Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rent and return bicycles between Changi and ECP

Six new bicycle kiosks have opened along the Eastern Coastal Park Connector Network. These allow the rental and return of bicycles at any of the six kiosks, so a weak cyclist who has made his first enjoyable ride to East Coast Park does not have to dread the 8km ride back to Changi to return the bicycle - he just needs to return it to the relevant kiosk in ECP.

Of the entire PCN, it is the Changi Beach Park to East Coast Park stretch which I recommend to friends out to get a taste of cycling in Singapore. The scenery is nice and the route is very safe with only three junction crossings. The inland parts of the PCN are less hospitable so is best explored later when their cycling skills have improved and they want to explore. Rental rates are $5/hour.

Pity there is no Pasir Ris Park station though. The stations are at:

  • Sun Plaza Park (Tampines)

  • Changi Beach Park Area Car Park 1,

  • Changi Beach Park Car Park 7

  • East Coast Park Area G

  • East Coast Park Area C,

  • Telok Kurau Park

    "No need to backtrack to return rental bike," by Maria Almenoar. The Straits Times, 10 March 2009.

    A NEW spin on recreational cycling has hit the four connected parks on the East Coast.
    Six new bicycle rental kiosks strung out along the bike paths now allow cyclists to pick up and drop off their rented wheels at any of these pit stops.

    Bye bye to the need to backtrack to the kiosk from which the bicycle was rented, as is the required practice with bike rental stations now.

    The National Parks Board (NParks) awarded the tender to run the new service to Lifestyle Recreation, a company which has been renting out bicycles and in-line skates at the East Coast Park since 2001.

    Its kiosks can be found at East Coast Park Area C, East Coast Park Area G, Changi Beach Park Area Car Park 1, Sun Plaza Park, Changi Beach Park Car Park 7 and Telok Kurau Park. Two more may be set up in the Bedok and Pasir Ris town parks.

    Rental rates are comparable to other rental outlets in the area - $5 an hour for a bike and $10 an hour for a tandem bicycle. A cyclist needs to produce his or her identity card to rent a bike.

    Lifestyle Recreation is also looking into providing an all-day service in which a cyclist picks up a bike and can return it even after the rental stations have closed for the day.

    A cyclist who plans on returning the bike late first books and pays for the rental online. A bicycle number and code to the bicycle lock is then sent to him in a text message.

    Ms Susanna Tay, Lifestyle Recreation's managing director, said: 'When NParks opened the new park connectors, we knew that cyclists did not want to be restricted on where they could ride, so this is a value-added service we can provide.'

    She added that the company may allow the same rental arrangement for in-line skates if there is a demand.

    Photographer Alex Wee, 35, who heads to East Coast Park every two months for cycling, is now game to explore the East Coast's four parks.

    He said: 'Usually you don't get to cycle far and see much because you have to backtrack to return the bicycle. They should consider having a public transport link at either end as well.'

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bicycles on pavements: Does it work in Japan?

Sidewalk cycling in Tokyo

Singapore is getting closer to a decision about legalising bicycle use on footways, at least in Tampines.

So I was pleased to stumble on a relevant paper. It focuses on Japan's experience. Since 1978 Japan has been the only major country to allow bicycle riding on most footway pavements. Scroll down for the author's conclusion.

Evaluation of shared use of bicycles and pedestrians in Japan

Author(s): P. Zhe, H. Yamanaka & K. Kakihara

Shared use of bicycles and pedestrians on sidewalks can be commonly seen all over Japan.

Cycling on sidewalks in Japan was permitted from 1978 following deregulation of the Road Traffic Law, which was urgent treatment to secure cyclists’ safety due to a lack of road space.

This was permitted on sidewalks with appropriate width and traffic conditions.

Although bicycles are still regarded as a vehicle and cyclists have to use the carriageway along with motor vehicles according to the Road Traffic Law, many bicycle users prefer to use sidewalks.

Cycle/pedestrian shared use would surely be disadvantageous related to the safety and amenity of pedestrians, and to the reduction of cycling speed.

Shared use with pedestrians, however, has advantages of safety and freedom for utility cyclists, which seems to be related to the fact that Japan has a high level of the modal share of bicycles used for going shopping or to school.

In addition, the number of women or aged users tends to be high compared with major motorized countries.

The aim of this study is to evaluate the level-of-service of shared use by pedestrians and bicycles, from the viewpoints of users’ safety and comfort considering traffic volume in shared use space.

By using a video survey of shared use streets, the authors analyzed the relationship between cycling speed, frequency of hindrance and traffic density or traffic volume of street users.

In conclusion, the author proposes the conditions necessary to apply shared use of bicycles and pedestrians on the sidewalks, considering the traffic flow of pedestrians and bicycles per width of sidewalks Keywords:
bicycle, shared use, level-of-service, Japan.

Pages: 10
Size: 1,017 kb
And here is their conclusion:
"The authors analysed hindrance behaviour by considering traffic volume per sidewalk width of pedestrians and bicycles, and proposed the minimum level of traffic conditions needed to apply shared use of bicycles and pedestrians on the sidewalks. As a result the necessary condition to coexistence of bicycles and pedestrians was found to be less than 0.5 pedestrians/minute/m and less than 3.0cyclists/minute・m. The standard for pedestrian/bicycle share use in terms of hourly traffic volume is less than 26 pedestrians / hour and 108 cyclists / hour for 2m wide sidewalks.

In future studies we aim to look at development of education or information methods (signs, road marking, colouring, etc.) on the street for bicycles and pedestrians to ensure the safety and comfort shared use for utility cyclists."

My take on what this means for Singapore? If we do legalise pavement cycling, we should also make an effort to provide attractive detours for bicycle users to avoid busy sections of walkway OR dramatically widen the effective width of the pavement at busy sections.

The paper pdf is free to download but you need to register first.