Pedestrians should have a code of ethics

From ‘Establish a pedestrian’s code of ethics’ 20 Jan 2017, Voices, Today

(Tay Yong Hong): Cyclists and personal mobility device users will soon be regulated by laws on the proper usage of roads and paths. I believe that pedestrians should not be spared (“Jail, fines to combat reckless use of personal mobility devices”; Jan 11).

Sometimes I feel ashamed of how some of us walk on footpaths and park connectors with disregard for our own safety and that of others. Before the new laws take effect, we should establish a pedestrian’s code of ethics. 

Pedestrians should always keep left on the path and should use only the footpath if there is a separate cycle path. Parents should hold their children when using a shared path.

Pedestrians should not use headphones to listen to music and should not read and text on their mobile phone. When a shared path is narrow, they should walk in a single row so as not to obstruct others.

With such rules in place, it would be fairer to users of all modes of transport.

6 years ago, another writer proposed that pedestrians should all walk on the RIGHT. More recently, someone conjectured that commuters should stick to the LEFT of escalators instead of climbing them. Today, we brush against pedestrians glued to their handphones. In the past, we condemn them for wearing Walkmans in the streets.

Swimmers protest that people are not making their laps in only one direction. Runners request for standardisation on how jogging tracks are used, clockwise or counter-clockwise. Maybe we should put a speed limit on joggers too, or have signs to ban the use of selfie sticks as maids tend to do as they traipse along Orchard Road on Sundays. Before you know it we’d all be marching along to the beat of a metronome.


Thankfully, the only rule that you can break if you’re a walker is if you cross the road illegally. If the authorities decide to issue guidelines on ethical walking, then you can’t take a relaxing stroll without worrying if you’ve overstepped your boundaries, or be judged as a nuisance if you’re roaming around holding hands with a loved one. You can’t even bend down to smell a flower without being finger-wagged at for disrupting pedestrian flow.

Have we underestimated the Singaporean capacity for common sense and due consideration to warrant a safety manual for how to walk in public? Or has everyone on the streets gone so berserk, whether it’s rogue e-bikers,  Mercedes drivers in the wrong direction or goddamn buses careening into pavements and void decks, that we need to saddle our pedestrians with more regulation?

Time to put on your walking shoes and jive before cool strutting becomes unlawful.


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