By Sylvia Toh Paik Choo
FOUR wheels good, two wheels even better?
For the environment and the pocket, definitely yes.
But for the rest of us in its willy-nilly path, the bicycle can be a menace. More to the point, the person behind the handlebars is the one to be feared.
The number of times little old ladies have jumped out of their crinkled skins and children have scattered because of some inconsiderate jerk barrelling down on them tells us it's time to think about a licence.
Heaven knows, enough bike riders out there on the streets already believe they have a licence to brush past, run into, injure and maim passers-by and bystanders, so let's make it official.
Not so much a licence plate for the two-wheeler, but a bicycling licence for the rider.
He will have to sit for and pass a road culture kind of highway code, its primary aim to teach the two-bit prince of the road that flesh is more important than rubber and metal.
In India and China, bicycles are a mainstay, as millions depend on this mode of transport for practically everything, right down to moving house.
They have got it down to an art, weaving in and out of lorry convoys, village wedding parties, markets, highways.
So expect foreign nationals on bicycles to abound around you - just clue them in that this is Singapore, and roads around Sheng Siong in the heartland and Little India are not their grandfather's.
Repeat after me, people first, kiasu last. This is a pedestrian crossing, that is a red light, and you ever hear of one-way traffic or not?
When in Rome, do as the...
Draconian measures aside, we do want to encourage an eco-friendly society, but not at the expense of one's safety.
It looks like one for the big boys' agenda, then. Re-drawing our street directory to include formal bicycle routes (outside of for sport and leisure), proper gear like helmets and a luminous item of clothing, if not neon spokes.
The Velib system - which I regularly use in Paris - is one for the think tank. A public bicycle rental service you can subscribe to for a day ($2), a week ($10) or a year ($60) from automatic stations all over the city (20,000 bikes, 1,450 terminals). Small problem: Sometimes you can't find an empty lot to return your bike.
A bigger problem here would be - once licensed, can an ERP for two wheels be far behind?