Friday, February 25, 2005

Reduce car, increase bicycle use for daily communiting

Following extracted from my letter to the Goverment (2004-08-31) suggesting increase bicycle use for daily commuting:
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... Singapore has done many good for the people and has been an inspiration model for many countries in many respects (e.g. CPF, COE, Garden City, Security, education, ERP, corruption free, and more...). This was the main reason we decided to move to Singapore eight years ago and is an important factor that is keeping us staying here. Therefore when I try to think of possible improvement I discovered that it is not easy not to risk the chances of upsetting some of the good systems already in place. Due to the nature of my job, I am used to identify big opportunities with relative small effort. Innovation, in commercial sense, is to achieve high sustainable gains with relatively low cost. It is with this frame of mind I am making the following suggestion with passion:

Reduce car, increase bicycle use for daily communiting

I am suggesting this based on following considerations:

  • Health
  • Physical inactivity is a major threat to people live in urban area and is recently confirmed (WHO, US-CDC) as danger as smoking. However, unlike smoking, this threat is not really known in public and it seems even harder to quit 'physical inactivity' then to quit smoking.
  • Daily minimum 30 minutes exercise is the best way to combat the many symptoms of physical inactivity including: obesity, diabetics, heart diseases, colon cancers, hyper tensions and many more.
  • Many advance countries is enhancing (i.e. Holland, Denmark) or adopting a pro-cycling policy (i.e. U.K., New York) in order to make it easy for people to choose this healthy form of commuting.

  • Medical, insurance cost
  • This is currently a hot topic for public debate and is a major concern for the aging population. If the cycling population increase, it is easy to anticipate that the public health will improve and the direct effect is lower burden in medical and insurance cost.

  • Environment
  • More bicycles and less private cars help to reduce air pollution and traffic noise significantly.
  • Each private car produce a lot of heat when driving on the road, less car also contribute to less ambient temperature
  • Bicycle path is less demanding for road space and heavy duty flyovers. Therefore more cultural buildings can be maintained providing good connection to the pass.
  • Less dependent on gas energy

  • Social
  • Cyclists can relates to each other much better then drivers in cars
  • Cycling to school and cycling to work can bring people together
  • A bicycle friendly Singapore helps to attract environment conscious, high quality talents from abroad

  • Transportation
  • Cycling is the most energy efficient form of moving people over short distance; it is therefore an ideal compliment to public mass transportation which is the most efficient form of moving people over longer distance.
  • Current priority of LTA is first public mass transit, then buses, then Taxi, then private car. Bicycle as a mode of transportation should take the third place after buses because of its efficiency and many other benefits list here.

  • Contribution to other countries and opportunity
  • If Singapore succeeded in introducing and benefiting from a pro-cycling policy, it will definitely be look upon as yet another inspiration by many countries. I speak for my experience during my time in Holland, and Asian developed country as Singapore can serve as a real inspiration for many similar cities in Asia, including China and India.

  • Commercial and economic
  • The experience gained and the local (bicycle related) service industry developed can be expended to other countries.
  • COE- current innovative way of handling car ownership in Singapore generates a very profitable operation due to COE system. It works partially due to the human desire of exclusive items. However, there is no reason why it can not be the same for 'luxurious' bicycles.
  • However profitable the COE operation is, it can not be denial that when importing a car, it is a net expense from Singapore earning. For same amount of money of importing a simple car (~30K), we can import enough bicycles for 10 families.
  • More valuable space: unlike shops along a motorway, shops along a bicycle path can benefit from the increased traffic easily without require dedicated parking space near by.
  • Tourist- a bicycle friendly Singapore can be a tourist paradise. Imagine how attractive it can be for the visitors if they can roam freely around the island to visit different attractions? It will be a real unique experience for any visitor.
  • Promoting cycling is much more then just importing bicycles. We can conduct cycling tour for tourist, bicycle training for children, cycle-together-to-work schemeā€¦ there are many innovation and service opportunities. It can be an important local industry that provides jobs for many people.
  • It is known that the physical health of cyclist worker are 10 years younger than their physical-inactive counter parts, they are more alert at work and is more productive.

