Friday, February 13, 2009

LTA: $43 million programme for dedicated cycling tracks

NewsRadio 93.8FM reports (12 Feb 2009):

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Teo Ser Luck told members of parliament that the Land Transport Authority will roll out a $43 million programme to design and construct dedicated cycling tracks next to pedestrian footpaths in HDB estates.

" Where there is enough space, these tracks will be physically separate from the footpaths, allowing cyclists to have a truly dedicated path. In more restricted areas, the tracks will be joined to the existing pedestrian footpath but they will have painted markings clearly defining and identifying them for cyclists, like what you see in our park connectors. "

Mr Teo said the first phase of the programme will cover five towns -- namely Tampines, Yishun, Sembawang, Pasir Ris and Taman Jurong.

In Tampines, the LTA will start building 6.9 kms of cycling tracks from the second half of this year onwards, at the estimated cost of $4.7 million.

Mr Teo said the next town will be Yishun, where the LTA will work with the HDB to extend existing tracks.

He said 7.5 kms of cycling tracks will be constructed from 2010 onwards, at a cost of $6.3 million.

Sembawang, Pasir Ris and Taman Jurong are also working with the LTA to design similar cycling tracks.

Mr Teo expressed hope that more towns could be added in the future.

See also Sandra Leong's lifestyle article in The Sunday Times from 16 Dec 2007 for a taste of park conenctors linking heartlands: "Great escape."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Foldable bicycle scheme approved

LTA News release (12 Feb 2009):

"As announced by Mr Teo Ser Luck, Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Transport), foldable bicycles will be allowed on the Rapid Transit System (RTS) and public buses during off-peak hours within stated guidelines with effect from 15 March 2009. The scheme will proceed after taking into account stakeholder feedback from an earlier six-month trial.

Mr Jeremy Yap, LTA's Group Director for Vehicle and Transit Licensing said, "Implementation of this scheme is possible owing to the social graciousness and mutual accommodation of commuters. As a way forward, we hope that cyclists and other commuters will continue to be considerate to one another so that more people can use our public transport system to meet their diverse travel needs. We would like to thank everyone for their participation, support and feedback."

Read the rest here.

Guidelines that will take effect on 15th March 2009:

  1. Cyclists are responsible for the safe carriage of their foldable bicycles and must stay in the vicinity of their foldable bicycles at all times.
  2. Foldable bicycles should be folded at all times in the MRT/ LRT stations, bus interchanges/ terminals and on trains and buses.
  3. Foldable bicycles should not exceed 114 cm by 64 cm by 36 cm when folded.
  4. The wheels of a foldable bicycle should be wrapped up if they are dirty or wet.
  5. Protruding parts likely to cause injury or dirty / damage property are to be covered up.
  6. Foldable bicycles should not block the aisles and doors or impede commuter movement at any time.
  7. Foldable bicycles should be carried in an upright position.
  8. Only one foldable bicycle is allowed on each bus at any one time.
  9. When travelling by train, cyclists should use the first or last car, which is less crowded.
  10. Cyclists should use the lifts and wide fare gates at MRT/ LRT stations where these are available.
  11. Foldable bicycles are not allowed on the upper deck of a bus or placed on the staircase leading to the upper deck.
  12. Foldable bicycles are allowed during the following operating hours:
    • Monday to Friday: 9.30am to 4.00pm, 8.00 pm to end of operating hours
    • All day on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays
  13. SMRT / SBS Transit station staff and bus drivers may disallow foldable bicycles if the actual situation within an MRT/ LRT station, bus interchange/ terminal or on board a train / bus does not permit foldable bicycles to be admitted safely and without inconveniencing other commuters.

Monday, February 09, 2009

"Safer cycling for everyone" - The New Paper, 09 Feb 2009

"Safer cycling for everyone," by Joyce Lim. The New Paper, 09 Feb 2009.
IN 2007, there were 551 accidents involving cyclists and 22 died as a result.

Last year was hardly any different with about half the number of accidents and deaths recorded in the first six months.

From those figures, we can derive that cyclists here are a vulnerable group of road users.

A slight brush with a car can cause them to lose momentum, stumble and even prove to be fatal.

Yet cyclists who ride on footpaths can be fined.

Just how can we make Singapore roads a safe haven for cyclists, considering the growth in the number of cyclists?

Of course, it would be ideal to have lanes specially allocated to cyclists on public roads.

But how feasible is that in land-scarce Singapore?

'Providing dedicated bicycle lanes on public roads would not be an optimal use of our limited road space,' a Land Transport Authority (LTA) spokesman told The New Paper.

'We already have dedicated lanes on our roads for buses which provide an efficient form of mass transportation.

'Under the traffic rules, cyclists are allowed to share and use bus lanes.'

Cyclists are also required to keep close to the left-hand edge of the roads so as not to obstruct vehicles moving at a faster speed.

Very often we see how our poor cyclists try to keep their balance and pedal in between the two yellow lines.

More space

'So why not expand that space by another 50cm?' asked Cor-Henk Roolvink, 44, vice-president of Safe Cycling Task Force (SCTF).

'Maybe not every road, but wider roads that are popular among cyclists?

'If there are three lanes and the speed limit is 60kmh, can we not reduce the width of each lane by a few centimetres to include a 50cm lane for cyclists? That way, buses will not have to drive in and out of their lanes to avoid hitting the cyclists. Isn't that better for the road flow too?'

SCTF, which was formed by a group of volunteers in 2005, lobbies for policy and infrastructure changes in Singapore to ensure that the roads are kept safe for cyclists, without compromising functional use.

