Friday, September 14, 2012

What is the Point?

I cannot agree more with letter writer, Mr Nick McHugh, when he asked if it was odd that the government's response to incidences of death by cycling in Singapore is to increase penalties on cyclists (Stiffer penalties for cyclists do not solve the problem). I for one agree with him that this makes no sense. I sometimes, no, often, wonder, if our highly paid civil servants and political appointees are worth the money the state (read "tax payers") pays them.

There appears to be have been an increase in cycling accidents on Singapore's roads. Motorists and cyclists have weighed in on the case, each blaming the other. I do not drive nor own a bicycle. But I seriously doubt if another increased fine solves any problem at all except enrich the government coffers.

Right now, the Transport Ministry appears to be doing all it can to relieve the strained capacity on our public transport systems and roads. S$1.1billion has been set aside for buying buses over the next 10 years. Taxpayers are footing the bill for new buses for a profit making public-listed company. Steve Jobs would have said, "Amazing". COE's are at historically sky high levels. And we are even building another expressway for motor vehicles that will cut through and remove parts of Bukit Brown and several houses along the way. Several buildings, including Chinatown's Pearl Centre will be demolished to make way for the building of yet another subway line - the Thomson line. All these cost lots and lots of money Yet when it comes to putting bicycle lanes on our roads, government officials appear to have dismissed it outright, saying that it is going to be very expensive to retrofit our roads with bicycle lanes. Well, obviously our government does not believe in cycling or cyclists. It does not believe in saving the environment and the planet. Cycling is not only clean (as in not polluting), it is a good form of exercise. If we become a cycling nation, we can probably reduce our Health budgets substantially in the long run. But no, motorists, including some well paid government officials who cannot do without their cars, want to keep cyclists off the roads. Not even that, throw the book at any cyclist who misbehave, it says. As far as they are concerned, cyclists belong in the public parks or the road connectors. Perhaps best if they keep their cycling to the gym. Don't be seen and don't be heard, they seem to be saying. The roads - well we paid thousands of dollars every year to use them, isn't where minions on bicycles belong. Talk of elitism. Some government officials betray their stripes when they speak.

What's that? A National Conversation? Who are you trying to kid? It is already dead on arrival. Like what some people are saying, its probably going to be one big fat but very expensive wayang. Somebody said that since this is a government initiative, a government that was voted in in the last general elections, we should logically participate in the whole thing. Well, I would agree if this is a bipartisan effort, a national effort. As it now stands, no political opposition figure is in the committee headed by Mr Heng Swee Keat. Lets not forget that the division of spoils in the last GE was 60% to the sitting (PAP) government, 40% anti-PAP. 4 in 10 did not not agree with the government. Go figure.


Anonymous said...

it is not hard to see the main reason the govt don't give damn to cyclist is that they don't encourage cycling as transport alternative as it don't generate profit. People can argue that cycling as hobby but not to work, but we are just kidding ourselves because many people cycle to work. Saying that people can bring bicycle to public transport is moot because how many bicycles can be brought to public transport ?

Remember all the major public transports are affiliated with govt, and profitable GLC. The govt just want people to use public transport more to generate profit.

Anonymous said...

Agree with above writer. Unlike other major Asian cities, our sidewalks & pavements are too narrow to accomodate the increased number of pedestrains and also fail to cater to cyclists. I feel that a dedicated bike lane is not feasible however a widen pavement is enough for a push for cycling to aleviate our transport inefficiences. Civil servants stick to the same formula and will not rob transport operators of their customers. They are the ones who should study how other cities instead of coming out with lame excuses. FYI, I cycle to work in about the same time as I take the train.

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