SINGAPORE — As part of efforts to promote a safety-first culture on the roads, the People’s Association (PA) yesterday launched a Cycle Safe Ambassador programme to spread the message of safe cycling round the neighbourhood and to members of the public.
The initiative, organised in partnership with the Singapore Cycling Federation, was kick-started by Sembawang’s grassroots organisations and the first batch of 16 ambassadors, at the constituency’s inaugural Safe Cycling Day.he islandwide programme will now be rolled out progressively at various group representation constituencies over the next six months. It aims to recruit 200 ambassadors, who will undergo a six-hour course on the basic etiquette of safe cycling.
This includes learning how to wear a helmet properly, the systematic way of checking a bicycle and how to safely do things such as push, carry and mount a bicycle, as well as braking techniques.
Cycling is becoming one of the fastest growing sports here, and Singapore is pushing for a car-lite society, noted Singapore Cycling Federation trainer Azhar Yusof, 44. And with more people on the road, “the safety aspect becomes even more important”.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had deaths ... so we’re trying to educate people on (these) safe cycling skills,” said Mr Yusof, who is also a National Institute of Education senior lecturer in physical education and sports science.
Last Friday, a 62-year-old man riding an electric bicycle was killed after an accident involving a tipper truck in the Central Business District.
Safe-cycling efforts would go a long way towards reducing such accidents, especially among those who are still unaware of safety habits or who prize convenience above safety, said Sembawang GRC Safe Cycling Day organising chairman Thangarajoo Ramesh, 43.
“(With more) people educated on safety rules, (I think) a good percentage will start following. It’s a group thing ... When a lot of people follow, (then others) will, too,” he said.
Cycle Safe Ambassador Julian Wong, 47, said he decided to take on the task of educating the public because he had seen cyclists doing “dangerous” things, such as riding abreast on an entire lane of the road.
Getting people to change their habits, however, would take time, he acknowledged.
“(You can explain), but it depends on how long they might stick to it ... They might (do it) for the first two weeks, but slowly, the old habits could come back,” said the information technology specialist and avid cyclist.
Swimming coach Quintus Ong, 50, who cycles weekly at Sembawang Park, said he had picked up some skills at yesterday’s event, such as indicating in advance that one is overtaking. It also got him interested in being an ambassador.
“A lot of people aren’t aware of what they should or shouldn’t do, so it would be good to find out,” he said.
He added that there could be more training for e-bike riders who speed and are often in motorists’ blind spots. However, others such as training manager Lien Boon Thiam, 40, felt that “tough measures” must also be taken.
He used to cycle three to four times a week but was deterred from doing so because it was not a “pleasant” experience jostling with inconsiderate cyclists and users of e-scooters on the road. He suggested using speed cameras and imposing stiff penalties on errant cyclists, on top of schools and companies organising programmes or briefings to inculcate safety messages, especially for work permit holders who cycle to work.
“That’s the way to get the message across,” he said. “I can tell you many times, but if you refuse to listen, there’s nothing much (we) can do.”
Yesterday’s event saw 150 cycling enthusiasts riding along a 15-kilometre route.
About 70 children aged between four and six also took part in a safe-cycling indoor circuit, guided by Singapore Cycling Federation trainers.