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Singapore needs integrated cycling framework, says MP

SINGAPORE — Planning for a national cycling framework should not be done in insolation, said Member of Parliament (Tampines GRC) Irene Ng in Parliament yesterday (Nov 3), as the Republic tries to keep pace with more people adopting cycling as their mode of transport.

A cyclist cycling on the pedestrian walkway at Esplanade bridge. Photo: Don Wong

A cyclist cycling on the pedestrian walkway at Esplanade bridge. Photo: Don Wong

Singapore

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SINGAPORE — Planning for a national cycling framework should not be done in insolation, said Member of Parliament (Tampines GRC) Irene Ng in Parliament yesterday (Nov 3), as the Republic tries to keep pace with more people adopting cycling as their mode of transport.

Speaking during an adjournment motion, she noted the “image problem” faced by cyclists among pedestrians and motorists, who believe that cyclists should not be riding on the roads or footpaths.

“The whole set-up, as it is, pits cyclists and pedestrians and cars against one another. If the situation is allowed to persist, the negative attitudes of motorists and pedestrians towards cyclists would harden. This would sour the ground for any government plan to promote cycling as a sustainable mode of transport,” Ms Ng said.

Planning for cycling cannot be addressed in isolation, she noted. While there have been separate initiatives for cycling, she said it is hard to make real headway unless cycling policies are integrated with transportation, town-planning, road safety, education and enforcement policies, for instance.

Calling for an integrated cycling framework and greater coordination between agencies, Ms Ng also drew examples from some of the issues that surfaced in Tampines — Singapore’s first cycling town.

While cyclists are banned from cycling on footpaths under the Road Traffic Act, Tampines is the only town that is exempted from the ban. Instead, it has a code that requires cyclists to keep left, give way to pedestrians at all times, obey traffic laws and signs, among other things.

But enforcing the cycling rules in Tampines had not been easy, given the lack of clarity and coordination among agencies, said Ms Ng. For example, it was unclear which agency should take action against reckless cycling on shared paths. As a result, the town council hired the auxiliary police to enforce the rules.

Last month, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan wrote on his blog that the Government wants cycling to go beyond the realm of recreation and become a “viable transport option” for short trips.

In his response yesterday, Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim noted the authorities’ progress on making Singapore more bicycle-friendly, such as having built close to 14,000 bicycle parking lots at all MRT stations.

Acknowledging that the rules and norms of cycling are “not entirely clear to the average person” today, Associate Professor Faishal said clear and consistent rules and norms for cycling conduct and behaviour would have to be built.

“Indeed, we need to start thinking about sharing space between pedestrians and cyclists, if we are to move ahead on cycling. Some degree of accommodation from various stakeholders, including cyclists, will be necessary,” he added.

While dedicated cycling paths and more signalised bicycle crossings will be built, the possibility of sharing footpaths and signalised crossings between pedestrians and cyclists has to be studied carefully, noted Prof Faishal.

Members of the public and various stakeholders will be consulted in the coming months to see if a clear and consistent set of cycling rules and norms can be agreed upon, he added.

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