I was asked where are the places to be cautious of on the island and to my limited knowledge, here are the main roads on Ubin that may pose serious threats to the unwary cyclist.
1) "Cemetery Hill"
This is the slope up Jalan Wat Siam where the previous Thai Temple and Kekek quarry is, after the fork to Ketam Quarry. So named because of the chinese cemetery located beside the steep slope. Not quite auspicious but easy to remember. This is where the accident happened.
2) Slope in front of Belatok Hut
DJ Zhou Chong Qing fell at this slope last year. Personally I've only gone down this slope once and it was quite frightening especially since (if I remember correctly) there is a speed bump at the end of the slope which may throw off the cyclist's balance if they've been going too fast from speed accumulated from coming down slope. Braking too suddenly may not help either!
3) Road to Chek Jawa
Now that the boardwalk is open, many people cycle to Chek Jawa but the road is off road, unpaved, rocky and at several points, steep. A fellow pedal ubin guide, Athena, wrote that her friend, a seasoned cyclist with his own, very expensive bicycle gear, crashed at the road beside the quarry en route Chek Jawa and ended up with his lungs punctured!
Pedal Ubin's original objective was to promote safe cycling on the island and every so often, I feel the importance of our objective when accidents like these happen. It's so important to remember:
- always use your gears accordingly
- moderate your brakes as you come downhill (press down gently throughout the process of coming downhill)
- do not suddenly jam your brakes
- use your back brakes and not your front or you'll be thrown forward in front of your bike!
- do not panic (this is very important when you see obstructions in front of you)
- ride safely and cautiously!
If a lousy cyclist such as myself can survive these slopes without a scrape in the last 5 years then surely, anyone can manage it too with the right practices! But even experienced and expert cyclists get into accidents so beware all!
Latest Update @ 9 Sep, 8.35am
Heard on Capital 95.8fm reporting news of this fatal accident on Pulau Ubin but could not find the transcript on the website. Still waiting for media to come up with the print version.
A fellow Pedal Ubin guide, Athena, emailed the list regarding this accident having read it from the togoparts forum.
"tragedy at p. ubin yesterday. a cyclist loss control of the bike going down a slope and flipped with the bike. evacuated to mainland hospital but did not make it later in hospital. died of head injuries.Latest Update @ 9 Sep, 12.56pm
wat started out to be a weekend family outing, ended in tragedy. my sincere condolences goes out to the family.
but can this be prevented by wearing a helmet?......
i think it should be compulsory to wear helmets while riding in ubin. there's just too many accidents. i hope this tragedy never ever happens again."
Thanks to the comments left on this blog post, apparently the police took half an hour to locate the scene of the accident. According to reports from Capital 95.8fm, the accident happened at night. Read the radio news transcript. However, The New Paper reports that it happened in the late afternoon.
In case of emergency on the island, here are some useful numbers:
Ubin NParks: 65424108
Ubin coastguard: 65428664
However, always remember that the island is not as accessible as mainland Singapore and dangers do exist. There is little to no public street lighting on the island as electricity is available only through generators on the island. As such I would not advice people to cycle in the dark of Ubin if you are not familiar with the island! Coming down a steep slope in the dark of the night is quite dangerous. Tandem bicycles are also difficult to control.
"Mum of three falls off bike and dies on family outing", The New Paper, 9 Sep 2008
一对母女在乌敏岛骑脚踏车时滑倒 造成一死一伤 [capital 95.8fm report of this cycling accident], Capital 95.8fm, 9 Sep 2008
Ten cyclists injured each month on Pulau Ubin's 'danger spot'" Channel News Asia, 9 Jun 2007
"Days earlier, other student dies after fall from bike", The New Paper, 18 Jul 2006