[Letters] What should we do to prevent ‘Cycling Hits’ ?

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[Letters] What should we do to prevent ‘Cycling Hits’ ?

With the financial crisis still pressuring the world economy and with regulations concerning greenhouse gas emissions getting tougher, people are turning to transportations other than their gas guzzling vehicles.

Among them the bicycle is getting the biggest spotlight since the last 10 years, with president Lee Myung-bak recently announcing that he would be using bicycles to commute back and forth the presidential office.

However, the recent efforts made by government and municipal agencies to promote using bicycles as a means of transportation seem to be hindered by a number of problems.

The first obstacle that threatens cyclists is the profligate laws concerning the use of bicycles.

Much of the plans designed to protect bicycle users were crossed off the final list made in 1999.

As a result, many laws on bicycles come across a paradoxical situation, sometimes identifying the bicycle as a vehicle and other times not, making bicycle users vulnerable to accidents that could be prevented when having the right measures and provision.

Countries such as Switzerland or Germany, where measures to protect bicycle users are well established, traffic signals allow bicycles to move ahead of vehicles so as to prevent collisions during heavy traffic hours.

Germany even fines drivers when they are less than 3 feet with bicycles. Our country however, lacks even the basic safety regulations needed for reducing collisions.

Lack of ‘bicycle-only’ lanes is another problem domestic bicycle users face.

According to the report released by Ministry of Public Administration and Security in 2008, of the 729km of bicycle lanes installed in Seoul more than 80% of them also serve as a pedestrian road.

Lanes used exclusively for cyclists consist of 15% of the total tracks. Other cities and provinces are basically under the same situation. This serves as a risk not only to bicycle users but to pedestrians as well.

Especially with many bicycle models having the U-shaped handles, injuries due to collisions can be aggravated.

Lack of safety educations are also a major reason in inducing cycle accidents.

Although basic safety instructions are held in municipal institutions or amateur bicycle clubs, a proper and organized curriculum is vacant. Because of this many users overlook even the simplest of safety measures, such as riding from the right side of the bicycle since automobiles transit from the left side.

The users themselves are responsible for their lack of vigilance, being unable to protect themselves with safety helmets or other equipments that could minimize collision traumas.

According to statistics released by the Road Traffic Authority Comprehensive Analysis Center Accident, the number of bicycle accidents has increased from 5546 cases in 2002 to 10848 cases in 2008.

What’s more is that 80 to 90 percent of the accidents involved collision with four wheeled vehicles. With more and more people turning attention to bicycles, cyclists may encounter more precarious situations.

In order to prevent this, the government should establish new sanctions, with vehicles users understanding and considering the safety of bicycle users, while cyclists themselves must be cautious about safety regulations and always be vigilant towards unexpected accidents.

Kang Jae-yoon,

Daewon Foreign Language High School
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