"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."-- Benjamin Franklin.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Our Ref: LTA/CC/PCF/FB/F20.000.000/17017/VT

Our Ref: LTA/CC/PCF/FB/F20.000.000/17017/VT
Date   : 11-Mar-2010
Tel    : 63961519
Fax    :   63961192
Dear Sir/Madam
FEEDBACK NUMBER: 20100225-0556
We refer to your email of 25 February 2010.

Your email does highlight that achieving a perfect balance between competing modes of transport and satisfying the various groups of road users is a complex and difficult task.
Please note that Singapore is not a signatory to the 1968 Convention on Road Traffic whilst we do try our best to keep up with international standards as far as local conditions allow. Singapore 's land transport system has to be continually adapted to suit changing local conditions and even though some of the international standards seem logical, their wholesale application to local conditions would be impractical.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is looking at more environmentally friendly public transport options and it may eventually be possible to see hybrid or electric public buses plying the roads. These would certainly improve air quality at street level.
Singapore does have major challenges when it comes to land use planning and given the shortage of land, compromises amongst the various road user groups are inevitable. Rest assured that vehicles such as ambulances and fire engines do have priority on the roads in emergency situations. Road user behaviour is an ongoing concern for LTA and we would certainly like to hear more from you.
We would like to invite you for a discussion at LTA's Hampshire Road HQ office to better enable us to understand your views and concerns as a cyclist and road user. At the same time, we also like to invite you to visit our Land Transport Gallery which showcases the development of Singapore 's land transportation system throughout the years and highlights Singapore 's move toward achieving a dynamic and liveable city with an efficient people-centric land transport system. You may contact me at the above number on the arrangement for the meeting.
We thank you for writing in.
Yours sincerely
 Cindy Ong
 Project Communications & Feedback
*We invite you to share your views on land transport related issues with us at http://talk2lta.lta.gov.sg. Now, you can also send us your feedback via SMS at "77LTA" (77582).

Sender's Name : Cherry Cherry
Email Address : bic_cherry@yahoo.com.sg
Feedback Date : 25-Feb-2010
Received Date : 25-Feb-2010


From : Cherry Cherry
To : feedback@lta.gov.sg
Sent On : [02/25/2010 01:28:30 PM ZE8]
Body :
Dear Ms Ong
I thank you for your response 'LTA/CC/PCF/FB/F20.000.000/13623/VT' Please ignore my last mail dated 24Feb2010 as this one supercedes the last (updated for clarity/ grammar).

I've managed to find a copy of the said 'Convention on Road Traffic (CoRT1968), amendment 1*, (done at Vienna on 8th Nov 1968)', * incorporating the amendments of 3 September 1993 at http://www.unece.org/trans/conventn/crt1968e.pdf  , from which your description of article 17 subtly yet significantly differs. Excerpts as follow:

ARTICLE 15: Special regulations relating to regular public-transport service vehicles
It is recommended that domestic legislation should provide that in built-up areas, in order to facilitate the movement of regular public-transport service vehicles, the drivers of other vehicles shall, subject to the provisions of Article 17, paragraph 1, of this Convention, slow down and if necessary stop in order to allow the public-transport vehicles to perform the manoeuvre required for moving off from stops marked as such. The provisions thus laid down by Contracting Parties or subdivisions thereof shall in no way affect the duty incumbent on drivers of public-transport vehicles to take, after having given warning by means of their direction-indicators of their intention to move off, the precautions necessary to avoid any risk of accident.

ARTICLE 17: Slowing down
1. No driver of a vehicle shall brake abruptly unless it is necessary to do so for safety reasons.

As such, I have a few related queries/ observations.
1) There seem to be many bus stops without annexed yellow boxes. Given the established function and ease of policing of such, wouldn't the complete provision of such contribute further towards overall reduction of bus ride durations? Other possibly unexploited options include road widening, bus first green lights, pedestrian crossings that interrupt traffic flows and allow buses to exit bays, more cycle tracks etc.

2) Bus lanes, in addition to privileging bus flows, have an important secondary purpose- as a conduit for emergency vehicles. Their presence have many a time made the difference between life and death of those whose lives depended upon emergency vehicles taking to the bus lane. Bus lanes also appropriately operate only during peak hours, is it necessary that the GWTBS operates 24 hours? By LTA's own admission, the GWTBS remains far inferior to the existing Bus Lanes scheme http://www.onemotoring.com.sg/publish/onemotoring/en/on_the_roads/traffic_management/mandatory_give_way.html vs http://www.onemotoring.com.sg/publish/onemotoring/en/on_the_roads/traffic_management/full_day_bus_lanes.html : overall journey time improvements of (up to) 7% vs. 12% as I understand the case to be. Do plans to extend the bus lane scheme to improve bus flows rank high on the LTA's list of priorities?

