Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Straits Times: "Sembawang, Woodlands to get cycling paths"

"Sembawang, Woodlands to get cycling paths," by He Zongying and Daryl Tan. The Straits Times, 25 Jun 2008. 7.4km of tracks will run alongside existing footpaths and cost $2.8m.

Cyclists and pedestrians in Sembawang and Woodlands will each get their own space from May next year.

These two estates will be provided with 7.4km of cycling tracks. They will run parallel to the existing footpaths linking residential areas to the Sembawang and Admiralty MRT stations.

The cycling tracks will be between 1.5m and 2m wide and cost $2.8 million.

Keeping cyclists on a separate path is a step up from what the Land Transport Authority, the Traffic Police and the Tampines grassroots organisations have been contemplating in the past year.

A trial letting cyclists and pedestrians share footpath space in Tampines has recently ended and a decision on whether separate cycle paths should be built in the estate is expected soon.

Surveys have indicated that both cyclists and pedestrians there seemed generally in favour of the idea of sharing the footpaths in order to get cyclists off the busy roads.

The initiative in Sembawang and Woodlands was the result of feedback from residents, who wanted to minimise accidents and conflict between cyclists and pedestrians.

Mr Hawazi Daipi, an MP for Sembawang GRC, said that the two estates were going ahead with building the cycling tracks because a 'considerable' number of their residents got around the neighbourhood on bicycles. This includes foreign workers living in the dormitories there.

Three in four cyclists killed on the roads in the first three months of this year were foreigners. The Traffic Police have stepped up a safety education programme targeting them.

The committee coordinating the facilities in Sembawang, Woodlands and Yishun has lined up talks and seminars for residents and foreign workers on the responsible use of the cycling tracks.

Signs and speed-regulating strips will also be installed.

Besides those who commute on wheels, recreational cyclists will also be provided for. A park connector running along Sembawang Way will be built by 2010.

Thanks to WildSingapore.

See also this comment.

The Northside goes One Up against the Eastside

With all the recent hooha about whether each township should install bicycle-friendly facilities for the residents, the Northside consisting of Sembawang and Woodlands have forged ahead with plans for cycling paths. Meanwhile, the eastern town of Tampines is still being cautious about implementing shared footpaths for pedestrians and bicycle users.

Both town councils have a very pragmatic approach to making their townships liveable and 'green', and I'm sure it bodes well in terms of setting a standard for other townships to follow. This is a necessary step to ensure harmony by indirectly promoting graciousness between all transport users. I know it sounds kinda utopian, but isn't it better than not having such facilities?

My only hope is that the cycling paths are planned according to international standards so we all start right from the beginning.

Sunday, June 15, 2008 for cycling routes

I reflect on our route mapping endeavours in 2004 during which we wanted to create cycling maps with annotations and indications of safety for cyclists. The methods at the time were time-consuming or copyright restrictions were inclear so we sat back and let technology catch up. Eventually Google Earth/Google Maps and has come to the rescue for most of our needs. I thought I should add this note to explain our per-bikely map trail on the internet!

"The Bicycle Route Mapping Project" (2004)

In 2004, Paul Barter discussed a Bicycle Route Mapping Project with the rest of us in this "Cycling in Singapore" blog.

The project intended to assist cyclists in choosing safe routes to commute using a colour coded overlay on a map which indicated the relative safety of roads. Cyclists could eyeball a safe route to cycle to work or simply to enjoy a safe leisure ride.

We discussed many methods but none were easy for a layman to use. In the end, tracing, xeroxing and colouring the maps by hand and subsequently scanning them seemed to be the fastest way to put them up on the web! Paul did as much and produced Cycle SG Maps ver 1.0 (note you can click for the larger, original images). I used iView Media Pro (now Microsoft Expression Engine) to create the album. These are useful maps to examine for the first timer or for the veteran to reflect on. Considerable thought and discussion went into it. But it was a stop-gap measure at the time which provided, amongst other things, a one-glance assessment of cycling friendliness of an area.

Cycle SG maps ver 1.0 [pbarter-26oct2004] - 3/8

"Cycling Routes to Live By" (2004)

I had long been interested in provising a detailed, graphical breakdown of some of my cycling routes. These defied a simple written description for they made use of the bike's urban versatility to include detours to wide, low pedestrian-traffic pavements, residential areas and an underpass or two. All of this was an effort to avoid the busiest or most dangerous roads.

Virtual Map's Singapore Street Directory was then available online. After a series of screen grabs with SnapNDrag and edits with Graphic Converter, I used Claris Home Page to put up a webpage that cyclists could use. The route? My time-tested Serangoon Gardens to NUS cycling route which I had used for about a decade then.

Serangoon Gardens - NUS

That webpage was meant to be the first of a planned series called "Cycling routes to live by". Before working on the maps further, I sought permission from Virtual Maps. I wanted to annotate the maps directly with Graphic Converter and include route highlights. Virtual Map had no objection to this non-profit exercise, but we were supposed to meet for me to finalise the matter. But they were busy and eventually because I was too, the project faded.

But this was a laborious method. Also, I was very familiar with this particular route and had introduced many friends to it. So I could detail it relatively easily and quickly. The other routes would take more work.

