Lorry vs Cyclist: 5 points to learn for us all 

Now that everyone has calm down already, let’s see what both parties in the lorry and cyclist drama can potentially kena. Singapore is a no-nonsense country and everything here is law-by-law one.

Each party should bear some responsibility mah right or not? If not next time other driver go and bang cyclist also can get away with it.

1.) The lorry driver will kena what? 

In law, there are two different types of case you can face: civil and criminal. This is how it works:

Civil liabilities

Civil liability is like that say one: You can throw a punch, but you don’t have a right to hit my face.

Everybody share the road, but like they say…it is not your grandfather’s road. When you use the road, you are obliged to use it in such a way that does not cause hurt or damage to each other.

When the lorry go and hit the cyclist, he is said to have “attracted civil liabilities”. This means he must pay money to the cyclist for damage done; medical fees, repairs and any other injury.

Civil liabilities are claimed by victims, in this case, the cyclist. 

Criminal liabilities

On top of civil liabilities, the lorry driver may also face criminal liabilities. Criminal liabilities occur when one is in breach of a statutory law. In this case, it could have been either the Road Traffic Act, or even the Penal Code.

Criminal liabilities are imposed by prosecutors, in this case, the police.

Does the lorry driver have defences?

Although we can see that the lorry driver clearly hit the cyclist, it does not mean that he will be convicted of a crime or have to pay compensation.

He can shield himself with defences.

As we can all see in the video, the lorry looks as if he had hit the cyclist because the cyclist attacked the lorry first by punching the side mirror or window of the lorry. If the lorry driver was attacked, he is entitled to defend himself. 

This is called the right of self defence. However, it was reported that the driver told the police that he swerved because he thought he had hit a vehicle on his right hand side.

If he was accused of criminal liability, he also has rights to defence. Except this time it is known as the right of private defence. However, there are limits to this defence – you cannot use more force than is necessary to stop the attack.

Lorry vs Cyclist

2.) What about the cyclist?

We can see in the video that the cyclist did attack the lorry by damaging the lorry’s mirror. Similar to the situation of the driver, if the cyclist damaged the lorry, he may be liable to the lorry driver, or may have committed a criminal offence.

In the video, it looked as if the cyclist started the attack, but this time it is unlikely that the defence of self defence would be available to the cyclist. 

You can say that the driver sounded his horn – but that is not likely to say he provoked the driver. (If it is like that, then everyday the roads got people provoking each other)

 

3.) What claims can either party seek from each other?

In both cases, there is opportunity for remedies to be sought for either damaged property or personal injuries sustained. These claims are available through private action at the civil courts.

The law provides compensation to a person who has suffered loss either negligently or intentionally. Broadly speaking, if an act is found to be intentional, the damages available could be broader and more generous than for negligent torts (acts where the tortfeasor did not take care to fulfil a duty of care).

Lorry vs Cyclist

4.) Internet vigilantes identify wrong cyclist – what can happen to them?

Each time there is a public outcry like this, internet vigilantes are just too eager to find out who is the culprit. But this is a wrong thing to do.

An employee of a local bank was wrongly and innocently identified as the cyclist in the video. Because of this, the poor fella kena all the verbal abuse and threats.

This can be construed as defamation – so please don’t share if you don’t know. Merely sharing a defamatory post is enough to expose you to a defamation suit.

If an act of defamation was to be found, this person may have remedies against the people that run the online sites and chat groups that have allowed or caused the news to spread. The victim can ask his lawyer to order a cease and desist against the sites that are carrying the stories.

5.) What rules are cyclists bound by?

Cyclists are road users also and there is legislation that govern them exclusively. This is found in Chapter 276, Section 140, aka Road Traffic (Bicycles) Rules. 

In summary, these are the rules cyclists have to abide by:

Riding in an “orderly fashion”

The act prescribes that “No bicycle shall be ridden or propelled otherwise than in an orderly manner and with due regard for the safety of others.” Cyclists have to generally behave on the roads and do their best not to endanger other road users. 

Always keep left and yield to faster traffic

The law states “Every bicycle shall be ridden close to the left hand edge of the roadway and in such a manner as not to obstruct vehicles moving at a faster speed”.

This means cyclists may not ride in the middle of a lane. They must travel on the left hand edge of a road.

Not more than two cyclists may ride side by side

“No bicycle shall be ridden on the right of any two other bicycles proceeding abreast in the same direction except when overtaking such other bicycles or on parts of roads or paths set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles”. 

Furthermore, the Highway Code recommends that cyclists ride in single-file whenever possible.

Lights have to be used in the hours of darkness

“Every pedal bicycle or power-assisted bicycle shall, during the hours of darkness, carry a lamp showing to the front, a white light visible from a reasonable distance”.

This is prescribed to be “a lamp or a red reflector showing to the rear a red light or a red reflector visible from a reasonable distance”.

Cyclists  must signal intentions

Just like cars, cyclists also have to signal his or her intentions. This is not limited to turning left and right, but also to signal slowing down. 

Although there are remedies and defences available at law for injured parties, we must understand that roads are to be shared and enjoyed by all. The laws are available for protection and guidance but all of us are bound to use the roads in a responsible and patient manner. 

Safety and consideration on the roads is far more important than insisting on a right of way. 


If you’d like to contribute your story to us, drop us an email at [email protected] and we’ll review it. We read each submission that comes to us within two weeks of receiving it.

Baey Yandao

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