Following the unfortunate deaths of a number of Singaporean cyclists, as well as the corresponding proliferation of online notes and commentaries pertaining to new legislation or policy recommendations, it seems as if there is renewed impetus for relevant agencies to do something. Not quite curiously, the solutions advanced by the cycling lobby are not exactly groundbreaking; from the drawing of cycling lanes to the heightened education of drivers, significant headway has not been made. At the present moment, individuals appear to be more concerned with lobbing criticisms and assorted anecdotal experiences about how cyclists or drivers – in general – are reckless, inconsiderate, vice versa.
Courses Or Licences For Non-Motorist Cyclists?
As a constructive starting point, the plan for courses or licences for non-motorist cyclists are premised upon two primary justifications: first, so that cyclists can better protect themselves if they are cognisant of traffic rules and regulations; second, this would then provide the basis for authorities to introduce more rigorous campaigns to educate both drivers and cyclists.
Previous commentaries have called for all cyclists to undergo such programmes, but my primary concern is that non-motorist cyclists do not have the knowledge to practise defensive riding on the road. We are looking at a very specific target audience, within a particular domain. Without the information on how to give way, how to signal, which lanes to keep to et cetera, they are putting themselves in danger.
Opponents to such a proposition could argue that these courses or licences could dampen general interest in cycling, despite its multitude of environmental and health benefits. But this is a necessary evil, if cyclists desire to minimise the risks involved. Road rules are not “common sense”, especially on roads that are becoming more congested and dangerous. This accessibility is a small price to pay for increased security and safety, and is only applicable for cyclists wishing to travel on public roads. They need to recognise their immense vulnerability.
Once this common understanding has been established, it would be in order for the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to institute more comprehensive education campaigns to empower both drivers and cyclists. This could, for instance, include emphasis on sections dealing with cyclists and pedestrians in the theory tests, social media campaigns detailing traffic rules and guidelines, as well as pointers to help elementary cyclists keep themselves safe. Unfortunately, on cyberspace, many members of the public are so obsessed with proving their propositions – that errant cyclists are to blame, that careless motorists are at fault – that they forget that collaborative approaches are the way forward. We have to move from this divide.