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Should cyclists have their own lane on Singapore roads?

By CheeJun on 09 Jan 2010

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Its like a grandma walking up a flight of stairs in a 'liftless and escalatorless' office building during rush hour. She doesn't take up the entire space, but her walking stick does and no one can get past from the side. People are held up, late for work and no one's happy. This is the same for the motoring community when it comes to cyclists here. The roads are far too narrow to accommodate cyclists especially at peak hours and if there is a bunch of them, chances are the whole left lane will be clogged up with traffic. And if you want them to go on the footpath, that's illegal. Its the Singaporean law against us all over again...

However, there is hope. Tampines town has announced that they are going to be Singapore's 'First Cycling Town'. And no, they won't be cycling on the road, but on expanded footpaths so that they can terrorize pedestrians instead! Some people will be shouting that its just like East Coast Park where its cycling, rollerblading, 'skate skootering', and jogging chaos. There's hardly any order. I was there just a few days ago and cyclists were invading the footpath that we two legged souls called man are allowed to walk on but the 2 wheeled folks decided to spoil my day. But, cyclists will complain about the drivers in Singapore as being one of the worst. At least 15 of them lose their lives each year to drivers who think that they are Michael Schumacher.

So where do cyclists belong? The road or the footpath? Well that answer can be found in Denmark, in the town of Drachten to be precise. The authorities removed traffic lights, road markings, a few pedestrian crossings and most of the stuff you'd find on a normal road that separates the street from the pavement. So there are no speed limit signs, lane markings, or signs that show who has the right of way. The result? Traffic is smooth, drivers slow down to anticipate the intentions of cyclists and everyone makes eye contact to confirm their intentions. Its brilliant!

To explain this phenomenon, traffic engineer Hans Monderman (the guy behind the fantastic idea in Drachten) revealed the secret to the change in the way roads were used. With the ambiguous space provided and no clear demarcations of the dimensions of the road, drivers tend to be more aware of their surroundings, and thus become more cautious. Clear demarcations give motorists a false sense of security that they have the right of way and that no other form of transport should obstruct them, which explains why ignorant motorists tend to mow down cyclists.

Even if footpaths meant that pedestrians are meant to walk on them and a cycling lane is meant for cyclists, where would all the other modes of transport go? Like skateboards, rollerblades (this is in the context of a conventional traffic light laden road in Singapore), or those skate-scooters? With numerous modes of transport these days, Singapore has to accommodate them in one way or another.

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However, there wouldn't be a need for cycling lanes if Singaporean motorists are careful enough to negotiate within the given road space, just like how there wouldn't be a need for bus lanes if motorists gave way to buses. Just look at the traffic conditions in countries like Vietnam or Indonesia and you'll see the perfect example of Mr Monderman's experiment in Denmark. So, the answer to encourage an orderly and safe journey on the roads for both the motorists and cyclists would be, organized chaos.

cyclists, tampines and 3 more...

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Written by Cheejun
Hi everyone, I’m Chee Jun and cars have always been a passion for me since young and writing about them is one way to express myself in the motoring world.

  • 1
Krado Jan 09 2010 11:59 PM
I would love to see Singapore with no speed limit signs, lane markings and traffic lights. It'll be Burnout Ultimate Real-life edition.

Please make it happen! :)
Iliketodrive Jan 10 2010 05:47 PM
no speed limit, no lane marking, no traffic lights.... erp still have? zzzzz
HOUSENUMBER Jan 10 2010 07:43 PM
1 bus lane is already enuff sleep.gif
Benarsenal Jan 17 2010 01:41 AM
I think cyclists do deserve their own space, simply because they don't really fit in with other sort of traffic.

They're too fast to share room with pedestrians, yet too slow to use roads meant for motorised vehicles (hence holding up traffic unnecessarily). Therefore, give them their own area to go about their business.
Bigg Jan 27 2010 09:43 AM
bicycle lane? hell no, this ain't China!
  • 1
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