Conclusion

It is rare that a simple idea can have so many positive impact and so little negative consequences. However, it does take an open mind and personal experience to appreciate the full impact of the idea.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Safe cycling

"Ultimately, the main point is that all who use Singapore roads should have that assurance that if they do their part, their lives will be safeguarded."

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs, Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee, 16th October 2003. 10th Parliamentary Debates Singapore. Official Report, Volume 76 No. 22 - pdf.

See: Integrating cycle paths into traffic system" and
"Accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians".

10th Parliamentary debates 2003 - "Accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians"

10th Parliamentary Debates Singapore. Official Report, Volume 76 No. 22, 16th October 2003. Oral Answers to Questions: 13-15. Accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians (Education programme and safety measures to reduce)

13. Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong asked the Minister for Home Affairs, in view of the rising number of cyclists involved in traffic accidents and of Singaporeans taking up cycling, whether his Ministry will embark on an extensive traffic education programme for recreational and commuter cyclists to teach them street skills and traffic regulations.

14. Mr Ahmad Mohd Magad asked the Minister for Home Affairs whether measures are in place or being considered (i) to curb the recent increase in traffic accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists, particularly within residential areas; (ii) to reduce the rash and intolerant driving behaviour of the driving population manifested in aggressive driving, failure to give way and sounding the horn unnecessarily; (iii) to demarcate bicycle and vehicular traffic lanes within residential areas to enable the sharing of the roads in an organised manner; and (iv) to implement lower speed limits within school zones and specified busy school hours.

15. Ms Braema Mathiaparanam asked the Minister for Home Affairs (a) how many fatal accidents occurred at pedestrian crossings, in the last two years; and (b) what are his Ministry's plans to ensure that motorists slow down as they approach such crossings.

The Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs (Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee) (for the Minister for Home Affairs): Sir, may I take Question Nos. 13, 14 and 15 together?

Mr Speaker: Yes.

Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Sir, the number of accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians has remained stable over the last two years, averaging about 360 and 890 respectively per year. For the period January to August this year, compared to the same period last year, there were 241 accidents involving cyclists compared to 222 last year. There was an increase, but not as large an increase as Ms Irene Ng indicated.

Accidents involving cyclists crept up from 222 last year to 241 this year, January to August. For accidents involving pedestrians, there were 533 this year, compared to 641 accidents last year. So that has come down.

16 and 17 pedestrians were killed at pedestrian crossings in the years 2001 and 2002 respectively.

Sir, indeed, we all agree that cyclists and pedestrians are two vulnerable groups of road users. In line with Ms Irene Ng’s suggestion, Traffic Police has been educating them on safe cycling habits, tips for safer use of roads, and on traffic regulations. Traffic Police regularly conducts talks and exhibitions on the basic do’s and don’ts of cycling for recreational and commuter cyclists of all ages.

These talks and exhibitions cover safe cycling tips, such as wearing a protective gear, taking extra care when approaching road junctions and using proper hand signals. Tips are also provided to pedestrians on how to be seen and how to be safe. Particular effort is made to reach out to senior citizens who are usually less agile and responsive to dangers on the road and to children who are less conspicuous when crossing the roads due to their small build.

A total of 66 road safety talks and exhibitions, including segments on safe cycling, were conducted from January to August this year. These were conducted at primary and secondary schools, community and shopping centres and at army camps, reaching out to more than 37,000 people.

Another key outreach is the Shell Traffic Games that has, since its introduction in 1981, been held annually and which has reached out to about one million school children. And indeed this year, it was expanded to cover more children and also held indoors, in conjunction with Children's Day.

