I read the news with sadness. I do not know the deceased Mr Freddy Khoo but I could sense the pain felt by his family and friends. My sympathy to his family.
My brother and I were discussing about this unfortunate accident. He lives in Vancouver; Canada. He managed to pass his driving license there even though he’s been driving in Sg for more than 20 years.
In our discussion, we came out with two useful suggestions regarding cyclists sharing our public roads.
a) Cycling Lane on Dual Carriageway replacing Road Divider
The concept of having road divider at center of road is outdated. It’s inherited from our past colonial master. Our mindset concerning road divider need to be changed. As it is, we are so short of road space, why do we need to allocate our limited road space for road divider?
Basically, the road divider serves as nothing more than aesthetic appeal for erecting lamp posts and planting of trees only. As a form of safety, it’s minimal. I feel that it’s a waste of space and it’s not justified unless we convert it to a cycling lane.
Most of our roads have center dividers. I suggest that we remove all the trees and lamp posts on the road divider. Those trees and lamp posts are already occupying the road sides. Why duplicate? Retain the road divider curbs or maybe raise them higher to accommodate cyclists.
I see no difference in terms of safety between having a 1.5 meter wide of cycling lane on the side of the main road where the bus lane is already demarcated or having it on the centre of the road in lieu of the road divider. In fact, we are creating additional space viz a viz replacing the centre road divider island with an exclusive cycling lane for this emerging segment of the commuting public.
It’s a suggestion worth looking into. Cyclists do not have to compete with pedestrians at the sidewalk. It’s safer for cyclists to use the converted cycling lane from the centre road divider on public roads. The motorists, pedestrians and cyclists shall all their own respective spaces without infringing into each other’s space.
We are so used to have road dividers on our public roads. If you go to Northern America, their roads do not have center dividers. One great advantage is in case of traffic accident, emergency services vehicles like police car or ambulance could just cross over to the opposite side of the road to reach the accident scene. Their strict traffic law stipulates that all vehicles must stop once the siren is heard. We should learn from them. We must change our ingrained stubborn mindset to accommodate new challenges and demands optimizing our limited land space coping with ever increasing demands from the commuting public.
b) Cycling lane below MRT viaduct
Cycling lane should be constructed to run parallel right below all MRT viaducts / elevated railway tracks where possible. The space below those running tracks are currently empty and not fully utilized. What a waste. We need to make full use of this stretch of space to encourage more eco-friendly cycling with additional infrastructure support such as having more bicycle lots, shower rooms and lockers to encourage smooth blending cycling and train commuting from stations to home. It’s an ideal planning and excellent investment for a better future transportation system.
So far, the government has spent billions on island-wide lift upgrading for all HDB dwellers, estate upgrading & rejuvenation. We have also spent billions on road infrastructure such as road tunnels, overhead bridges, expressways etc. The time has now arrived for the government to do the right thing by budgeting for cycling infrastructure as per above two suggestions. We need to look into the needs of all segments (includes cyclists) of the commuting public. Laws need to be formulated to calibrate mutual tolerance and sharing of our limited public road space.
Do we need to see more loss of precious life on our roads before we start looking at the problem seriously? The suggestions here deserved to be given a fair trial to try it out. Maybe, certain stretch of roads could be tried out on a pilot basis.
The political will to cater to the needs of cyclists should not be underestimated as more and more citizens take to cycling as mode of transport partly due to their growing desire to go eco-green and their health consciousness.
That tragic accident has highlighted an urgent need to look deeper into our cycling community’s needs. Therefore, the Transport Minister should not simply brush this issue aside. The government can no longer afford to ignore the desperate plea from the cycling community as evidenced from the open letters. Any future blueprint or master plan of transport infrastructure will have to take into account of all stake holders’ inputs when formulating an inclusive national transport policy.
Open letter urges PM, Minister to improve road safety for cyclists – Yahoo! News Singapore
An avid cyclist has written an impassioned open letter to Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, repeating a growing call for a 1.5-metre lane to be set aside for road cyclists.
“My friend is dead,” wrote Stephen Choy, referring to 48-year-old Freddy Khoo who was killed after a lorry hit him and two other cyclists at Loyang Avenue at about 6.50am on Saturday.
“If, only if, I had written this letter earlier, Freddy might still be able to cycle with me in the next Ironman race,” the member of cycling group Team Cychos said.
In a 10-paragraph open letter addressed to Minister Lui and which has also been emailed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Choy implored the authorities to take an “urgent re-look” into the issue of cycling safety with the increase in accidents involving cyclists in recent years.
Choy, who shared his letter on Facebook on Sunday afternoon, said he had “chanced upon the wreckage” on Saturday without knowing that the victim was his friend Khoo, whom he described as a “good, gentle man” and “a good husband and a doting father to his 5 year old son”.
In his letter, which has been shared over 1,600 times to date, Choy repeatedly called for the setting up of a 1.5m bicycle lane on the roads for cyclists to ride safely in.
“Dear Minister Lui, I am appealing to you as many before me did… From 2008 to 2011, there were a total of 70 cyclists killed. That is a horrifying average of 1.46 cyclists killed a month. Sadly, that is not enough to spur your ministry into action to make the roads safer for cyclists,” he wrote.
Referring to a recent article, the letter also dismissed recent claims by the Land Transport Authority that demarcating road cycling lanes might give both cyclists and motorists a “false sense of security” which can lead to an increase in accidents involving cyclists.
Choy, who said he “was flabbergasted by this flippant and dismissive response”, wrote, “Shame on you. Shame on you for taking the easy way out. If NParks is able to build 300km of park connectors (by 2015), surely the LTA is capable of painting a 1.5m lane on our roads. This is merely the width of 2 carton boxes. Are cyclists not worth that?”
He added, “Isn’t that the purpose of a cycling lane? To remind cyclists to stay within the allotted 1.5m and for motorists to be aware of cyclists within this lane so that we all can be safe.”
He suggested that “if having cycling lanes islandwide proves too daunting a task”, then a pilot project to paint only the more popular cycling routes could be carried out, before singling out roads such Neo Tew Avenue, Mandai Road, Upper Thomson Road and West Coast Highway.
A second letter to PM Lee on Sunday evening, penned by cycling group LoveCycling Sg, echoed Choy’s thoughts and asked that cyclists be allowed to “coexist in peace as road users”.
Recognising that “both cyclists and motorists have a part to play in making our roads safer for all”, both letters suggested that motorists be educated that cyclists, like pedestrians, have a right to use the roads.
This is not the first time cyclists in Singapore have penned letters to the authorities calling for greater road safety.
Earlier in May, LoveCycling SG had also written to Lui in hopes of getting the Ministry of Transport to initiate a “serious investigation… to improve road and junction design in favour of human life over slight speed gain of car movement”.