I’m a cyclist, I make no apologies for it, although sometimes in Singapore, I often feel I need to.
When your average Singaporean finds out I ride a bike on the main road, they cry “whoaaah dangerous lah!” But is it really that dangerous?
The last government statistics show that 17 cyclists died on the roads in Singapore in 2015. Compare this to London England where the average number of deaths per year is just over 17, (data taken from the past 2003-2013). So cycling is Singapore is arguably comparatively as dangerous as London, not a place most people would associate with dangerous roads! Let us not forget that in England, it is illegal to cycle on the path. Therefore 100% of the cyclists are sharing their space with cars and trucks with big scary teeth.
When I cycle to work I use the roads, why?….The paths are full of people walking: because that is what they are designed for. On my short 11km journey I see perhaps another 50 cyclists. Am I worried I will die that morning?… NO, and this is why:
I’m an engineer and I like maths, especially probability (some say I’m a nerd, don’t get me started on Star Wars). Probability tells me that I will make it home on a night to give my wife the loving attention she so graciously deserves. The percentage of cyclists that die on the road every year is tiny. But of those cyclists; who are the most vulnerable?
- Idiots who are not wearing helmets.
- Cyclists wearing headphones), effectively rendering themselves deaf to dangers around them.
- Those who consider themselves mobile discos with Bluetooth speakers.
- One handed riders carrying umbrellas like some weird kind of Mary Poppins.
- Invisible riders with no lights. (In the dark, we cannot see you, you NEED lights)
- Riders who think red traffic lights don’t apply to them.
- Riders catching Pokemon or watching movies.
- Those who like to play chicken with oncoming cars.
- Those who cycle in the gutter.
- Those that think their flip flops are a suitable substitute for brakes.
- Those who don’t know what a hand signal is for. (It is essential that riders signal using their arm when turning corners)
Now if you don’t understand why any of behaviour above makes those cyclists more likely to die than me, then maybe my blog is not for you. These things are FUNDAMENTALLY DANGEROUS.
Not only do I see this every day, but I see them all displayed by ONE cyclist. (Well maybe not the headphones and speaker together, that would just be silly). Therefore if anybody is going to die on the roads today, the probability would indicate it’s not going to be me. Of course I could be unlucky, but I could also have a heart attack on my next marathon (I’m nearly 50 after all) or trip and fall off my balcony. Life is unpredictable.
Imagine a car driver in Singapore drove a car with flat tires, no brakes, no lights, only ever drove one handed, watched movies on their phone when driving and drove on the wrong side of the road. An accident waiting to happen? You betcha!
The authorities in Singapore take great care in educating people on riding bicycles on paths responsibly, but should the cyclists be on the paths? That’s for people to walk and run and read their phones whilst doing so (don’t start me on people staring at their phones.) Bikes are ideal for roads. They are fast and sleek and cool!
Now I could shout about the incredible bad behaviour of some car drivers towards bikes, but that’s not for today (maybe the next time a car driver tries to break my elbow with his mirror, I will be moved to write a piece on them.) Before we launch a tirade of abuse on car drivers, cyclists need to get their crap together and start acting responsibly. I grew up in England. At 4 years old I learned to ride a bike and at 11 years old I rode on the road. A cycling proficiency certificate was compulsory in our school at 9 years old. Where’s the compulsory training in Singapore?
Come on people, it’s really quite simple, BE SAFE. Wear helmets, use lights, sort your bike out keep your bike in good condition, ride like every car driver is a lunatic out to kill you and most importantly, position yourself on the road like you have a right to be there. Until they introduce a COE for cycles, we have every right to be there, we reduce congestion, help the environment, improve our health and have more fun! (And we are all really lovely people).
Only when, as a biking community, we can display common sense and good road craft, can we have the right to launch a scathing attack on idiot car drivers.
Don’t worry readers…. that blog’s coming.