Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Love Song for the Road Cyclist

There's so much hype about cycling on footpaths. Pedestrians and motorists alike complain about the position of the cyclist. Some errant motorists have even come out to publicly thrash that cyclists have no right-of-way on the roads. Thanks to their impatience, lack of education, lack of social grace and understanding, and absolute lack of human respect. I'm compelled to plead motorists to SHARE the roads with other road users - and this includes cyclists, pedestrians, and our mobility-challenged friends.

This song, sung to the tune of Elton John's 'Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word', was written by me while I was in a cab on my way back to the office.


What did I just do to make you honk me?
What did I just do to make you curse?
What do I do when drivers cut me,
when I get squeezed like I'm not there.

What do I do to make you want me?
What have I got to do to be heard?
What do I say when it gets ugly?
When SHARING seems to be the hardest word.

It's sad, so sad
It's a sad, sad situation
And it's getting more and more absurd
It's sad, so sad
Why can't we talk it over
Oh it seems to me
That SHARING seems to be the hardest word

What did I just do to make you honk me?
What have I got to do to be heard?
What can I do when drivers cut me?
What have I got to do?
What have I got to do?
When SHARING seems to be the hardest word.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tampines pavement cycling trial begins

"Cyclists take to footpaths," By Grace Chiang. TODAY, 15 May 2007.

Tampines trial to assess safety of bikers and pedestrians

Gracia Chiang

IT IS a common dilemma for cyclists: Do they cycle legally on the roads, where they risk being knocked down by motor vehicles, or cycle illegally on pedestrian paths?

Soon, a small group of them living in Tampines may not have to worry - as the authorities are reviewing legislation after cycling on footpaths has been banned for more than 20 years.

With cycling increasingly popular in the heartlands, the Land Transport Authority, Traffic Police and Tampines grassroots organisations will be conducting a study to assess the feasibility of allowing two-wheelers on footpaths.

For a year from May 27, cyclists in the town will be exempted from Rule 28 of the Road Traffic Rules.

Tampines was picked because of its large cycling population and well-used park connectors. From her door-to-door visits, Tampines GRC Member of Parliament Irene Ng noted that at least three in 10 homes have bicycles.

The study will help the tripartite committee to understand "if Singaporeans are generally ready to share the footways". The town will have the option of making the arrangement permanent if the trial is successful, said Mr Ng Guat Tin, the Traffic Police deputy assistant commissioner.

This programme may be one way to curb the increase in the number of accidents involving cyclists on the roads. There were 507 cases last year compared to 376 in 2005.

Despite the ban, in practice, the Traffic Police does not penalise those who cycle on footpaths unless they are reckless, which is why many cyclists think the law should be scrapped. Twenty-one cyclists were issued summonses for cycling along footways last year, up from 19 in 2005, and 10 in 2004.

Said the president of Singapore Amateur Cycling Association Victor Yew: "We don't want to feel afraid that we may be doing something illegal when we ride on the pavement."

Housewife Linda Chan, 36, who cycles to her son's kindergarten every day, uses the designated cycling paths whenever possible, but said it is "so much more convenient to ride on the pavements". "I cycled on the roads until a few years ago - when I almost lost control of my bicycle because of a speeding car," she said.

But others feel lifting the ban may result in more danger for elderly pedestrians. Tampines resident Zhang Fa, 62, said: "Young cyclists who ride very fast have almost knocked me down more than once. I think this will just make it worse."

An independent consultant has been appointed to evaluate the study. More than 80 cycling wardens will be deployed in Tampines to encourage safe cycling and reward gracious behaviour.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Women cyclists more at risk of death

Women cyclists are more likely to be killed by lorries than men because they obey red lights and then wait in drivers' blind spots.

Research by Transport for London, which has been kept secret since last July, suggests that cyclists who jump red lights may be safer than those who stick to the law.

Read more (read the comments as well)

Any street-savvy tips for Singapore?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Building a better bike lane

The WAll Street Journal
May 4, 2007; Page W1

COPENHAGEN -- No one wears bike helmets here. They're afraid they'll mess up their hair. "I have a big head and I would look silly," Mayor Klaus Bondam says.

People bike while pregnant, carrying two cups of coffee, smoking, eating bananas. At the airport, there are parking spaces for bikes. In the emergency room at Frederiksberg Hospital on weekends, half the biking accidents are from people riding drunk. Doctors say the drunk riders tend to run into poles.

Flat, compact and temperate, the Netherlands and Denmark have long been havens for bikers. In Amsterdam, 40% of commuters get to work by bike. In Copenhagen, more than a third of workers pedal to their offices. But as concern about global warming intensifies -- the European Union is already under emissions caps and tougher restrictions are expected -- the two cities are leading a fresh assault on car culture. A major thrust is a host of aggressive new measures designed to shift bike commuting into higher gear, including increased prison time for bike thieves and the construction of new parking facilities that can hold up to 10,000 bikes.

