Cyclist’s death casts spotlight on road safety awareness

Coroner highlights need for road users to note features of other vehicles after e-bike rider died in crash with lorry.

Even as power-aided bicycles become a more ubiquitous sight on roads here, the death of a cyclist in a traffic accident has highlighted the issue of whether road users are properly trained and aware of the features of other vehicles on the road.

Odd-job labourer Ang Thiam Beng, 55, was riding a power-aided bicycle when he got into an accident with a lorry at a signalised T-junction last Christmas Eve.

He suffered multiple injuries and died in hospital two days later.

The lorry had the right of way, but the views of both its driver and the cyclist were likely blocked by two successive MaxiCabs in the middle lane of Pioneer Road North.

State Coroner Marvin Bay, in finding Mr Ang’s death to be from an unfortunate traffic misadventure, said on Thursday: “This case underscores the need for both operators of motorised bicycles and heavy vehicles to appreciate and respect the dimensions and handling characteristics of each other’s vehicles.”

He added: “Motorised bicycles may move at a very high speed, and present a low profile.

“This is compounded by the fact that, as there is no certification process in place, operators may not have received any formal training on handling their power-assisted bicycles.

“Given this, these pedal cyclists of power-assisted bicycles may inadvertently travel into the blind spot of a heavy vehicle, or be oblivious to the fact that their presence cannot be made out if they are blocked from view from another large vehicle.”

The coroner’s court heard that Mr Ang, who did not have a driver’s licence, was making a right turn from Pioneer Road North to Jurong West Avenue 4 at about 2.15pm on Dec 24 when he failed to give way to oncoming traffic. He bought his bicycle – a model certified and approved by the Land Transport Authority – two months earlier.

The lorry, a box truck, was travelling from the opposite direction of Pioneer Road North, towards Ayer Rajah Expressway, and was on the leftmost lane of the three-lane road.

It was moving at between 49kmh and 56kmh, and the driver slowed down as he neared the junction, as the light was red.

However, the light turned green as the lorry driver was about five car lengths away from the junction, and he drove forward, while two MaxiCabs moved off slowly from the centre lane.

Mr Ang cut across the path of the cabs, which stopped in time.

But the lorry driver could not see Mr Ang and, as the cyclist entered the middle of the junction, the heavy vehicle and Mr Ang’s bicycle collided into each other.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2016, with the headline ‘Cyclist’s death casts spotlight on road safety awareness’

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