Trail and error

Trail and error
Mountain bike enthusiast Lee Tze Boon demonstrates a downhill ride at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
PHOTO: ST

A mountain biker riding downhill slammed into a hiker on Sunday morning. It was one of two incidents along the Bukit Timah Mountain Biking Trail that day.

Both the rider and hiker suffered minor injuries.

In the second accident, another rider crashed into nearby bushes after trying to avoid an elderly woman walking up the section.

The incidents were first reported on the Mountain Bike Kakis Facebook Page on Sunday, sparking outrage among some mountain bikers.

Following the accidents, National Parks Board (NParks) director of conservation, Mr Wong Tuan Wah, told The New Paper that his agency is looking into "providing an adjacent parallel hiking trail" to separate hikers and bikers.

He also urged hikers to avoid using the Mountain Biking Trail.

An eyewitness, known only as Mr Lars, alerted the Facebook group Mountain Bike Kakis to the incidents on Sunday.

Describing the first incident, he told The New Paper: "The rider flew from the bike into the bushes while the hiker tumbled down the hill."

His post garnered 310 likes and 524 shares by yesterday evening, with enraged bikers sharing the post on NParks' Facebook page.

Most commentators were frustrated by the lack of awareness among hikers, recounting other near misses.

The Bukit Timah Mountain Bike Trail is the oldest and largest of five biking trails in Singapore.

Situated deep within the dense forest, the narrow, undulating route is popular with mountain biking enthusiasts who go there on weekends in groups of five to 10.

Bikers say such accidents have been occurring since the closure of several hiking trails in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve last September.

DANGEROUS

Seasoned mountain biker Fadzil Hamzah said the situation can be extremely dangerous.

Mountain bikers ride at high speeds and could risk death if they are thrown head-first into the rocky terrain of the Bukit Timah Mountain Biking Trail, he noted.

In one popular comment on Facebook, netizen Lewisz Riebuz suggested NParks impose a $500 fine on hikers who insist on using bike trails.

Hiker Timothy Soh put the problem down to the lack of clear signs.

He wrote on Facebook: "There are no clear signs demarcating the bike trails. Old walking trails will often intersect the bike trails."

When The New Paper checked the trail yesterday, only one sign was found warning hikers not to enter.

Mr Wong said NParks will be adding signs along the trail and positioning staff at the entrances to better advise hikers.

"We will increase the frequency of these educational outreach efforts in the next few weeks," he said.


This article was first published on July 15, 2015.
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