The rest of Europe is paying close attention. Officials from London, Munich and Zurich (plus a handful from the U.S.) have visited Amsterdam's transportation department for advice on developing bicycle-friendly infrastructure and policies. Norway aims to raise bicycle traffic to at least 8% of all travel by 2015 -- double its current level -- while Sweden hopes to move from 12% to 16% by 2010. This summer, Paris will put thousands of low-cost rental bikes throughout the city to cut traffic, reduce pollution and improve parking.

The city of Copenhagen plans to double its spending on biking infrastructure over the next three years, and Denmark is about to unveil a plan to increase spending on bike lanes on 2,000 kilometers, or 1,240 miles, of roads. Amsterdam is undertaking an ambitious capital-improvement program that includes building a 10,000-bike parking garage at the main train station -- construction is expected to start by the end of next year. The city is also trying to boost public transportation usage, and plans to soon enforce stricter car-parking fines and increase parking fees to discourage people from driving.

read more..

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Introducing people to the joy of cycling on park connectors - Terra Outdoors (ST, 02 May 2007)

"Connecting with the great outdoors," by Tan Hui Yee. The Straits Times, 02 May 2007.

A hidden network of green-lined paths that criss-cross the whole island is just calling out to be explored, as Tan Hui Yee discovers

Unnoticed by many, there is a secret world of backlanes by quiet brooks and shaded paths that take you from the sea to the heart of the land through sleepy housing estates.

These are the park connectors in Singapore - stretching over 74km now - which allow users to run, walk or cycle from one green lung to another with ease. By 2015, the network will stretch over 170km, creating an intricate network of green-lined pathways all over this 700 sq km of an island.

Some parts are more well-used than others, but they generally don't get as much attention as the more well-known green spaces like East Coast Park.

Adventure group Terra Outdoors hopes to change that, by introducing people to the joy of cycling on these trails. Run by avid sportswomen Boey Lai Wan and Chow Suet Ling, both 29, it also conducts basic cycling courses for beginners and takes them on rides around these trails.

Ms Boey told Mind Your Body: 'It's a different way to take in Singapore. There are places that you never knew existed, where motor vehicles have no access.

'Because the park connectors are so quiet, they are good places to relax at the beginning and end of each day.'

Depending on which route you take, there are varied sights. Those who venture out west along Sungei Ulu Pandan would spot egrets, which roost at night in the compounds of the Jurong BirdPark. Herons, woodpeckers and kites can also be seen.

Venture closer to central Singapore, down the Kallang River, and you get to view the charming St Andrew's School, a cluster of conserved buildings built from the 1940s onwards.

The eastern route, which Mind Your Body explored recently with Terra Outdoors, takes you from Pasir Ris to East Coast Park. Along the way, there are mangrove swamps, a fishing pond, a reservoir, as well as an interesting undulating ride on a trail near Bedok Reservoir.

The National Parks Board plans to introduce integrated bike rental services along the eastern park connector, which links up Bedok Reservoir Park, SunPlaza Park, East Coast Park and Changi Beach Park.

This means that people may soon be able to rent a bicycle at one park and return it at another when they are done with cycling.

Park connectors are mostly flat, so cycling on them is not physically demanding. However, cyclists have to be careful to avoid pedestrians who occasionally stray into their path and be prepared to get off their bikes and push them across pedestrian crossings and overhead bridges if needed.

The routes can sometimes be blocked by construction work, so be aware of surrounding traffic when making detours on the road. As with cycling in other conditions, be sure to check your bicycle's brakes and gears before moving off, and wear a helmet as well as bright or light-coloured clothing to be more visible, especially when riding at night.

Happy wheeling!

More information on Terra Outdoors can be found at

See Park Connector Maps in Habitatnews Flickr album.

Pasir Ris Park to East Coast Park
(Tampines Park, Bedok and Siglap Park connectors)

THE RIDE (ABOUT 15KM) Follow the Tampines Park Connector from Pasir Ris Park, which starts near where Sungei Tampines drains into the sea. The connector traverses the river southwards, bringing taking you past Downtown East on your left and, across Pasir Ris Drive 3, a (not really busy) fishing pond in the town park. At the Tampines Expressway, cross south and head west to continue along the connector till you reach SunPlaza (one word) Park. Follow the signs leading you to Bedok Reservoir Park through Tampines, then continue onward via Bedok Town Park to the Siglap Park Connector. You will need to cross the Pan-Island Expressway by an overhead bridge before continuing your journey alongside Siglap Canal. Along the way, you will also cross East Coast and Marine Parade roads, and pass St Patrick's School on your right. Finally, take the underpass that will lead you to East Coast Park, near Carpark 3.