On road safety in general, besides the annual road safety campaigns which are educational in nature, Traffic Police also takes tough and intensive enforcement actions to deter traffic violators. Besides regular patrols and special operations, Traffic Police also leverages on technology such as the use of static and portable cameras to keep our roads safe for road users.

Traffic Police issued over 200,000 traffic summonses between January to August this year, an increase of about 13% compared to the same period last year. Mr Ahmad Magad suggested lowering speed limits on roads within school zones and during specified hours. A similar concern was raised by Ms Braema Mathiaparanam, who asked about the plans to ensure that motorists slow down as they approach pedestrian crossings.

Sir, there are already traffic signs in place to warn motorists to slow down and drive carefully when entering a school zone. Road humps have also been erected to slow vehicles down as they approach school zones as well as pedestrian crossings. Signages and road markings are also used in some major roads where it is not practical to have road humps. In addition, when these measures cannot be implemented to facilitate pedestrian crossing, pedestrian overhead bridges are erected.

Traffic Police will continue working with the Land Transport Authority to explore various measures, including lowering speed limits where appropriate, to enhance road safety around schools.

Sir, however, I am sure all in this House would agree that keeping our roads safe is not the work of Traffic Police alone. Traffic Police officers cannot be everywhere, every time, to keep an eye on road-users. A change in road users’ behaviour and mindset to create a safe road environment for all can only come about through the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders, especially motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. Therefore, Traffic Police will continue to galvanise, through its various campaigns, more ground efforts.

For example, following the recent accidents involving school children at Pasir Ris, I understand that Mr Ahmad Magad led a group comprising representatives from the Land Transport Authority, the Housing and Development Board, the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council and the Pasir Ris Neighbourhood Police Centre, to visit the accident site and its surrounding areas to explore ways to improve road safety there. I am sure other grassroots advisors do chip in too.

Another example is the Safe Drive Zones, a community-based road safety programme developed under the Community Safety and Security Programme (CSSP). This project aims to improve the safety of road users around schools, town centres and neighbourhood centres, by having volunteers from the community keep a watch on children and the elderly crossing the roads.

Hence, let us all do our part. On its part, let me assure the House that Traffic Police will continue to work closely with fellow professional agencies, like the Land Transport Authority, to improve road safety in Singapore.


Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong: Sir, can I ask the Senior Minister of State whether there is a study done on the bicycle accidents that have taken place and who tends to be at fault so that we can tackle the weak points?

Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Sir, it is a mixture of reasons. One reason is that motorists have not been keeping a good and proper lookout. There are other reasons, for example, the cyclists cycle across the pedestrian crossing, as has happened before. It is the fault of the cyclists.

I think it is a matter of education and of being aware of each other's presence. If we take this collective approach, then the well-being of all road-users can be safeguarded.

Mdm Cynthia Phua (Aljunied): Sir, do we have a breakdown of the statistics of those that are involved in the accidents, for example, the children, the various adult age groups or even the foreign workers - I see a lot of foreign workers cycling around the estates - so that education efforts could be targeted?

Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Sir, in terms of the accidents involving cyclists, the number has crept up slightly. In terms of fatalities that have come up this year, most of them did not involve children. Once in a while we may have a child being hurt, and that catches our attention. But the vast number of cyclists will be adult cyclists. I think it is better to really cover the ground, because we are also concerned about children. And, indeed, in terms of children's awareness of road dangers, we cannot take that for granted.

Let us take this current approach where Traffic Police will cover the ground working with various agencies to bring home the important message of not only safe cycling but also safe use of the roads and safe driving.

Ms Braema Mathiaparanam (Nominated Member): Sir, I am curious about the educational programmes that are given to pedestrians. I am asking this because right now there is a misreading at pedestrian crossings.

The elderly person or the child does not know whether to cross or to wait. The motorist is also having that same dilemma. I think there is a lack of consistency and the pedestrians need to be informed that it is within their right to make a crossing. To have 16-17 people dying at pedestrian crossings is not a joke.

Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Sir, there is no confusion on the rules. But on the ground, it is important to do the right thing in a certain situation. For example, at a pedestrian crossing, the pedestrian will have the right of way. But our advice is that pedestrians must also be careful, because there may be drivers of cars who may not see you or who may be speeding or the driver may be drunk.

If that happens, whilst a pedestrian may have the law on his side, he also suffers. So let us take this approach where we will continue to educate all concerned. It is better to be safe than sorry.

For example, for young children and for the elderly, the advice to them is that when they cross a pedestrian crossing, they should raise their hands to catch attention. It is not required by the law. But our advice to all, including parents with children, is they may want to do that little bit extra.

I have been to many Traffic Police functions over the years encouraging Singaporeans to be better motorists and better road users. If all of us can internalise it and if each of us with our own circle of contacts, whether as parents or siblings or children, can keep reminding our loved ones to be careful on the roads, that will go some way.

Dr Chong Weng Chiew (Tanjong Pagar): Sir, recently, I have seen a large number of bicycles equipped with self-installed motors travelling on the streets. Can I find out how aggressive is the authority clamping down on such activities? Do we see a need for stricter licensing requirements for such vehicles? I believe this is partly related to the Ministry of Transport.

Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Sir, this is under the Land Transport Authority. I think there is a categorisation where if it is above a certain capacity, then they will have to register. In terms of the details, the
Member has to file a question with the Ministry of Transport.

Dr Wang Kai Yuen (Bukit Timah): Sir, would the Minister consider introducing legislation in the House to increase the penalty on errant drivers in situations where they are clearly at fault, and also to shift the onus of blame in such accidents on to the motorists, in favour of the pedestrian or cyclist?

Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Just to clarify on the Member's question, is he asking us to raise the punishment when the accident involves pedestrians and cyclists?

Dr Wang Kai Yuen: The motorist is at fault.

Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: It all depends on the circumstances. There are enough sections in our various Acts, because we can charge a person under the Road Traffic Act or under the Penal Code. There is also a whole range of possible sections.

So, for example, we can charge a person for careless driving or dangerous driving. In terms of the arsenal available for punishing errant motorists, it is there. For example, the Member, who has been in this House for a long time, will know that, in fact, the penalty for drivers who exceed the speed limit by more than 50 km per hour, the demerit points go up and his susceptibility to being suspended also goes up.

Over the years, we have finetuned the range of punishments. What is really now needed is awareness that everybody can play a part.

Dr Wang Kai Yuen: Sir, the reason why I ask is that I recall an accident case involving a lady driver and a woman with a baby at the pedestrian crossing of a road junction. In that case, when it came before the court, it was found that the pedestrian was at fault. From that judgment, it seems that if a person is at fault and gets killed, it is his problem. I am asking whether we can introduce legislation in this House to shift the blame on to the motorist regardless of who is at fault.

Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: I think each case will depend on its own facts. When the case goes before the court, the respective lawyers will argue the case. Sometimes, one party is wholly negligent. Sometimes, there is contributory negligence. The laws are there. I think it is better that the facts are presented before the judge who will then make a decision as to whether one side is wholly liable or both sides are liable and how to apportion the liability.

Mr Chiam See Tong (Potong Pasir): Sir, I wonder whether the Minister is willing to tighten and enforce the traffic laws in relation to cyclists. I notice that cyclists are cycling haphazardly on the roads. They turn and cross the road wherever they like. I also notice that bicycles are badly maintained.

In the dark roads, many of them do not have any light at all. I live at a place where the road is going down a slope and I can hear these cyclists screeching down the road.

Mr Speaker: Do you mean "bicycles"?

Mr Chiam See Tong: It shows that their brakes are not in order.

Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Sir, in fact, we do have the Road Traffic (Bicycle) Rules where rules have been set down governing cycling behaviour. For example, if you are cycling at night, your bicycle must have proper lighting. Also, you cannot cycle against the flow of traffic. The rules are there. It is a matter of enforcement. The Traffic Police is mindful of the need to ensure road safety.

