Ex-national cyclist hurt in encounter with prime mover
Wed, Feb 10, 2010
The New Paper

By Shree Ann Mathavan

THINGS turned ugly when a former national cyclist and a prime mover driver clashed over an accident.

Police reports were made with both sides claiming that they are innocent. Mr Vincent Ang's claim? That some drivers - like this one - bully cyclists.

Mr Ang, 33, was a national cyclist for six years from when he turned 15. He claimed he and 15 other cyclists narrowly escaped death while riding last Tuesday.

The cyclists claimed a prime mover driver swerved in and out of a three-lane road along Jalan Boon Lay at around 6am. The group was headed towards Tuas. Twice the truck came close and on the second brush, Mr Ang fell off his bicycle.

He sustained minor injuries - including a swollen right palm, heel pain and a bleeding fingernail.

He said: "This is the first time that I felt my life was in danger while riding. I really thought I would have gone under the vehicle. He could have killed anyone of us."

The driver has told the police and the company he works for a different story.

The driver said he sounded his horn to alert the cyclists to his presence, but claimed Mr Ang responded by showing him the middle finger. Then the cyclist threw a water bottle at the truck.

That was when he stopped his truck and the group got into a heated exchange.

The group had set out on its usual two-hour trail which starts off from Upper Thompson and ends on Amoy Street.

Mr Ang, who's self-employed, was leading the pack when the prime mover came up from behind, on the same road and honked at them.

RE-ENACTMENT: Mr Vincent Ang demonstrating how he fell off his bike.

Rude gesture?

Mr Ang, denied showing a rude gesture. Instead he said he signalled to the driver with his second and third finger to move out into the second lane.

He claimed the truck moved into the second lane but swerved back into the left lane at a 45-degree angle, abruptly cutting off the cyclists.

But when Mr Ang caught up with him, he alleged that the truck came close to him again.

Another cyclist in the group, Mr Michael Cheong, 49, company director of Tectron Developments, claimed the driver was intent on getting Mr Ang off the road.

Left with no choice, Mr Ang rode up the kerb but in the process fell and broke his fall with his right palm. About half of the cyclists then chased the prime mover, while the rest stayed on to help Mr Ang.

Mr Ang wasn't done. He jumped on his bicycle and went after the truck.

In a bid to get the vehicle to stop, Mr Ang hurled his water bottle at the vehicle but missed. It was only then that the vehicle stopped.

The driver alighted and the group started arguing.

One of the cyclists made a call to the police, and they arrived at the scene shortly after.

Both Mr Ang and the driver lodged police reports this week. They showed copies of their police reports to The New Paper which were both made at a neighbourhood police post in Jurong West.

Mr Ang went to Changi General Hospital that same day to check on his injuries.

A police spokesman confirmed the incident.

They are looking into the matter.

Mr Ang said he will likely have to write off his $8,000 bike as it was badly damaged.

To the naked eye, the damage may look superficial but Mr Ang said: "Once the bike's frame is cracked, the integrity of the bike is gone, it will break and collapse eventually."

Another fellow cyclist who was present said cyclists are often bullied on the roads.

Mr Eugene Cheong, 51, the regional executive creative director of Ogilvy and Mather Asia Pacific, said: "There seems to be some sort of prejudice among some motorists that bicycles don't belong on the road."

While Mr Cheong has only been riding on the roads for about five months, he has already had three close encounters with vehicles. But he added cyclists also have to be responsible on the road. Mr Ang, who stopped cycling for 12 years, picked it up again just two months ago.

He's observed a less tolerant attitude from drivers now compared to previously. He sighed: "People didn't use to honk at you all the time."

The group claimed this is not their first brush with the same prime mover, a claim the company refutes.

Cyclists in the group claimed a similar incident happened on 26 Jan, along the same stretch of road. But then,no police report was made.

- Additional reporting by Danson Cheong, newsroom intern

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