Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Traffic Police Video for Pedal Cyclists, Singapore and comments by SATan

This video produced by the Traffic Police about road safety for cyclists was uploadded by LingtheMErciless to YouTube last year.

SATan posted her reaction to the video on her blog a week later and since its no longer updated, I got permission t reproduce it here:

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"Traffic Police safety video for pedal cyclists." By S. A. Tan. .synthesized, 20 Aug 2006.

The road safety video
(Yes, it’s a little old, but still…)

Well, it does have a few good points, but I do have a few issues with the video…..

1) Who the hell wears elbow pads and knee pads?
Ya, wearing a helmet on the road is a good thing (unfortunately, I don't, but I might be persuaded to), but elbow pads and knee pads? That does seem a little excessive.
Motorcyclists wearing elbow pads and knee pads is one thing.... but bicyclists? (Yes, I know some motorcyclists would even find wearing elbow and knee pads excessive).

Wearing a helmet while riding somewhere like a park or cycle track is in my opinion safe but unnecessary.

2) Do I see a white rear light somewhere?
I thought rear lights must be red? Dunno about front lights though, someone said that they must be white, mine used to be white until I bought a trippy multicoloured colour-changing light from my school (from a stall set up by the School of business people) and now the front of my bike looks like a rave party.

3) And stay as close to the left kerb as possible? That is just wrong.
Some things I have encountered in the extreme left of the left lane:

* Big puddles
* Long twigs
* A dead bird (yes, a dead bird, I only saw it when my front wheel was inches from it, and I'm lucky it didn't fly up and slap me in the face)
* Glass.
* Holes and cracks and other assorted stuff.

(Yes, I can't bunnyhop, so what?)

In some situations, it would be better to move out a little, such as

* moving out a little does give you somewhere to escape to in case a driver miscalculates the distance needed to pass you, however, it also pisses off some drivers, so use as you see fit.
* when you need to go straight on a left turn or straight and left turn road, so that you don't end up being sandwiched between a left turning car and the kerb.
* When stopping , so that a car doesn't get tempted to stop beside you, effectively blocking your view from other traffic.

And how are you going to overtake (yes, it happens) or make a right turn anyway?

4) And pay attention to the damn traffic when you're on the road.
Yes, even at a red light or whatever, don't stand around and talk cock with your friend. Watch the damn traffic! You can even pick up clues about what risks you may face when you start moving, eg. the driver talking on his cellphone, the guy on the 2B sportbike with the probation plate and the girlfriend riding pillion (most of them speed and ride recklessly, are preoccupied with showing off to their girlfriends, and haven't been in enough accidents to get scared yet), the motorcyclist which won't stop playing with his throttle (Likely to be impatient, aggressive: in my bike lesson, when I end up beside one, I can be sure of one thing: I'll have to give way to him cause he won't).

5) Riding on the pavement is ok IF
* the route is safe for both you and pedestrians sharing the pavement with you (wide pavement, light human traffic, etc.)
* you have competent bike handling skills (no need to know how to bunnyhop or wheelie or what, just need to be able to balance at extremely slow speeds, negotiate tight turns at low speed, stop consistently)
* good judgement
* discipline (no stunts (yes, even if there is a pretty girl you want to impress) or swerving in and out or riding fast or whatever)

However, crossing the road becomes problematic.
Often, one has to check three opposing and difficult to see directions for cars before crossing. For example, to the right directly behind you, to the right in front of you, and to the left in front of you. This is made worse by the fact that cars usually do not expect bikes to move out onto the road at all, especially not at that speed. Plus, need to check in front of you so you don't fall into any hole or hit any pedestrian, especially cause most pedestrians are even more careless than drivers, move unpredictably and don’t look where they’re going.

Can become quite a handful on a moving vehicle.
(Yes, I don't dismount. Hehe)
If you dismount, you may have to stop at the centre to wait for the traffic on the other lane to clear, with your bike perpendicular to the traffic and your bike's big butt effectively blocking the traffic behind you. Cue horning.
Most of my bad encounters with cars happened while I was riding on the pavement and needed to cross the road.

Depending on where you are, riding on the pavement can indeed be more problematic and dangerous than taking the road directly beside it.

And try not to ride on a crowded pavement, duh.

Actually, it depends on the route, some routes are easier and safer by pavement, some by road. It’s up to your own judgement.

What I find even more disturbing is that the video seems to treat bicyclists only as temporary road users and doesn't educate them about things that are far more important, such as what to look out for, where to check, changing lanes, right-turning, what kind of risks they face, etc.

And most importantly, patience, alertness, anticipation, level-headedness, good judgement, discipline and a respect of the people (and animals) that are sharing wherever you choose to ride with you. And whatever you choose to do, be decisive!!!! (this one I learnt from learning to ride motorcycle, hehe)

Just my two cents. (And I’m not anywhere near the world’s most perfect bicyclist, so use at your own risk).

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