The recent tragic death of a cyclist had been anticipated by the frequent accidents suffered by cyclists on our roads. The need for safety, particularly for cyclists, has not been given the importance it deserves. Indeed, in the prevailing scenario we must appeal to the Transport Authority to bring about a shift in the attitude of our law-enforcers and the courts to give more protection to cyclists by adding the appropriate laws and regulations. The proposals outlined below would make our roads safer for cyclists. They can be implemented immediately, and at little cost:
1) Appoint an experienced or specially trained policy officer in ADT. This officer would be responsible for bringing about a change in attitude towards the safety of cyclists through the coordination of educational activities, measures to ensure that the cyclist is protected by the law (and ensuring that the cyclist feels protected by the law), overseeing road design with a view, where possible or appropriate, to making roads more pedestrian and cyclist- friendly and, most important of all, introducing changes in the traffic code, regulations and laws.
2) Introduce an obligatory minimum distance of one metre that vehicles must observe when overtaking cyclists and strictly enforce this rule, which already exists in other EU countries. Require vehicle drivers to treat cyclists as legitimate users of the roads and to pro-actively anticipate potentially dangerous situations to avoid endangering cyclists.
3) Make motorists generally legally responsible for collisions with cyclists, unless it can be proved that the cyclist deliberately caused the crash.
4) Take a tough stance against motorists who endanger cyclists. Introduce a policy of harsh penalties for motorists who disregard the newly-introduced rules and endanger or injure cyclists (as is the practice in EU countries, where cycling is encouraged) and make this clear to all vehicle drivers.
5) Place particular emphasis on buses, heavy goods vehicles and taxis that pose a significant threat to the safety of cyclists on main roads.
6) Condition police and traffic wardens to be strict with motorists who are seen to be endangering cyclists.
7) Publicise the newly-introduced rules with an advance warning that motorists who endanger a cyclist will be harshly punished. Motorists can be notified by enclosing leaflets (with a clear explanatory diagram where necessary) with motor vehicle licence renewal documents and by posters in government buildings and waiting rooms. This will help reassure novice cyclists.
8) Increase police presence on our roads to enforce traffic regulations and make our roads safer for all. The current emphasis of preying on “soft targets” such as those who accidentally park incorrectly or are caught in speed traps, has allowed the proliferation of reckless and careless drivers who pose a danger to all.
These changes should be followed in the medium and long-term with the creation of correctly designed amenities on our roads, where necessary, to make cycling safer and further encourage this healthy and environment-friendly method of transport.
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