This piece of news caught my eye in the papers the other day.
Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong replaced the jail time of a French motorcyclist who punched a driver, with a $2000 fine because he felt it was too excessive, as it was not unprovoked.
The guy Mille punched was a driver, a Mr Chong, who tried to squeeze his car between another car and Mr Mille's motorbike, bumping his bike and sending it into a dangerous wobble.
I am not going to defend the punching/road rage, but the exchange between Deputy Public Prosecutor Gillian Koh-Tan and CJ Chan was very telling.
The DPP argued that Mr Chong Yuen had only caused a slight wobble with his collision. Mille "was unhurt and the motorcycle was not damaged," she said.
To which CJ Chan replied, "Don't you know it's very dangerous to knock into a motorcycle because the rider could fall and be run over by a car. You see the accidents. Who gets killed? It's the cyclists and motorcyclists."
CJ Chan also said, "Why was he (Mr Chong) in such a hurry? Doesn't he know that it's very dangerous to knock into a motorcycle?"
Amen and amen.
And when CJ asked if the driver was charged for his dangerous driving, the answer was no.
They should have charged that driver. It is time we came down hard on drivers who endanger the lives of vulnerable users of the roads.
The DPP's remarks, "He was unhurt and the motorcycle was not damaged" are symptomatic of a society that does not place the "burden of responsibility" with the driver when it comes to collisions. So tell me, when is a driver considered endangering a cyclist or motorcyclist? When the bike is a pile of twisted metal and the rider splattered all over the tarmac?
The minute a driver so much as comes too close, it already dangerous. That is why there is a 1.5m minimum safety distance law in place (that is hardly enforced or adhered to).
If everyone followed the DPP's thinking, then every driver can just buzz a cyclist (drive very close) or graze his tires, as long as the fella doesn't fall down and die.
I am encouraged by CJ Chan's understanding of the dangers faced by riders. Now let's see some tougher action on drivers who put other road users in danger.
In New York and Delaware, they passed "Vulnerable User" laws to protect to protect pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchairs and other users of the roads that don’t have a metal cage surrounding them.
Here, I'd settle for stricter (or ANY) enforcement of the 1.5m-when-passing rule.