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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

1.5metres and Cycling Lane

Another weekend, another cyclist died in an road accident. According to reports, this is the 12th death in 8 months! Unlike the last accident where a young man was the victim, this time round it is an older guy with a pregnant wife and a young son. His death has finally awaken the cycling community from its inertia and raised much more noise than it has done previously.
Picture from
As of time of writing, in as far as I know, there is now at least 2 open letters to the PM and to the Transport Minister. There have also been some feedback to some of the MP via their facebook pages and there are also 2 online petitions. Essentially, the cyclists want a safer road to ride on. Top of their wish list is a dedicated cycling lane at selected roads, increased enforcements against reckless drivers and harsher punishments for errant drivers. 

Will LTA stick to the old song and said they will monitor the situation and eventually do nothing except for maybe a short perfunctory period of increased enforcement? Will the cyclists succeed this time round in getting their demands met? I suspect not.

Frankly I am not optimistic. My guess is that LTA will repeat that cyclists should travel on the island wide park connector and the cycling path sprouting out in some HDB estates. Even if another dozen more die in the next 6 months, I don't think they will do anything unless some higher up intervene. Let me try and second guess their excuses:

1. Cyclists should ride on the park connector and the cycling path. The park connector are clearly marked out and pedestrian and cyclists should stick to the designated path.

2. There is no space on the road to create bicycle lane.  Currently, each road lane is about 3.6m wide on average. A typical car takes up 2m, a truck slightly more. Some clearance of about 0.5m is required on both side of the vehicle. Thus not sufficient space. To create the space, the roads will have to be widened considerably, turfs have to be removed blah blah blah.... there is no budget for this.

3. Traffic Police and LTA are constantly and vigorously monitoring the situation and will not hesitate to take necessary actions to enforce traffic laws.

4. Last but not least, the cycling population and motorist should learn to respect each other and share the roads. Education is the key and the LTA will step up efforts to educate both parties.

Look out for these stock replies coming soon to a paper near you. So forgive me if I don't think the petitions, the many web postings and even the few ministers that have spoken out will be able to force the change. The way I see it, changes will come about only when somebody big shot or important enough is hit. Only then will the gahmen wake up and do something! I hope I am wrong. 

Someone said I am evil for saying that but I think that is the reality. Right now what is lacking is the political or economic reasons for the gahmen to do anything. Somebody compared this to the maids falling their death and how the gahmen put into place a legislation to curb that. That arises because foreign maids falling to their death in our country is politically sensitive. Or maybe if Singapore decides to go big time into hosting a Tour de Singapore and needs to clean up our reputation. Will that day come? Don't hold your breathe!

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