THE SIGHTS There are many signs along this route to point you in the right direction. Kingfishers can be spotted along the Siglap Canal, and you will pass by a variety of housing estates – from spanking new condominiums to pleasant public housing blocks and sleepy private homes with back gates opening onto the park connector. The cluster of schools in the Marine Parade area – St Patrick's, CHIJ Katong Convent and Victoria Junior College – also make an engaging sight.

WATCH OUT Although there are many things to see, the path can be narrow at times so watch out for pedestrians. A Part of the route is involves riding through Tampines New Town, which can get quite busy and crowded. The good thing is that pavements there are divided into bike and footpaths. Take a map with you as there are many roads to cross.

Buona Vista to Jurong Hill (Ulu Pandan and Jurong connectors)

THE RIDE (ABOUT 25KM) Starting from the canal opposite Buona Vista MRT station, follow the Ulu Pandan Park Connector westwards, across Sungei Pandan, and past the International Business Park on your left. Once you hit Boon Lay Way, follow this road westwards, passing Chinese Garden MRT station and Jurong Lake on your left. Turn left into Yuan Ching Road, and get onto the Jurong Park Connector just south of Lakeside MRT station. Follow that path along Sungei Lanchar, until you reach the Ayer Rajah Expressway. Cross under the highway and you will find yourself at Jurong BirdPark. Then take a deep breath and pedal up Jurong Hill Road to reach the top of the 60m peak.

THE SIGHTS This scenic ride is a treat for birdlovers as herons, egrets, woodpeckers and even parakeets can be found in the woodlands around the Ulu Pandan connector. Jurong Lake, which you will pass, is a rest stop amidst tranquil surroundings. For those who persist till the end, there is a three-storey spiral lookout tower on top of Jurong Hill from where you can catch 360-degree views of the area. There's also a restaurant serving Japanese and Indonesian food if you need to refuel for the return journey.

WATCH OUT You will need to cycle by some roads to get from one park connector to another, as well as cross some roads, so ride safely and watch out for oncoming traffic.

Upper Boon Keng Road to Bishan Park
(Kallang Park Connector)

THE RIDE (ABOUT 15KM) Starting from behind Geylang West Community Club, hop on the Kallang Park Connector and follow the Kallang River northwards in the direction of Bendemeer Road (the river is crossed by a bridge near Block 14 in Upper Boon Keng Road). Cross Serangoon Road, ride past the homes in Moonstone Lane, then cross the busy Pan Island Expressway by the overhead pass close to the cluster of schools known as St Andrew's Village. Continuing along the Kallang Park Connector, you will pass Potong Pasir on your right, cross Braddell Road by the ComfortDelGro office and head north towards Bishan Park, where the route ends.

THE SIGHTS This is an efficient short-cut for residents travelling from Potong Pasir to Bishan, and passes through a number of housing estates along the way. Admire the conserved buildings in St Andrew's School and soothe those tired muscles at the Aramsa spa in Bishan Park.

WATCH OUT There are many roads and bridges to cross, so be prepared to get off your bike and push it along where it is not safe to ride. This path is mostly unshaded so it can get quite hot on a sunny day.

Kim Seng Road to East Coast Park
(promenades by Singapore River and Marina Bay, and Kallang Park Connector)

THE RIDE (ABOUT 15KM) Starting from Kim Seng Park, by Kim Seng Road opposite Great World City, you will ride along the promenade by the Singapore River, past Robertson Quay, Clarke Quay, and the Asian Civilisations Museum on your left. Cycle down Queen Elizabeth Walk, then turn right to follow the Marina Promenade on the bayfront until you hit Crawford Street. Cross Rochor River near Block 4 in Crawford Street to reach the Kallang Park Connector at the Kallang Riverside Park, and head towards Stadium Road on the opposite bank. by crossing via Geylang Road. Go past the Singapore Indoor Stadium and onto Tanjong Rhu bridge, which you ride over into Tanjong Rhu Road. That leads to Fort Road and the East Coast Park.

THE SIGHTS If you haven't had much of a life lately, this will acquaint you with many of Singapore's attractions at one go – the Singapore River, the quaint river bridges, the Asian Civilisations Museum, the Esplanade, and the soon-to-be completed giant ferris wheel, Singapore Flyer.

WATCH OUT The riverfront promenade can get quite crowded with diners and strollers in the evenings. There are also frequent road crossings and a fair number of underpasses where you are expected to dismount and push your bike across.