Roadies should be stay-at-homeies, says doc

Some drivers think cyclists should not be allowed on roads, roads which they mistakenly believe were designed and built for cars. Some drivers have a ‘Get orff moy laaaaand’ mentality because they feel they’ve paid for use of the roads through ‘road tax’ (they should apply for a rebate, backdated to 1937).

This feeling of ‘ownership’ is a global phenomenon. Many motorists believe only motorised vehicles should be on roads. In the US recently, this woman driving her kids to school ran over four school-children because they were walking on the street (a street with no sidewalks) and wouldn’t get out of her way. Infamously, Ricardo Neis, the 47 year-old driver of VW Golf that drove through a group of cyclists on a Critical Mass ride in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre last week, clearly felt his rights as a motorist trumped the rights of cyclists when on public roads.

In Singapore, where driving is massively expensive and hence the feeling of ‘road ownership’ is also sky-high, a doctor has caused a huge fuss by demanding, in a letter to the Straits Times, that cyclists should be shunted off public roads. Dr Terence Teoh doesn’t mind the odd “poor blue-collar worker cycling to work” but objects to “well-educated recreational cyclists.”

Lycra-clad cyclists should stay clear of public roads: “To those who still insist on cycling, kindly use your stationary bike in your home or gym.”

Dr Teoh’s ire seems to be aimed at packs of roadies who take to the streets in the early mornings to escape heat and humidity, and unfriendly motorists. Organised chain-gangs – such as the ‘JoyRiders’ – go out at 6.40am and, in Dr Teoh’s words “occupy a full lane along Upper Thomson Road and other roads.”

This is a multi-lane highway. According to Singapore highway law (the pic above was taken from a Singapore Land Authority poster), cyclists shouldn’t ride more than two abreast, but they clearly do so when riding in the road gangs, partly as a safety measure.

Dr Teoh said: “It takes only a single cyclist with his ‘reasonable’ appeal for a 1.5m safe distance from a motorist to disrupt optimum usage of a public stretch for other users.”

For other users read cars.

“It does not make sense to encourage recreational cycling on public roads,” said Dr Teoh. “It is safer and in the best interest of the public.”

In a follow up article, the Straits Times had a poll based on suggestions left by readers. Cyclists banded together to vote for the most cycle-friendly suggestion but the other ideas are chilling and also received lots of votes.

The ideas included:

“Cyclists should be allowed on the road at stipulated times – from 1.30pm to 3pm and from 9pm to 5am.”

“Ban cycling in large groups of more than 3 cyclists as such groups hog road lanes and make it difficult for other road users. Permits should be made mandatory for group cycling.”

“A direct ban of bicycles on roads meant for motorised vehicles will solve all problems and safety issues.”

“Have a system of signal lights to tell all road users when cycling is not allowed, eg. during restricted hours, heavy congestion, etc.”

Receiving most votes – phew! – was this one:

“Promote bike commuting. It is green, reduces car population and usually involves lone cyclists travelling at a slow safe speed.”

On a Singapore-based Yahoo forum, ‘MLNW Murli’ said: “The bicycle was invented before the motorcar and cyclists were on the roads before drivers…[but] the roads are public property and no one person has any larger claim on them than any other.”

This is true for Singapore, and true for the UK, too.

Motorists – the Johnny-come-latelies of public highway users – do not have more rights than other road users, except on motorways. Nor are motorists traffic. According to the Highways Act 1980, traffic also includes pedestrians and animals…and cyclists.

++++++++++ is an ironically-named campaign supporting the road rights of cyclists. The message that cyclists have equal rights on the roads is carried on iPayRoadTax t-shirts and jerseys.

  • murli

    thanks for the mention! i wrote a bit more here in case you’re interested:

  • Jetlag

    Last week, a stuck up cow in a Volvo in Weybridge blew her horn at me….nnn for crossing the road. nnnYes, rather than cycle all the way round a deadly roundabout, (Queen’s Road/Seven Hills Road, Weybridge) I got off my bike to push it across the road the short way. This is the ONLY place to cross Seven Hills Road in that area, because it’s the only place with a pavement on both sides.nnI got stuck in the middle of the road because traffic came thundering off the roundabout and no one would stop (or even slow down). This woman, who was speeding, beared down on me and blew her horn. nnI wonder if she would have done the same if I were pushing a push chair?

  • carltonreid

    Road conflicts are often painted as bike v car but, in reality, it’s dog eat dog. And the smaller, weaker ‘dogs’ often lose out, whether they are pedestrians, cyclists, or pushchair pushers.rnrnMight is seen as right.

  • Annoyed

    I live along Upper Thomson Road and there is always ntraffic jam during morning and evening peak hours. The horde of recreational ncyclists in the fully-geared-fancy attires competing with road space with cars nat these times make it worse. I think cycling events should not be organised during peak hoursn nnMy husband once drove along an uphill, very narrow nand winding road in the Pasir Panjang area at about 9.00am. The bus infront of nour car was crawling at snail space because there is a recreational cyclist ninfront. The road is too narrow for both bus and car to overtake unless one cuts ninto the opposite lane facing opposing traffic. After both the car and bus ncrawled for about 5 minutes, my husband decided to honk. The cyclist stopped at nthe side of the road to allow the bus to move ahead and hence our car can move nfaster. But the cyclist was angry with my husband for honking and managed to ncatch up with our car at the next traffic junction and reprimanded my husband. nThe point he made was it was wrong, rude and inconsiderate for my husband to nhonk as he has the right of way as any car driver and my husband should learn to nwait and drive behind him the whole length of the road.n nnCycling on the road to and from work during peak hours is still acceptable but I think cyclists are very inconsiderate to use busy and narrow roads for recreational purpose during peak hours.n

  • carltonreid

    OK. Let’s ban use of roads for recreation, and make it a rule that only people going to and from work can use roads.nnAh, but for all road users, not just cyclists. So, no more driving to shops or to the gym or to see friends. Roads are too important for that. Only those getting to and from work, remember.nnNow, how reasonable does your idea sound now?

  • Bristol Traffic

    You’ve just admitted that the bicycle is as fast at the car, or the cyclist wouldn’t have caught up with you. Whatever is holding you up, it’s not him.nnAlso, what’s with the clothing. Do you think the police should inspect the clothes people are driving in and ban those wearing yellow?

  • Nod

    So the idea that in such a situation then all buses, trucks and cars were expected to trail slowly behind the cyclist causing a jam is a fantastic idea. So schools and bosses were expected to be reasonably sympathetic to the pupils and employees who were late for schools and work because these drivers are considerate enough to tail behind the cyclist.