SINGAPORE : The government will continue to develop off-road cycling paths for intra-town cycling, and see if it can do more on the infrastructure front to make it safer to cycle on the roads.
Cycling penalties are also being reviewed to ensure that they are commensurate with the severity of offences.
Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, highlighted these points in Parliament on Monday, amid calls for the government to do more to make the roads safer for cyclists.
48-year-old David Belette was hit by a car while cycling along East Coast Service Road recently.
The company director suffered multiple injuries, including a broken neck and knee cap, as well as ribs.
He is recovering but fears he may never be able to cycle again.
Mr Belette said: "We all want to use the roads. We all want to get to work safely. We all want to see our families safely. So I think the only way we are going to achieve that is when cyclists start to obey all of the traffic rules, and then the motorists see this, and then the motorists understand and realise that the cyclists have also got rights and they are also road users."
Giving an update in Parliament on Monday, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal said the total number of reported fatal and injury accidents where cyclists are involved fell by 17 per cent between 2008 and 2011.
Cyclists were found to be at least partly at fault for about half of these accidents.
The number of cyclist fatalities averaged 18 per year over the same period from 2008 to 2011.
Since the beginning of this year, there have been 11 cyclist fatalities.
Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal considers every injury as one too many.
He recognises that public education is key in shaping cyclists' and motorists' behaviour.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Traffic Police will be studying further education measures to inculcate a safe road sharing mindset.
Meanwhile, the Land Transport Authority will be producing an Intra-Town Cycling handbook as a reference for good cycling etiquette and to share safety tips.
Recognising the increased popularity of cycling, the Transport Ministry has taken steps to make cycling a safe mode of transport.
It started a S$43 million pilot programme in 2009 to build dedicated cycling paths in five HDB towns - Tampines, Pasir Ris, Taman Jurong, Sembawang and Yishun.
The government is also looking into linking up intra-town cycling paths as some cycling commuting trips are made between towns.
The cycling paths that are being built are dedicated off-road paths - keeping cyclists separate from vehicles on the road, as well as separating pedestrians from cyclists.
For certain quarters in the cycling community, these may not be enough.
Francis Chu, co-founder of LoveCyclingSg, said: "It does not solve the everyday issue of a lot of cyclists. They are using the roads to go to work, to go to the market, or to have a cup of tea with their friends, and even though there are no provisions at this moment, you can see a lot of people are using the roads, and we feel that to help this group of people, it would be good if we can start thinking about on-road cycling and treat it more seriously."
But the government is unable to accommodate all the wishes of small communities, and must think of overall needs.
Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal said: "In Singapore, land is a scarce commodity and road space is even scarcer. Most of our roads today are optimally-sized for traffic conditions and adding a dedicated lane for non-motorised traffic would require additional land, or the narrowing of existing vehicle lanes, with attendant adverse traffic impact. Given our circumstances, we have therefore prioritised off-road cycling, which is safer and can cater to greater numbers of people."
He said the government will see if there are specific locations where it can do more for on-road cycling.
The Transport Ministry is also looking at ways to raise awareness on safe road-sharing among motorists and cyclists.
The findings will be announced when its review is completed.
For the roads to be safer, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal said everyone must develop an attitude of caring for one another. And in the coming months, he intends to meet the cyclists, motorists and pedestrians to see if there is a need to review the approaches taken to ensure safe cycling in Singapore.
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