The task force has managed to convince LTA of the rising popularity of cycling among Singaporeans and LTA has since installed 119 road signs warning motorists of the presence of cyclists along popular cycling routes in the eastern, central and western parts of Singapore.

Besides our limited infrastructure, SCTF's president, Steven Lim, feels that Singapore also lacks a more detailed code of conduct for cyclists.

Since 2007, SCTF has been trying to come up with a code of conduct for cyclists.

Said Lim, 41: 'We study the rules in other countries like the United Kingdom and draft our own highway code for cyclists. Once ready, we will try to get the Traffic Police to sanction it.'

There are still plenty of road situations that are unclear - like how some left lanes allow vehicles to go straight or turn left. If a cyclist wants to go straight and a car wants to turn left, who has the right of way?

'In such a situation, the cyclist should put out his or her hand to signal that he or she is going straight and the motorist should give way to the cyclist,' replied Lim.

And for that ideal situation to happen, our cyclists and motorists need to be educated.

Last year, the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) spearheaded an initiative to publish a safe cycling guide with input from SCTF, the Singapore Amateur Cycling Association (SACA) and the Traffic Police. A SSC spokesperson told The New Paper that they are planning to complete the book next month.


Victor Yew, president of SACA which is the national sports association for cycling, said: 'Right now, Singapore does not have a cycling culture. There are still people who don't wear helmets when they cycle on the roads.

'I have been cycling for more than 20 years. To me, when I ride, I need a helmet. When I travel to Europe, Australia and New Zealand, I see cyclists with helmets. Even if it is a short ride to the market, all the cyclists put on helmets.'

Asked if we should make it compulsory for all cyclists to wear helmets here, Yew, 42 replied: 'Enforcement is a bit harsh to me. Education can prove to be effective too.'

'Not only do we need to educate cyclists on proper road conduct but also we need to educate motorists to acknowledge cyclists as road users and have more patience with cyclists,' added Yew, who is one of the founders of cycling interest group Eat Cycle Eat and a partner of Boon Bike Supply on Changi Road.

He recalled a recent cycling trip to Germany where he was impressed by the patience shown by the other road users.

Yew was cycling with two friends on a single-lane, two-way road and a bus came up from behind him.

Instead of sounding the horn, the bus driver waited patiently for the on-coming traffic to be cleared before overtaking Yew and his friends.

If only our motorists can exercise as much patience with cyclists here.

Of course, cyclists too need to take basic precautions like putting on proper cycling gear and exercise proper road conduct such as using hand signals to warn other road users behind them.

Between 2005 and 2007, an average of 450 summonses per year had been issued to cyclists found flouting traffic rules.

Bicycle, pedestrian, speeding and road safety

A couple of news related to bicycle and road safety over the weekend:

1) Chip, or Mr Charles W Goodyear, the new CEO of Temasek holdings was known to cycle to work in Melbourne while being the boss of the world' largest mining company. I hope he will continue to do so in Singapore and give his staffs and the media a much needed "bicycle culture shock". (Weekend Today, February 7-8, front page)

2) Make road safer for the elderly (SundayTimes, February 8, page H10) reflected that most elderly people felt that pedestrian crossing light should stay longer and there should be more traffic light crossing instead of overhead bridges. While Singapore's pedestrian infrastructure is world-class, a lot more can be done for the elderly. There are many area in Singapore, like Toa Payoh, has been transformed from an industrial area to a residential area. However, many of the road design still remind the same, which was good for large trucks, but very dangerous for people, especially elderly and young children. For example, the large radius banding junction from Toa Payoh Lorong 1 into Lorong 1A is good for the cars and trucks to make a quick turn, but very dangerous for people crossing the Lorong 1A. In fact, there is no proper crossing at that spot until 50 meters down the road. The problem is, almost nobody will walk another 50 meter down the road when the food stalls they want to go is just across the road. This is human nature, ask yourself, including the one who design the crossing and foot bridges, can you assure that you never cross a road where there is no pedestrian crossing? In this respect, we are all jaywalker at one point or another.
I would like to see more consideration given to make the road junctions safer for pedestrians and other non-motorists.

3) Putting the brakes on pile-ups (SundayTimes, February 8, page H10) talk about the danger of speeding on the expressway. According to the Traffic Police there were 1748 speed related road accidents and 83 were killed. I read it as: 83 families were ruined due to someone speeding on the road, may be the driver was not careful, or on the phone, or drunk, or angry or whatever, but non of these reasons justify someone got killed, not even for the driver himself. I feel some of Singapore roads are designed for higher speed than the speed limits. I simply don't "feel" driving at 60km/h is 10 km/h above the speed limit in many well paved, wide roads in Singapore. In Europe, many of the road design deliberately make "psychological obstacles" to slow down the car speed for safer roads. Narrower road, more bending, humps, center islands are all easily adoptable. One good example is the pedestrian crossing behind Geylang Polyclinic across Aljunied Ave. 2. There is a large hump, a narrow road and clear zebra crossing. I never saw any car failed to slow down at that crossing.

4)President Arroyo issues order encouraging people to walk, bike, and ride the train
In an effort to reduce the country’s carbon footprint and improve air quality, President Arroyo has ordered transport authorities to craft a national Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) strategy for the country.
"The new paradigm in the movement of men and things must follow a simple principle: Those who have less in wheels must have more in road," the presidential order stated.
Now even the less developed countries are more bold on non-motorized transport. It's time for Singapore to catch up, not only to more developed countries like UK, France and Holland, which already have more solid policy to promote the use of bicycle on road, but also to less developed countries like China, India, Philippines and Indonesia, they too, discovered non-motorized transport is the best way to move on.