Police to better reach out to road users and encourage greater public participation. We intend to roll out the new SRP in the next few months.
9.     AMAP is also reviewing if our safety rules need to be strengthened and whether existing penalties need to be increased. For example, it is studying if cyclists should be required to ride in a single file at all times on the roads, or if there should be limits on group sizes for on-road cycling.
10.    On whether to license on-road cyclists, there are mixed views from the public. Some are in support of licensing, so that errant cyclists can be more easily identified and punished. Others have expressed concerns that licensing on-road cyclists will increase compliance costs and affect the livelihoods of Singaporeans who are using their bicycles for work and commute. AMAP will adopt a fair and balanced approach in doing its review by consulting widely and hearing from different groups of stakeholders.
11.    Most jurisdictions, like the Netherlands and Denmark, do not license cyclists. Vienna licenses children aged 10 to 12 years old who ride alone on roads, to ensure they are educated with road traffic rules, but adult cyclists are not required to have a licence. Tokyo requires bicycles to be registered, but the purpose is to deter bicycle theft and not to enhance road safety. Beijing used to register bicycles too, but decided to abolish the scheme in 2004 as they found it to be costly and ineffective. AMAP will review the practices in overseas jurisdictions, and study the different options and trade-offs carefully before finalising its recommendations.
12     Road safety is a collective effort by the community, requiring each of us to play our part. Beyond reviewing the safety rules and penalties, I urge all road users to drive and ride safely, be considerate to one another, and in so doing, make our roads safer for everyone.