Open letter urges PM, Minister to improve road safety for cyclists

The death of a cyclist who was killed after a lorry hit him on Saturday has prompted calls for greater safety on roads. (AFP file photo)

An avid cyclist has written an impassioned open letter to Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, repeating a growing call for a 1.5-metre lane to be set aside for road cyclists.

“My friend is dead,” wrote Stephen Choy, referring to 48-year-old Freddy Khoo who was killed after a lorry hit him and two other cyclists at Loyang Avenue at about 6.50am on Saturday.

“If, only if, I had written this letter earlier, Freddy might still be able to cycle with me in the next Ironman race,” the member of cycling group Team Cychos said.

In a 10-paragraph open letter addressed to Minister Lui and which has also been emailed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Choy implored the authorities to take an “urgent re-look” into the issue of cycling safety with the increase in accidents involving cyclists in recent years.

Choy, who shared his letter on Facebook on Sunday afternoon, said he had “chanced upon the wreckage” on Saturday without knowing that the victim was his friend Khoo, whom he described as a “good, gentle man” and “a good husband and a doting father to his 5 year old son”.

In his letter, which has been shared over 1,600 times to date, Choy repeatedly called for the setting up of a 1.5m bicycle lane on the roads for cyclists to ride safely in.

“Dear Minister Lui, I am appealing to you as many before me did... From 2008 to 2011, there were a total of 70 cyclists killed. That is a horrifying average of 1.46 cyclists killed a month. Sadly, that is not enough to spur your ministry into action to make the roads safer for cyclists,” he wrote.

Referring to a recent article, the letter also dismissed recent claims by the Land Transport Authority that demarcating road cycling lanes might give both cyclists and motorists a “false sense of security” which can lead to an increase in accidents involving cyclists.

Choy, who said he “was flabbergasted by this flippant and dismissive response”, wrote, “Shame on you. Shame on you for taking the easy way out. If NParks is able to build 300km of park connectors (by 2015), surely the LTA is capable of painting a 1.5m lane on our roads. This is merely the width of 2 carton boxes. Are cyclists not worth that?”

He added, “Isn’t that the purpose of a cycling lane? To remind cyclists to stay within the allotted 1.5m and for motorists to be aware of cyclists within this lane so that we all can be safe.”

He suggested that “if having cycling lanes islandwide proves too daunting a task”, then a pilot project to paint only the more popular cycling routes could be carried out, before singling out roads such Neo Tew Avenue, Mandai Road, Upper Thomson Road and West Coast Highway.

A second letter to PM Lee on Sunday evening, penned by cycling group LoveCycling Sg, echoed Choy’s thoughts and asked that cyclists be allowed to “coexist in peace as road users”.

Recognising that “both cyclists and motorists have a part to play in making our roads safer for all”, both letters suggested that motorists be educated that cyclists, like pedestrians, have a right to use the roads. 

This is not the first time cyclists in Singapore have penned letters to the authorities calling for greater road safety.

Earlier in May, LoveCycling SG had also written to Lui in hopes of getting the Ministry of Transport to initiate a “serious investigation… to improve road and junction design in favour of human life over slight speed gain of car movement”.