The promise of Google Earth (2005)

In 2005, Google Earth was released and increasingly available. By late 2005 I was using the beta for the Mac OS X which went official in January 2006. In May 2006, the mashup, was launched. By August, route editing and commenting was provided. But only satellite views were available for Singapore then. In December 2006, however, singeo was able to say "thank you Santa" - Singapore street maps had became available in Google Maps! Bikely was successful and in June 2007, bikely subscribers were informed that the baton had been passed to Future Publishing. All in less than a year.

There are now 197 Singapore cycling routes in Bikely. I added my Serangoon Gardens to NUS cycling route last night and it is now at The route is mirrored on It took me just five minutes to map that route. I'll add annotations next. It's all unbelievably simple and quick!

Bikely - Serangoon Gardens to NUS

Bikely has not yet provided everything we need, but it is likely that will come. We can happily plot our routes for the moment, knowing that the information we provide can be integrated with future tools.

So add your routes and annotate them well so that locals and visitors alike can make sense of it. Remember you can download the KMZ files into Google Earth, so have fun with that too.

Happy trails!

See routes submitted by Chu Wa and Paul Barter.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

LTA Foldable bicycle user survey

LTA would like to gather feedback from cyclists who own foldable bicycles about the trial to allow foldable bicycles onboard trains and buses, which commenced on 24 May 08. Cyclists may return the survey form to Terence Koah at by 12 Jun 08.

Download the survey (word doc) here.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tampines Town Hall Forum discusses the pavement cycling trial

Reports are out:

  • "Footpath cycling: A happy ending?" By Sheralyn Tay. Today, 09 Jun 2008. (lead story),

  • "Tampines considers extending trial to let cyclists share footpath with pedestrians," by Asha Popatlal. Channel News Asia, 08 Jun 2008 and

  • "Cyclists-on-footpaths trial may be extended," by Melissa Sim. The Straits Times, 09 Jun 2008.(free story) Study shows Tampines residents quite positive to idea of sharing paths.

    A few highlights:

    "THE year-long trial in Tampines to allow cyclists on footpaths might well be extended. Residents will know the decision in two weeks - be it to extend the trial, to allow cyclists on footpaths or to send them back to the roads.

    Speaking at the fourth Tampines Town Hall Forum, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan, a Tampines GRC MP, said the Tampines grassroots groups would consult the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Traffic Police, but 'ultimately, whether we proceed or not, depends on the residents'.

    He noted that the response to the trial and figures from an evaluation done by an independent consultancy seem to indicate that Tampines residents were 'moderately positive' about cyclists and pedestrians sharing the footpaths.

    The trial ended on May 30.
    - The Straits Times, 09 Jun 2008.

    "National Development Minister and MP for Tampines GRC, Mah Bow Tan, said, "One day you may be a cyclist, and (on) another (day), you may be pedestrian, so don't think you are in one camp or the other. We are all cyclists or pedestrians at one time or another, and if we all learn to co-exist, we are actually making life more pleasant for ourselves and our families.""
    - Channel News Asia, 08 Jun 2008.

    "One suggestion from Dr Paul Barter, Assistant Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, was to have a"bicycle unit" in the LTA, where there should be a "Mr or Ms Bicycle".

    He said in a presentation: "There is no person here to go to in order to get it right." Citing the example of Western Australia, he noted that having a person in charge has improved bicycling habits there.

    "Town Councils may not have the resources to find out what to do, but a bicycle unit within the LTA could coordinate such traffic policies," he said."
    - Today, 09 Jun 2008.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Park 'dis-connectors' are really just jogging or cycling paths: letter

"Park 'dis-connectors' not for jogging or cycling," letter by Liang Wern Kang. The Straits Times forum page, 02 Jun 08.

"I READ with interest about the recent Leisure Plan by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). Under the plan, 260km of park connectors will be added in the next 10 to 15 years.

I have always wondered what a park connector is. Let me recount what I encountered the other day. I was cycling along the Ulu Pandan Park Connector from beneath Commonwealth Avenue West towards the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE).

When I was about 50m from the AYE, the path tapered into a patch of wild grass. A sign read: 'This is the end of park connector. For your own safety, please do not go beyond this point.'

From the NParks website, the Ulu Pandan Park Connector is T-shaped and has three end points: Bukit Batok East Avenue 2 near Bukit Batok Nature Park, the AYE near Pandan Reservoir, and Commonwealth Avenue West near Buona Vista MRT station.

I can see the last stretch of path next to Pandan Gardens that goes towards Pandan Reservoir, and another stretch of path next to the International Business Park that goes towards Bukit Batok. However, they are not 'connected' to the path I was on, separated by the AYE and Pandan River.

So was I cycling in a park or a connector? If it was a park, where is the connector that connects the other two 'parks'? If it was a connector, which parks is it supposed to connect? Pandan Reservoir and Bukit Batok Nature Park?

Park connectors have been around for some time, but jogging and cycling paths remain isolated. My neighbour who works in the International Business Park told me it would take him five minutes to cycle to work if the paths were connected. Instead, he has to drive or take public transport, which takes him 15 to 30 minutes and adds to traffic congestion.

I look forward to when park connectors truly connect, even if it means underground tunnels or wheelchair-friendly bridges, as this will help the environment, our health, traffic and economy in the long run.

If there are no plans to connect all these paths, call them what they really are: jogging or cycling paths."

Two lists by 'cycle to work' regulars

"Things I Learned Riding Every Day to Work for a Year in Singapore," by Lee Kin Mun., 28 May 2008.

"Notes from my 10 over years riding in Singapore," by Dennis Cheong. Back to Our Original Nature, 31 May 2008.