SINGAPORE - As Singapore gets on track to becoming a cycling nation, the young ones will be picking up skills on how to ride safely, under a new programme that will be rolled out in 100 secondary schools.
Launched yesterday, the move, dubbed Safe Cycling Programme for Youth, is aimed at making safety a habit of mind among youth, as more people take to wheels, creating more cycling towns islandwide.
Last year, 15 cyclists and pillion riders died in accidents. It was 16 in 2012 and 15 in 2011. Of the victims last year, two were aged 10 and 14.
Explaining the need to instil responsible cycling among the youth, Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said: "Safe cycling is a life skill we want to teach people as early as possible in their lives."
The schools will be given materials, including videos and posters with tips such as a safety checklist on the condition of the bicycle and how to ride in a straight line. Trainers from the Safe Cycling Task Force, which is behind the programme, may conduct clinics for schools.
It is also working with the Ministry of Education to reach out to more schools.
Steven Lim, 47, president of the Safe Cycling Task Force, said: "A lot of education has to be started when young, so they don't cultivate a bad habit that they bring into adulthood."
Deputy Superintendent of Police Soh Wan Khuan, the commanding officer for the road safety branch of the Traffic Police, noted: "Eventually, these kids are going to be motorists, motorcyclists...We want to inculcate good road behaviour (in them) because, on the road, it's a shared responsibility."
This scheme is part of ongoing efforts to enhance safety among cyclists - the Singapore Road Safety Council is also leading an initiative to implement a national voluntary cyclist-education programme, which will be rolled out by the second half of next year.
While details are not ready yet, the programme - which will have input from cycling enthusiasts and road-safety experts, among others - will have customised "modules" for different groups of cyclists, from students to commuting cyclists or those who are beginners and those who are more experienced, said Associate Professor Faishal.
He said: "At the end of the day, the trend is that more and more people are cycling, and that's a good form of transport and it's good for health. But we want to make sure they are trained and know about cycling so that they can cycle safely and also have regard to other road users."
Singapore Road Safety Council chairman Bernard Tay said: "Cyclists are a group of vulnerable road users and they are likely to suffer from serious injuries or risk their lives as compared to other motorists in the event of an accident."
Yesterday, 153 motorists were commended by the Traffic Police for good road habits, such as signalling early to change lanes or giving way to other vehicles.
This is the first time motorists were rewarded for "exemplary road-use behaviour" since the initiative was announced last May. Besides a certificate, they were given petrol and insurance vouchers.
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