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Cyclists, bus drivers swop roles to learn about each other's road safety challenges

Steer clear of the blind spots of buses by not cycling alongside a bus.

This was one piece of advice given when 20 cyclists and bus drivers gathered on Saturday (April 30) in a session organised to promote mutual understanding among road users and drive road safety.

They learnt about good habits through scenario briefings and role-swopping to find out where dangers lurk and how to avoid them.

The session by bus operator Go-Ahead Singapore comes on the back of annual statistics which show that more people were killed or injured in road accidents last year, as more activities resumed amid the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

The Traffic Police said 107 people died on the roads last year compared with 83 in 2020.

Mr Daniel Corbin, operations director of Go-Ahead Singapore, said the session came about as there are more cyclists on the road since Covid-19 hit, sparking discussions about their safety.

Supported by the Land Transport Authority and Singapore Cycling Federation, the pilot session at Loyang Bus Depot went through scenarios such as cyclists not steering clear of the blind spots of buses, especially when the driver is negotiating a left bend at a slip road.

The driver's attention will be on the traffic on the major road and he may not spot the cyclist on the left side of the bus when he makes a turn.

Cyclists should also avoid positioning themselves at the left rear of a bus, and instead keep a distance of 1m behind the vehicle and stay in clear view of traffic.

At the two-and-a-half-hour session, role play allowed the participants to better understand the safety issues.

Cyclists sat in the bus driver's seat to find out what can and cannot be seen at the kerb side and directly in front of the bus, while bus drivers got to experience cycling on the road.

Mr Eugene Wang, vice-president for community and leisure at the Singapore Cycling Federation, said he learnt about the bus driver's blind spots.

"It was very new to me. I learnt that it's really important for us cyclists to be more aware of our surroundings on the road. Don't assume bus drivers can see you, or know what you are doing or thinking of."

He added: "We suggested adding more mirrors and sensors on the buses, but drivers would be overloaded. They already have to check so many things that I didn't think of before, they have to pay attention to the front, answer questions while driving, and they have to lean left and right to get a better view of the road, especially when the bus is packed and passengers are obstructing their view."

At the two-and-a-half-hour session, role play allowed the participants to better understand the safety issues. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Chief bus captain Md Ahzman Tumin said one issue is when cyclists on single lane roads do not cycle in a single file, but three abreast, and hog the road, making it difficult for drivers to maintain a 1.5m distance between the side of the bus and cyclist.

He added that this is a problem in areas with more cyclists and where there are road works.

He also said that some cyclists are not aware of the bus drivers' use of signal and hazard lights to inform other road users that they are turning or stopping.

But some bus drivers also do not signal when leaving the bus stop.

"It is important to communicate through signals and hand gestures, it's a two-way thing," he said.

"Everyone has to play a part to ensure road safety since we share the road."

Also present at Saturday's session was Mr Baey Yam Keng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and chairman of the Active Mobility Advisory Panel.

"This awareness initiative by Go-Ahead Singapore will be beneficial to both bus drivers and cyclists, as safety is a collective responsibility of all road users," he said.

"I urge everyone to continue playing his or her part by adhering to rules and guidelines, be gracious, and look out for one another on the roads."

CYCLING/BICYCLESBUSES