Our Ref: LTA/CC/PCF/FB/F20.000.000/13623/VT
Date : 29 January 2010
Tel : 63961519
Fax : 63961192
Dear Sir/ Madam
GIVE WAY TO BUSES SCHEME IS DANGEROUS AND DISINGENUOUS
FEEDBACK NUMBER: 20100102-0076
We refer to your email of 1 January 2010.
Please allow us to explain that there is no legal contradiction or contravention of the Geneva Road Traffic Convention in our give way to bus scheme, as the "give way box" already modifies the road priority.
Many international traffic convention and practices come from the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. Article 15 of the Convention recommends "Give-Way to Buses" as follows: Article 15: Special regulations relating to regular public transport service vehicles Domestic legislation must provide that in built-up areas, in order to facilitate the movement of regular public transport service vehicles, the drivers of other vehicles shall, subject to the provisions of Article 17, paragraph 1, of this Convention, slow down and if necessary stop in order to allow public transport service vehicles to perform the manoeuvre required for moving off from stops marked as such.
The provisions thus laid down by Contracting Parties or subdivisions thereof shall in no way affect the duty incumbent on drivers of public service vehicles to take, after having given warning by means of their direction indicators of their intention to move off, the precautions necessary to avoid any risk of accident. European countries, such as Germany and France , are amongst the first to implement regulations to require motorists to give way to buses. Nowadays, most member states in the European Union (with the notable exception of Greece and Italy ) now accord buses and trams the right of way when leaving bus or tram stops. The practice has since spread to Australia , Japan , and certain parts of Canada and USA . In Northern America , the rule is more commonly known as the "Yield to Bus" rule. So far, literature review and traffic studies do not indicate that the operation of the scheme in these countries increase the risks of accidents.
In a land scarce Singapore , it is essential to optimise the use of our limited road space to move people and goods efficiently. Compared to the public transport, bicycles are not an efficient mode of transportation for moving the masses. Therefore, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) does not provide bicycle lanes within road reserves.
However, some new initiatives were announced recently to make cycling more convenient, such as more cycling tracks will be built next to existing footpaths linking to residential areas.
The Tripartite Committee of LTA, Traffic Police (TP) and Tampines GROs, in consultation and discussion with the cycling community and other agencies, will continuously look into ways to improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. These include educational efforts on the observance of traffic rules. We also understand that the TP carries out regular talks and exhibitions on safe cycling habits as part of their public education efforts on road safety.
We thank you for writing in.
(SIGNED IN LOTUS NOTES)
Cindy Ong (Ms)
Project Communications & Feedback
Dear Ms Ong
I thank you for your well informed response 'LTA/CC/PCF/FB/F20.000.000/13623/VT'
I've found a copy of the 'Convention on Road Traffic (CoRT1968), amendment 1*, (done at Vienna on 8th Nov 1968)', * incorporating the amendments of 3 September 1993 at http://www.unece.org/trans/conventn/crt1968e.pdf , from which your description of article 17 subtly yet significantly differs. Excerpts as follows:
Chapter II: RULES OF THE ROAD:
ARTICLE 15: Special regulations relating to regular public-transport service vehicles
It is recommended that domestic legislation should provide that in built-up areas, in order to facilitate the movement of regular public-transport service vehicles, the drivers of other vehicles shall, subject to the provisions of Article 17, paragraph 1, of this Convention, slow down and if necessary stop in order to allow the public-transport vehicles to perform the manoeuvre required for moving off from stops marked as such. The provisions thus laid down by Contracting Parties or subdivisions thereof shall in no way affect the duty incumbent on drivers of public-transport vehicles to take, after having given warning by means of their direction-indicators of their intention to move off, the precautions necessary to avoid any risk of accident.
ARTICLE 17: Slowing down
1. No driver of a vehicle shall brake abruptly unless it is necessary to do so for safety reasons.
As such, I have a few related queries/ observations.
1) There seem to be many bus stops without annexed yellow boxes. Given to the established function and ease of policing of such, wouldn't the provision of such contribute further to the smooth flow of buses?
2) Bus lanes, in addition to prioritizing bus flows, have proven an invaluable conduit for emergency vehicles. Their presence have many a time made the difference between life and death of those whose lives depended upon emergency vehicles taking to the bus lane. Bus lanes also appropriately operate during peak hours, is it necessary that the GWTBS operates 24 hours? Do plans to extend the bus lane scheme to improve bus flows rank high on the LTA's list of priorities?
