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Mandatory license and theory test for road cyclists? | 2nd opinion

Mandatory license and theory test for road cyclists

The Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP) will review existing regulations governing cyclists on the roads as announced by Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat on 12 April 2021.

The review includes whether theory tests and licenses should be required for riding on roads. Currently, bicycles and ebikes (as known as Power Assisted Bicycles, PAB) are legally allowed to be used on roads.

Recently, there were a series of posts on social media showing errant cyclists disregarding traffic rules. Surely, if we give the errant cyclists the benefit of doubt that they do not know the traffic rules, then education and promoting road etiquette are the solution. On the other hand, if it is the behaviour, just like errant drivers, then licensing and penalties will be more appropriate. Therefore, education, regulations, enforcements, and rewards usually must work together to be a comprehensive measure.

Having said that, are we for certain that cyclists as a whole need to be regulated? The posts on social media do not necessarily portray the correct picture. Berger and Milkman [1] discovered that people liked to share with others intensely emotional news, followed by negative arousing news. Therefore, it cannot be the case that just because a topic is trending, we conveniently assume all cyclists are bad and need to be regulated. Maybe, just maybe, those errant cyclists may also be drivers who carry forward their bad driving habits to cycling.

We hope the AMAP and the relevant agencies can approach this with measures targeting all road users and not exclusively cyclists and ebike riders. If not, cyclists will share the same fate as e-scooter riders where the majority law-abiding riders suffer while the minority errant riders continue.

[1] Jonah Berger and Katherine L. Milkman. 2012. What makes online content viral? Journal of marketing research, 49(2), 192-205.

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