Of course, it is also a matter of usage of resources because, in terms of road users that cause the greatest harm, it is really the motorists who speed or drink drive. So, let us leave it to the Traffic Police to do their job.

Ultimately, the main point is that all who use Singapore roads should have that assurance that if they do their part, their lives will be safeguarded.

Mr Steve Chia Kiah Hong: Two supplementary questions, Mr Speaker, Sir. First, can the Minister clarify if riding with slippers or sandals on the road constitutes a traffic offence? If it is, what is the rationale behind it?

Secondly, will the Ministry look into capturing more specific data on accidents for data analysis so as to better understand the likely causes which lead to an accident? So far, we read of newspaper reports saying that the motorcyclist lost control of his vehicle. It seems irrational that the motorcyclist happily riding on the road suddenly loses control. Something must have caused the accident. Maybe more specific data could be captured for analysis.

Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Is the Member talking about motorcyclists or pedal cyclists?

Mr Steve Chia Kiah Hong: Motorcyclists.

Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: I think Mr Steve Chia rides a motorcycle. There is no prohibition against what kind of attire he should wear. It is more a question of education. Hence, it is common sense that a motocyclist should wear something that will not impede his control of the vehicle. I think we cannot regulate the T's and the I's. Ultimately, it is how the motorcyclist controls his machine. I think that is important. And this is where education comes in. Ultimately, if a person knows that what he does is really for his own safety, he would take the necessary precautions.

10th Parliamentary debates 2003 - "Integrating cycle paths into traffic system"

Parliamentary debates 2003 - "Integrating cycle paths into traffic system"


10th Parliamentary Debates Singapore. Official Report, Volume 76 No. 22, 16th October 2003. Oral Answers to Questions: 12. Integrating cycle paths into traffic system



Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong asked the Minister for Transport, in view of the rising number of cyclists involved in traffic accidents and of Singaporeans taking up cycling, will his Ministry study how developed countries such as Holland and Germany have brought down bicycle accidents drastically by integrating cycle paths into the traffic system in a coordinated network for both leisure cyclists and commuters.


The Minister of State for Transport (Dr Balaji Sadasivan) (for the Minister for Transport): Mr Speaker, Sir, in land scarce Singapore, our limited road space should be used for the efficient movement of people and goods. Because of this, we have only set aside dedicated road space for bus lanes and, that too, only for certain hours of the day and at certain locations. Bus lanes are justified because buses carry many more people than other vehicles. It would not be cost-effective nor physically feasible, in view of our limited land, to set aside dedicated road space for other vehicles, including bicycles.

Although we do not have the luxury of providing dedicated bicycle paths, as in Holland and Germany, we continue to study others' experiences and explore measures that help to enhance the safety of our road users, including cyclists.

Members may wish to note that the number of injuries involving cyclists has remained stable in recent years. Nonetheless, both Traffic Police and LTA will continue to take measures to reduce such incidents. These include the use of traffic calming measures, such as speed humps, education of road users, and enforcement of traffic rules.

Recently, a national road safety workshop was also conducted, with the participation of many concerned parties, to brainstorm new ideas that can further improve the safety of cyclists, amongst other vulnerable road users. These ideas include enhanced regulations on bicycles and cyclists, new traffic rules and more public education.

Public education is particularly important, as both cyclists and motorists play a crucial part in preventing road accidents. The ideas are being studied by the relevant authorities.


Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong: Sir, that Singapore is land scarce is a given. The question is: how do we help, in terms of physical infrastructure, roads and space, to reduce the number of cyclists dying on the roads? Just in the first half of this year, 11 cyclists died, compared to five in the same period last year. This is a high number that we should not tolerate. If it means building a few more lanes to schools or markets, why do we not invest in them?


