Saturday, July 24, 2010

Impreza ploughs into 18 cyclists - or, why should you stick a christmas tree in the middle of a highway?

Early this morning a Subaru Impreza ploughed into a swarm of cyclists on the West Coast Highway, injuring 5 of them, but thankfully no fatal injuries. Even without further investigations, I would be pretty confident to say the driver was at fault. There is really no reason for a car to tear into bunch of 18 cyclists. One of the cyclists pointed out that there was no way the driver couldn't have seen them as there so many of them and they would have been lit up like a 'Christmas tree'. Was the driver drunk? Don't know, but we'll find out soon enough.

Though my sympathies are with the cyclists, there are a number of things I am not comfortable with. Firstly, should this swarm of peloton cyclists be on the West Coast Highway in the first place? The law on this is somewhat grey. It is clear that the law forbids cycling on expressways, but it is a bit unclear if this applies to the WCH. Cycling fora argue that a highway is not an expressway, so cycling is not forbidden on the WCH. But on the other hand, the LTA lists the WCH as a semi-expressway, implying that the law would likely look at the WCH as an expressway, thus cycling on the WCH is not allowed...which makes sense because it is actually a very fast and busy highway.

Secondly, is a swarm of cyclists legal? We see this more and more often. Just this morning, after my mandatory pilgrimage to the fast disappearing wet-market, I encountered a similar swarm of Sunday cyclists riding 3 and 4 abreast.... I wasn't too pleased but because the road was quite empty at that time of day, I was quite content not to let them spoil my day. But the law actually is quite explicit about this issue. I quote from Chapter 276, Section 140 of the Road Traffic (Bicycles) Rules: (1)No bicycle shall be ridden on the right of another vehicle proceeding in the same direction except when overtaking such other vehicle. (2) No bicycle shall be ridden on the right of any two other bicycles proceeding abreast in the same direction except when overtaking such other bicycles or on parts of roads or paths set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

So the cyclists were actually breaking the law.

So yes, the driver was at fault for running into these cyclists, but the cyclists should 'fess up to being somewhat reckless, irresponsible, and somewhat lacking in common sense. The traffic police has I believe been a bit too soft on cyclists who are clearly breaking the law, especially with respect to the above two points.

And my appeal to cyclists is this....please show some common sense.... it is fine to claim you are as lit up as a Christmas tree, but really, does it make any sense to stick the Christmas tree in the middle of a highway?


auntielucia said...

Frankly I don't know why garmen continues to give modern day cyclists so much face.

I used to take weekly evening strolls at EC Park but have stopped for a few years alredi becos one of my companions was bumped off the walking path into the grass beyond, collapsing like a ton of bricks.

U think the young cyclist stopped?

Instead, a follow-up cyclist (the culprit's dad) who saw what happened, stopped, apoligised for his son and asked whether victim was Ok (by which time we had all helped her up, our walk ruined and our routine forever short circuited)

gigamole said...

Yup, I have been similarly assaulted at the ECP on several occasions too..... but this I really don't mind. They are afterall just kids at play. And I have learned to watchout for these killer kids. What bothers me more, is as you have indirectly pointed out.... the parents don't seem to think it important to instruct the children, neither in the skills of safe and considerate cycling, nor the need to apologize.