3) My example of an ambulance/ even another bus meeting with an exiting bus leaves is another GWTBS ambiguity that remains yet unresolved. Your directives may need elaboration.

4) Is there a time line towards the creation of cycle tracks and would they further result in a greater built up areas, higher maintenance costs etc. The current 'park connector network' with their wide road girths have successfully married pedestrians and cyclists on the same path; are newer housing estates being planned with the popularity of cycling in mind?

5) What efforts have been made thus far to coordinate safe use of 'footpaths' by both pedestrians and cyclists? http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1024539/1/.html  : accesses the 13thDec09 CNA Tampines cycling report. The video has since been withdrawn but problem in the photo is same: there is no sense of left or right amongst pedestrians some pedestrians continue to hog the entire path resulting in cyclist weaving in and out between- tragedy awaiting. Many shopping centers programme their escalators with no sense of left or right, thus Singaporeans seem very confused if slower pedestrian traffic should keep left or right. In my opinion, it is this state of confusion aggravated by the over-commercialization of Singapore society that has resulted in all the friction between pedestrians and cyclist. Instead of just focusing upon training and penalization of errant cyclist, wardens should start with education of pedestrian traffic. Unless the 'main users' of the paths coordinate their act , wheeled 'visitors' would always remain a suspect and much unwelcome lot! Pedestrians need to be coordinated first (starting from primary 1).

6) Would it be valid for an 'offending' driver to appeal that according to CoRT1968 article 17, paragraph 1, re: to avoid braking abruptly; a driver who doesn't comply to the 'give way to bus scheme' (GWTBS)/ article 15, since article 15 is "subject to the provisions of Article 17, paragraph 1"- i.e. if the bus signal to exit had been given abruptly/ is not clearly seen? Given these legal contortions, would it be ill-anticipated that such ambiguities might potentially lead to greater conflict and wastage of court and administrative time in prosecution and reconciliation? Why is it that Singapore isn't on the UN list of countries signatory to the 'Convention on Road Traffic [ Vienna , 8 November 1968]':   http://www.unece.org/trans/conventn/legalinst_08_RTRSS_RT1968.html .

7) Lastly, I'd like to feedback that the current bus lanes scheme is by fortunate coincidence, a boon to cyclist as they allow cyclist an 'unobstructed' passage on busy roads. This remains so as by virtue of cyclist's 'slower' speeds, they are required to keep to the left-most lanes. Buses exiting bays also rightfully give way to them according to article 14 of CoRT1968: [General requirements governing manoeuvres]: Para1. 'Any driver wishing to perform a manoeuvre such as pulling out of or into a line of parked vehicles, moving over to the right or to the left on the carriageway, ..., shall first make sure that he can do so without risk of endangering other road-users traveling behind or ahead of him or about to pass him, having regard to their position, direction and speed.'

In short, with many other well established options applicable towards public transport efficiency remaining unexploited, the GWTBS should be the last on the list of LTA's options. Bus lanes remain a boon to both emergency vehicles as well as cyclists- whose mode of transportation remain a socially responsible, efficient and healthy choice; and rightly so as National Development Minister and MP for Tampines GRC, Mah Bow Tan, had admitted in announcing: [circa.Aug2008]"The Ministry of Transport has already indicated...(it is) interested to promote cycling as a mode of transport, instead of just as a form of leisure. & ...."Given the increasing concerns about global warming and rising energy costs, it would be wise for the LTA to not dwell too much on their perception that "bicycles are not an efficient mode of transportation for moving the masses".
Conceiving of cyclist having to directly inhale the bus fumes of exiting buses, the 'legitimate' result of their abidance to the GWTBS remains an unimaginable thought.

CoRT1968 Article15 'Special regulations relating to regular public-transport service vehicles', by nature of the term 'special' should remain an  exception rather then the norm, a last option only after ALL other established traffic control measures have been exhausted.

I despair with the thought of cycling becoming untenable and unhealthy activity due to LTA imposed obstacles and increased air pollution, the result of our 'money god' driven economy. Has the objective of remaining garden city been sidestepped?

I hope that that worry will never see the light of day.

I thank you for your prompt well informed responses thus far and eagerly look forward to your further categorical response of consideration and concern. Do have a nice day.

References (in order of appearance):
'Convention on Road Traffic (CoRT1968), amendment 1*, (done at Vienna on 8th Nov 1968)', : http://www.unece.org/trans/conventn/crt1968e.pdf * incorporating the amendments of 3 September 1993
13 December 2009: Cycling on footpaths will be allowed in Tampines next year: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1024539/1/.html
UN list of countries signatory to the 'Convention on Road Traffic [Vienna, 8 November 1968]': http://www.unece.org/trans/conventn/legalinst_08_RTRSS_RT1968.html
03 August 2008: Tampines Town Council starts building cycling tracks: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/364646/1/.html

Warmest regards and Best wishes,

"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of
the human race". ~ H. G. Wells, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._G._Wells

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