Dr Balaji Sadasivan: Mr Speaker, Sir, in countries like Germany and Holland, they do build such special lanes. I have been to Germany and Holland. In Amsterdam, they have special bicycle lanes and cyclists rule the road. The sight of cyclists ruling the road and motorists being given a lower priority is most appealing.

For one thing, it is environmentally friendly. Cyclists only release carbon dioxide. There is no carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide and particulate matter that combustion engines release. The puffing and wheezing of cyclists and the sound of swirling bicycle wheels is less jarring on the ears than the raw motorcycles and motorcars.

Cycling is also a good form of exercise. By cycling to work, you accomplish two goals at the same time. You can get your exercise and get to work at the same time.

But the reality is, in Singapore, land is scarce. Less than 1% of Singaporeans use the bicycle for regular travel. Our land is limited. If we designate special bicycle lanes for the less than 1% of travellers for the use of bicycles, it would be at the expense of either existing road lanes or pedestrian ways. If we convert one road lane in our roads for cyclists, it means that 99% of Singaporeans who use buses, cars or motorcycles may be tied up in a gridlock of traffic jams.

If we convert pedestrian ways to cycle lanes, then our pedestrians would have nowhere to walk and would be in danger of being knocked down by bicycles.

Even if we have special bicycle lanes, how many Singaporeans will cycle to work or the market? Our weather is different from the temperate climate which is present in Germany and Holland. Cycle for five minutes in the hot and humid afternoon and you will be soaked in sweat. If you do not shower at your destination, you will smell of stale sweat for the rest of the day. And, of course, ladies will have to redo their face because their make-up will come off.

Sir, cycling is still for Germany and Holland, but for Singapore, it is not practical.


Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong: Sir, I feel that the Minister of State might have painted a too simplistic picture and also in giving a trade-off that we need not have to make, that is, a trade-off between cyclists ruling the road and not even having space for pedestrians to walk. I think we can meet the demands of the different groups without sacrificing the principle that we have to use our land wisely.

I think the seriousness of the problem might not have sunk down to the Minister of State.


Mr Speaker: What is your question, Ms Ng?


Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong: I would invite the Minister of State to Tampines where we can see many housewives bringing their children to school on bicycles. I would ask the Minister of State to seriously consider doing a survey, going down to the ground, to schools, wet markets and MRT tracks, and see how commuters have been using the roads, and on how to make the roads safer for the cyclists who are trying to save money by not taking buses because transport costs are going up. So they are taking up cycling.

There is also a bigger group of people who are keen to cycle. I would urge the Minister of State to take
this seriously and to please help the cyclists to negotiate on the road without risks to their lives.


Dr Balaji Sadasivan: Mr Speaker, Sir, we take the safety of cyclists seriously. Earlier this month, on 2nd and 3rd October, a major conference was held, ie, the Asian Development Bank's ASEAN Road Safety Programme. Experts and various stakeholders on road safety were at this meeting. A lot of brainstorming was done about ideas that can reduce the number of fatalities on the road. We are considering these ideas and the
various authorities are looking at them.


Mr Sin Boon Ann: Sir, I thought the earlier question asked by my colleague was: how does the Ministry intend to reduce the number of cycle deaths because, in the same comparable period, the number of fatalities has actually gone up? Can the Minister of State give an indication of the steps that the Ministry is contemplating in this regard?


Dr Balaji Sadasivan: Overall, the fatalities on our roads per capita are lower than most developed countries like the United States, and it has come down, as compared to about 10 years ago. Among the ideas that were generated were more stricter rules on cyclists and more education for cyclists and other road users.


Mr Steve Chia Kiah Hong: Mr Speaker, Sir, would the Minister of State consider a trial bicycle lane in the MP's constituency to see how good is the demand for bicycle lanes? That may solve the problem.


Dr Balaji Sadasivan: If there is a Member of Parliament who requests for bicycle lanes in his constituency, we will study that.


Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong: Sir, the Minister of State has mentioned the number of fatalities, saying that it has not changed much. But I would ask the Minister to look at another figure, which I would think is more telling, and that is the number of cyclists involved in traffic accidents.

