Friday, March 04, 2005

Cyclists may get to ride on pavements

"Cyclists may get to ride on pavements." By Li Xueying. The Straits Times, 4th March 2005.

PEDESTRIANS, watch out. Cyclists could soon be sharing pavements with you. The Traffic Police are looking into allowing them on sidewalks.

Right now, they are banned from these spaces. But many disregard the law, pedestrians have claimed in letters to The Straits Times Forum pages. If caught, such cyclists can be fined up to $1,000 or jailed for up to three months.

But insisting that they share the roads with vehicles also poses great risks to them, said MP Irene Ng (Tampines GRC), who has championed the cause of cyclists in Parliament for the past three years.

During the debate on the budget of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) yesterday, she got into gear again - and made some headway. Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs Ho Peng Kee told the House about the possibility of relaxing the pavement ban on cyclists.

Miss Ng, who is the patron of the Singapore Amateur Cycling Association, said: 'This is a positive sign from the MHA that cyclists have a share of the common space and are legitimate road users.' MP Charles Chong (Pasir Ris-Punggol) and NMP Geh Min too spoke on the safety of cyclists yesterday.

The number of cyclists involved in traffic accidents has been rising - from 341 in 1998 to 363 in 2002. The latest figure, between January and September last year, was 292. Ms Ng told The Straits Times that even if the law is relaxed, pedestrians' safety should not be compromised. She is for clearly demarcated cyclist lanes and good sign-posting. Also, some pavements may have to be widened.

A Traffic Police spokesman said that if cyclists are allowed to ride on the pavement, 'relevant laws and enforcement procedures would have to be put in place to ensure everyone's safety'.

Ms Ng revealed to The Straits Times that she is in talks with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to widen roads in Tampines to accommodate cyclists. 'We'd like to pilot this in Tampines, and if it works out well, we hope it would convince LTA to implement it nationwide.'

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