Panel to study licensing, mandatory theory tests for road cyclists as part of review: Chee Hong Tat

SINGAPORE – An expert panel will review existing regulations governing road cyclists, and study whether this group of cyclists should be licensed and take theory tests.

Announcing this on Monday (April 12), Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat said the Active Mobility Advisory Panel will take several months to conduct this review, and seek feedback from the public.

The review comes on the back of a recent spate of complaints about errant road cyclists, which prompted calls from some quarters to register two-wheelers.

Mr Chee said the Government is aware of concerns from both motorists and cyclists about cycling on the roads, hence the review.

The panel will look into the pros and cons of licensing cyclists, he said, and study the experiences of other countries.

He noted that countries which have many cyclists – like the Netherlands – do not require bicycles to be registered or cyclists to be licensed.

“But it is a proposal that the panel can look at… while we do (the review), it’s important that we do so in a balanced and fair manner, because we don’t want to inadvertently end up discouraging cycling,” he told reporters after meeting with some members of the panel.

Mr Chee emphasised that cycling remains an important part of Singapore’s overall green plan for green transportation.

While it is a good thing that more people are taking up cycling, this should be done in a safe manner, he noted.

Asked about Singapore’s strategy for reducing accidents involving cyclists on the roads, Mr Chee said expanding the cycling path network is a key measure.

Public education and promoting road etiquette are also crucial, he added.

“We will have to step up enforcement to take action against the small number of egregious cyclists and motorists who don’t comply with rules,” he said.

The review, he said, is “really to take a look at the rules and to also prepare ourselves for the way forward, because it is not only try to deal with the situation and the current concerns, it is also to prepare ourselves for the scenario where if more people take up cycling… how do you ensure safety for all users.”

The expert panel, which comprises representatives from relevant groups such as seniors, youths, cyclists and motorists, was set up in 2015 to study and discuss regulations in Singapore relating to walking, cycling, and the use of active mobility devices.

It had previously recommended legalising cycling on footpaths, and registering electric bicycles and personal mobility devices, among other proposals.

The perennial conflict between road cyclists and motorists recently came to the fore again on April 1 when actor Tay Ping Hui shared a video of a group of road cyclists disregarding traffic rules. He said then that it was an issue he had experienced for the “umpteenth time”, and suggested that all bicycles could be registered.

Temasek Holdings chief executive Ho Ching, referencing Mr Tay’s Facebook post, then called for all bicycles and personal mobility devices to be registered a day later, and be required to have third-party insurance.

The Land Transport Authority has previously studied bicycle licensing, and said it would not be practical to implement it.

In a letter to The Straits Times Forum page in 2016, the authority said it be resource-intensive to implement and police a system to license bicycles or cyclists that is up to date.

More importantly, a licensing system would make owning and using a bicycle too onerous, and would discourage people from cycling, it noted then, highlighting the need to strengthen public education instead.

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