From 1998, it was 266 but it rose to 363 last year. It is a drastic rise and whether one dies or not, it is a matter of luck. But the question is how to reduce the number of cyclists involved in accidents. We should be looking at the number of cyclists involved in traffic accidents.


Dr Balaji Sadasivan: I agree with the Member that cyclists are a risk group. Once upon a time, motorcyclists were a major risk group and the use of safety helmets has greatly reduced the number of deaths. We need to consider what else we can do to reduce the number of fatalities amongst cyclists.


Mr Speaker: I think we have "cycled" far enough. Your next question, Ms Irene Ng.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

"Singapore committed to cutting carbon emissions"

"Singapore committed to cutting carbon emissions." The Straits Times, 11 Feb 2005.


SINGAPORE has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol but will still work towards lowering carbon emission levels.

A spokesman for the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources said yesterday that while Singapore would not be subject to binding reduction targets in carbon dioxide emissions even if it ratified the protocol, it was committed to improving its carbon efficiency - a term used to describe how much carbon a country emits for every dollar of gross domestic product.

'As an export-oriented economy, a large fraction of our total energy (which results in CO2 emissions) is used to produce goods which are exported and not consumed by the local population,' said the spokesman.

He added that Singapore is not ruling out acceding to the Kyoto Protocol, and is studying the implications and timing of such an accession.

Singapore's carbon efficiency is better than that of developed countries like Canada and Australia, and it has plans to improve 1990 levels by 25 per cent in the next seven years.

Initiatives to achieve this include greater use of natural gas to replace oil-fired power plants for generating electricity, promoting energy audits to industry, and the use of public transport.

There are also plans to extend energy labelling for air-conditioners and refrigerators - which tell buyers how energy-efficient the products are - to other household appliances.


Still, environmentalists here said yesterday that they were 'disappointed' that Singapore was one of those countries which did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

'The environmental, social and economic damage that climate change will inflict cannot be addressed reactively and will dwarf any potential economic losses brought on by the ratification of Kyoto,' said Mr Howard Shaw, the executive director of the Singapore Environment Council.

Nature Society president and Nominated Member of Parliament Geh Min suggested aggressive promotion of the use of energy-efficient air-conditioners and fuel-efficient and cleaner vehicles in the form of higher tax rebates, and even cycling as a substitute form of public transport.



Mr Shaw said: 'The area that presents a bigger challenge is within our homes and in nurturing a carbon-conscious society.'

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Who gets killed on the road?

Originally posted on "Otterman speaks...", 02 Oct 2003. Reproduced, updated and stats table appended.

According to the traffic statistics in the Singapore Police Force's Annual Report 2000/1, motorcyclists and their pillion riders are the single largest road user group involved in accidents - accounting for 46% of road fatalities in 2000/1 and 52% of people slightly or seriously injured. The sheer numbers make them a specific target group for road safety measures by the police. Trends point to peak hour accidents and younger riders.

But if you look at fatalities amongst all accidents for 2000/1, the fatality rate for all accidents is 2.1% (407/19,308). This is contributed largely by the fatalities by motorbikes and their pillion riders at 1.9% (187/10,029). Motorcar drivers and passengers are relatively safe at 1% (47/4,584). Cyclists on the other hand have a 3.9% (27/689) fatality in reported accidents and for pedestrians, its 6.1% (113/1,852)!

[Update} In 2002/3, there is an increase in fatalities from accidents in most groups including the two most vulnerable: 6.3% (0.2% increase) for pedestrians and pedal cyclists see the largest increase of 0.6% to 4.5% (see 2002/3 data below.

I am missing estimates for number of road users by user group. Considering the relatively small number of cyclists on the road, the 27 fatalities are high. But I can understand Traffic Police being more concerned, for now, about the 10,000+ injury-resulting accidents involving motorbikes.