The next time you’re on a bicycle or personal mobility device (PMD) and you find yourself being stopped by someone in a yellow vest, you might want to check if you’ve been riding safely. Don’t worry, though, because these friendly neighbourhood Active Mobility Patrol (AMP) volunteers are here to simply advise you on safe riding practices.
32-year-old Gavin Chan is one of the youngest volunteers in the AMP scheme.
When asked about his motivation to join, he replied: “It was a synergy. Marine Parade naturally has a high density of PMD users. Sitting on the various grassroots committees, there was a lot of feedback about clashes between PMD users and pedestrians. Out of my own initiative, around five years ago, we started to look into how PMD users can co-exist safely with pedestrians.”
“We have also been doing our own initiatives – bicycle patrols with the police under the Citizens on Patrol initiative, and going around the estate with the cycling committee to highlight problem areas. When LTA proposed the AM Bill, we found synergy in what they’re trying to achieve and what we were trying to achieve.”
As a cyclist himself, Chan observed that “generally they’re pretty OK people but there are a few bad eggs who don’t adhere to safe cycling habits or they’re not familiar with Singapore’s practices because they’re foreigners and expats”.
The AMP Scheme was introduced by the Land Transport Authority in 2016. The scheme brings together volunteers to carry out regular patrols within their constituencies to spread key messages on how everyone can share paths in a gracious and responsible manner.
As such, what his AMP team tries to do is to educate both pedestrians and device users. “At the end of the day, the message we tell them is that if they’re not aware of these safety habits, if they really get into an accident, they’re on the losing end. They also have to be more aware while walking on the street. It’s for them to take responsibility for their safety.”
Chan’s role in the AMP scheme also includes coordinating on cycling matters for the whole Marine Parade constituency, for example, gathering data from the different residents committees on hotspots where device users and pedestrians are likely to clash.
Chan is just one of the 800 AMP volunteers under this scheme, which also includes members from various cycling and PMD hobby groups. An example would be the Punggol North Wheelers On Watch (PNWOW).
Initially founded as a neighbourhood watch group – along the lines of Citizen on Patrol, the members of PNWOW, with their trusty electric unicycles, now devote a portion of their patrol efforts as AMP volunteers.
For Chan, his brush with active mobility seven years ago was a chance encounter when he realised it took only 40 minutes to cycle to work. His daily commute from home to office used to take as long as two hours given the need to switch between the train and bus services. Cycling has now become a part of his lifestyle and he declares that it even shaves off some time from working out in the gym.
He also hopes that his efforts under the AMP scheme will help inspire more people to start adopting Active Mobility as part of their lifestyle. He observes that “there’s a growing awareness and interest in the use of Active Mobility (AM) devices, such as PMDs, in Singapore with more users coming on board” and “more users displaying good safety habits”.
“I hope that in 20 or 30 years’ time, people will have a much higher adoption rate of AM devices in their lives and reduce reliance on cars and other motor vehicles. And not just to the market, or school, but also to work. For me, I cycle 20km one way to work, so it’s 40km for a round trip.”
Finally, he also thinks that it is essential for every constituency to take part in the AMP scheme.
“It’s a commitment by device users to observe safety standards. I would definitely encourage having the AMP scheme and in fact, the general reaction (to the scheme) has been positive and the AMP team has been growing.”
Timothy Ang, 22, a bicycle mechanic who works in Marine Parade and cycles around for work and leisure, agrees with the necessity of such a scheme because “LTA isn’t always around to catch errant riders”.
Ang said: “I think it’s good to have because it keeps the paths safe and it’s educational for riders.”