Those cycling on Singapore roads will face stricter rules and regulations next year, including increased composition fines for errant cyclists.
The Ministry of Transport (MOT) has accepted the Active Mobility Advisory Panel's (AMAP) fifth review of the rules for road cyclists, which was submitted on Oct. 1.
The review involved studying practices overseas, conducting public consultations and focus groups, as well as a survey.
MOT stated in an Oct. 20 media release that the review was "timely" in light of the increased popularity of cycling recently, which has led to more interactions between cyclists and other road users, and in turn sparked concerns about road safety.
According to Melvin Yong, the Executive Secretary of the National Transport Workers' Union, there were 572 traffic accidents involving bicycles in 2020, an increase of about 25 per cent from 459 accidents in 2019.
Limiting cycling groups
Currently, cyclists are allowed to ride in twos on the road, provided that they are not riding on a single-lane road, or in a bus lane during bus lane hours.
AMAP has recommended that this should be allowed to continue, for cyclists' safety and visibility, which the government has agreed to.
The government has also decided to adopt one of AMAP's recommendations to limit cycling groups to a maximum length of five bicycles due to space constraints on Singapore's roads.
This means a maximum of five cyclists if the group is riding single-file, or a maximum of 10 cyclists if the group is riding two abreast.
This rule will be imposed from Jan. 1, 2022.
The government has also agreed with AMAP's list of best practices for cycling groups. While these are not mandatory, they should be followed where possible:
- Cycling groups to keep a safe distance of approximately two lamp posts (or around 30m) between groups, and
- Motorists to have a minimum distance of 1.5m when passing cyclists on roads.
Enforcement action will also be stepped up against errant cyclists.
From Jan. 1, 2022, the composition fines for such individuals will be raised from S$75 to S$150.
For more serious cases, the cyclist may be charged in court and face a fine of up to S$1,000 and/or a jail term of up to three months for the first offence.
For a second or subsequent offence, the cyclist may face a fine of up to S$2,000 and/or a jail term of up to six months.
Not the time to introduce licensing of cyclists
The AMAP also studied whether whether cyclists should be made to register their bicycles and get licenses to ride on the road — a topic that has been raised over the years, and was brought up by former Temasek CEO Ho Ching in April.
AMAP said in its review that there is "little evidence" overseas that such efforts are effective in deterring errant cycling and improving road safety, and described it as a "resource-intensive regime".
Additionally, these measures could also hinder the take-up of cycling in Singapore, and would "disproportionately affect more vulnerable groups of cyclists, including seniors and individuals who rely on bicycles for work and commute".
According to the media release, the government concurs that licensing and registration of cyclists and bicycles respectively "should not be introduced at this juncture".
Reiterating AMAP's statement, it said:
"Besides affecting the majority of law-abiding cyclists, there is little evidence from overseas case studies and Singapore’s past experience that licensing of cyclists is effective in promoting road safety or deterring errant cyclists."
It also acknowledged AMAP’s recommendation that all cyclists should be strongly encouraged to purchase third-party liability insurance to protect themselves from potential financial liabilities.
The government stated that it will continue working with insurance providers and cycling groups to promote the take up of third-party liability insurance.
In the meantime, to promote road safety and raise awareness of the new rules and guidelines, the government will continue to partner stakeholders in its public education and outreach efforts.
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