3) My example of an ambulance/ even another bus meeting with an exiting bus leaves room for conflict/ confusion.
4) Is there a time line towards the creation of cycle tracks and would they further result in a greater built up areas, higher maintenance costs etc. The current 'park connector network' marries pedestrians and cyclists on the same path; are newer housing estates being planned with the popularity of cycling in mind?
5) What efforts have been made thus far to coordinate safe use of 'footpaths' by both pedestrians and cyclists? http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1024539/1/.html : accesses the 13thDec09 CNA Tampines cycling report. The video has since been withdrawn but problem in the photo is same: there is no sense of left or right between pedestrians/ cyclist and pedestrians continue to hog the entire path. Many shopping centers programme their escalators with no sense of left or right, thus Singaporeans seem very confused if slower pedestrian traffic should keep left or right. In my opinion, it is this state of confusion aggravated by the over-commercialization of Singapore society that has resulted in all the friction between pedestrians and cyclist. Instead of just focusing upon training and penalization of errant cyclist, wardens should also coordinate pedestrian traffic.
Unless the 'main users' of the paths coordinate their act , wheeled 'visitors' would always remain an unwelcome and much feared lot! Pedestrians need to be coordinated first (starting from primary 1).
6) Would it be valid for an 'offending' driver to claim that according to CoRT1968 article 17, paragraph 1, that to avoid braking abruptly (from 50kmh), a driver who doesn't comply to the 'give way to bus scheme' (GWTBS)/ article 15, he might appeal to be acquitted, since article 15 is "subject to the provisions of Article 17, paragraph 1"- if the bus signal to exit had been given abruptly/ is not clearly seen? Are these legal contradictions and peculiarities anticipated to cause legal contortions that might bog down an already over-stressed judiciary?
Why is it that Singapore isn't on the UN list of countries signatory to the 'Convention on Road Traffic [Vienna, 8 November 1968]': http://www.unece.org/trans/conventn/legalinst_08_RTRSS_RT1968.html
7) Lastly, I'd like to comment that bus lanes are an incidental '(legislated)' boon to cyclist as they allow cyclist a default, 'unobstructed' passage on busy roads. Buses exiting bays also rightfully give way to them according to article 14 of CoRT1968: [General requirements governing manoeuvres]: '1. Any driver wishing to perform a manoeuvre such as pulling out of or into a line of parked vehicles, moving over to the right or to the left on the carriageway, or turning left or right into another road or into a property bordering on the road, shall first make sure that he can do so without risk of endangering other road-users traveling behind or ahead of him or about to pass him, having regard to their position, direction and speed.'
In short, there remain many other existing and well established options applicable towards facilitating public transportation, the GWTBS should be the last of them. Bus lanes have incidentally been a boon to many cyclists, whose mode of transportation National Development Minister and MP for Tampines GRC, Mah Bow Tan, acknowledged in saying: "The Ministry of Transport has already indicated...(it is) interested to promote cycling as a mode of transport, instead of just as a form of leisure. So as a mode of transport for travel within the town, I think Tampines is probably the first one that has gone in such big way in promoting this." (Aug2008).
Given the competing concerns about global warming and energy costs, it would be wise for the LTA to not dwell too much on their idea that “bicycles are not an efficient mode of transportation for moving the masses”.
I thank you for your well informed response and look forward to your further kind, patient and categorical response to my current queries.
References (in order of reference):
'Convention on Road Traffic (CoRT1968), amendment 1*, (done at Vienna on 8th Nov 1968)', : http://www.unece.org/trans/conventn/crt1968e.pdf * incorporating the amendments of 3 September 1993
13 December 2009: Cycling on footpaths will be allowed in Tampines next year: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1024539/1/.html
UN list of countries signatory to the 'Convention on Road Traffic [Vienna, 8 November 1968]': http://www.unece.org/trans/conventn/legalinst_08_RTRSS_RT1968.html
03 August 2008: Tampines Town Council starts building cycling tracks: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/364646/1/.html
Regards and Best wishes,
"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race". ~ H. G. Wells, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._G._Wells