Stop. Slow Down. Take Care.

Singapore Stop SignI think one of my biggest pet peeves in Singapore is the driving. Maybe it is just as bad back home but I was always safely on a sidewalk and pedestrians really had the right of way. More often than not, cars would let people cross no problem. But not in Singapore.

We have several walking routes. The one that heads to the Botanic Gardens includes a no-sidewalk leg. It’s a lovely curving road with lots of greenery (overgrown bushes on one side). For a residential street, it’s quite high traffic since it is a short cut.

I’m always leery handling two dogs, using driveways to dodge the traffic. If desperate I take the dogs and myself onto the grass, but often it’s full of litter, dog poop, cat food trays (for the strays), and other less than savoury remnants. So really it’s not my preference. 

Some cars take a wide berth and some actually slow down. But most – most seem to even speed up, my shirt tail lifting and my hair flying as they whizz by, my heart stopping for a split second. I’m not sure whether cars realize that for a person, it’s nerve-wrecking to have a car zoom by them. I don’t know you and I don’t know what kind of driver you are. 

This morning I was standing in the last driveway, at the last house, where we cross the street to where the sidewalk starts.  I was waiting for the oncoming traffic to pass. The first car, a van, decides to make a left turn into the driveway. I was preparing to move my dogs to the edge (which meant moving a little bit onto the road) when the second car – a red car – decides not to wait, and makes a drastic turn to overtake the van, swerving VERY close to us, as we were moving towards the road. It didn’t seem like she even had good control of the car. Of course I made a stop sign with my hand and yelled “watch out” as she drove by (more for myself really).

Patience is not a virtue here in Singapore. Their cultural identity hinges on the concept of kiasu.

What I also notice is that people turning onto a one way street only checks for oncoming traffic, not for pedestrian crossing the road. Just the other day, a car would have hit these two guys, if they hadn’t jumped out of the way. One guy actually had his hand on the hood as he launched himself away from the car. They were not jaywalking. The car had stopped and they were already crossing when the driver decided to move. 

So what to do?

  • Make eye contact with the driver before crossing in front of him (best if he signals for you to pass)
  • Cross the street behind the car (which is often the case since most cars don’t stop at all or don’t stop right at the stop sign, leaving no room for you to walk in front)
  • Assume that the drivers won’t slow down or take wide berth
  • Stop walking if you are on the road to minimize potential danger
  • As a driver, slow down – a few seconds can be the difference between life and death. Is it worth it?
  • Don’t be a bully. Being in a car doesn’t make you king of the road. Be considerate. Do you want the roads to be dangerous for yourself and children?

Road Traffic (Pedestrian Crossings) Rules 1982 (‘the Rules’) of Singapore

The driver of every vehicle at, or approaching, a pedestrian crossing where traffic is not for the time being controlled by a police officer or by light signals shall allow free and uninterrupted passage to any pedestrian who is either crossing or is starting to cross a road and every pedestrian shall have precedence over all vehicular traffic at such crossing. (referenced)


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