A union representing transport workers in Singapore has issued a statement calling out cyclists who use and hog bus lanes, while seeking more enforcement action to be taken against such errant road users.
The statement via the National Transport Workers' Union (NTWU) said it "strongly discourages" cyclists riding in the bus lane when it is in operation.
Bus captains' feedback: Seeing more cyclists on roads
This was after bus captains provided feedback that they often see those on bicycles riding abreast in pairs or threes when the bus lane is operational.
The statement was issued shortly after the Ministry of Transport (MOT) announced new rules for cyclists on Oct. 20 that will be effective in 2022.
Currently, under the Road Traffic Act, cyclists can use bus lanes in a single file during bus lane operational hours.
When the new rules kick in, cyclists can still ride single file in bus lanes, but cannot exceed a group size of five cyclists in a row.
Cyclists, the statement emphasised, have grown in numbers during this pandemic, and they are "one of the most vulnerable" road users.
The union cited Traffic Police statistics of 572 traffic accidents involving bicycles in 2020, a 25 per cent increase from the 459 accidents in 2019.
Bus encroaches onto next lane to avoid cyclist
But even with cyclists travelling in a single file, buses have to take evasive action that puts other road users at risk, or at least, inconvenience them.
The statement explained that the average width of buses is 2.5m, but the minimum width of the roads are 3m, resulting in buses having to "encroach onto the next lane to overtake cyclists".
The current recommended safety distance of being 1.5m away from those riding on bicycles when overtaking them is observed by bus captains on the roads.
But NTWU said the constant encroachment of buses into the next lane poses a hazard to other users: "As it is common for buses to have to overtake the same peloton of cyclists multiple times, the repeated overtaking and encroachment into the adjacent lane will increase the risks of road traffic accidents happening, particularly during peak hours."
The union called on cyclists to avoid cycling in groups along bus lanes as it makes it difficult for bus captains to manoeuvre around them, and to avoid bus lanes during operational hours for cyclists' own safety, especially when traffic is heavy.
New rules in 2022
The MOT announced new guidelines after a six-month review of existing regulations by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP).
From 2022, cyclists cannot be in groups of more than five bicycles in length, roughly the length of a bus.
Cycling groups on roads must have at most five riders in a single file, or 10 if cycling two abreast.
On roads with two or more lanes, cyclists will still be allowed to cycle two abreast.
On single-lane roads and in bus lanes during bus lane operational hours, cyclists will also have to continue riding in single file.
Fines for errant cyclists will be doubled from S$75 to S$150.
Top photo YouTube Vesak Day Ride video