Open letter to Mr Lui Tuck yew (SG transport minister)

Dear Sir,

I read with great dismay your comments during the recent Budget Debate on road cycling, that “only a small group use it as their primary mode of transport” and “… it is a different thing altogether to get more cyclists using fast-flowing roads when other road users are not ready to give way”. Your comments clearly shows a lack of empathy for vulnerable road users, a deficit of compassion and a lack of visionary thinking.

Have you so quickly already forgotten the two innocent young lives taken by a cement mixer driver in Tampines early 2013? Then, the Parliament Secretary for Transport acknowledged that “One life lost is one too many”. Have we learnt nothing?

Whenever a life is taken, it is not just one life that is lost – an entire family suffers, and the suffering lasts a lifetime. Can you quantify such a loss? In Tampines, was it two or is it more? Can you empathize with such a loss?

Let us not forget the many who have been injured – we form part of the unpublished number. It is a lucky thing we did not make the death statistic, but the injuries suffered in various degrees of severity do place a burden on the family.

Cycling as a primary mode of transport is picking up new fans and growing in numbers, a trend I highlighted during the LTMP discussion in Oct 2012. Clearly the feedback has not been taken seriously. The rising vehicle population and the rising number of speeding offences* puts motorists and the growing population of road cyclists on a collision course, with tragic results waiting to happen.

With all due respect Sir, you do not wait for motorists to get “ready to give way”. Did the government wait for citizens to get ready to not throw killer litter? Did the government wait for motorists to get ready “to not speed”? Do you think it is prudent to wait for more cyclists to lose their lives before taking action? Fifty more? A hundred more?

No, a good government does not wait. A good government leads by taking action before things spiral out of control, before more lives are lost, before more families suffer a lifetime of tragic loss.

Global green cities are taking proactive measures to strongly discourage car usage AND encouraging green transport alternatives, cycling included. Here, we hear the PCN being preached as the holy grail to Singapore’s cycling woes, while continuing to pander to motorist whims.

The truth is, the PCN is a connected network of disjointed paths (even engineers who have worked on cycle path projects in Netherlands concluded so), and a rather terribly convoluted way of getting to work. The PCN is great for recreational users and good if one has all the time in the world to get to work.

Our roads are highly unsafe, and many cyclists ride on pavements where it is safer. But in the eyes of pedestrians and motorists alike, cyclists are nothing but cockroaches. All the cyclist angst captured on video (which you may have seen) are truly unnecessary, if only our laws and road infrastructure accord sufficient protection to road cyclists.

So dear Minister, where can we safely go?

Fix the compassion deficit. The cyclists of Singapore are real people with families, not just “a small group”. Cycling is the future of transport – the revolution has already begun all around the world in cities that proudly call themselves global cities, and the MOT/LTA have been caught snoozing. The cyclists of Singapore are firmly united in support of Ms Irene Ng – the time for visionary thinking and leadership is NOW.


Calvin Boo
Road Cycling Advocate

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