Changi-Simei and Bedok join ranks of cycling towns

Bike paths will connect to amenities like MRT stations and schools
Maria Almenoar Straits Times 16 Jul 10;

TWO new towns have been earmarked to get cycling paths, bicycle racks and parking spaces in a national drive to promote cycling as a cheaper, healthier and greener form of transport.

Residents of Changi-Simei and Bedok will have 2m-wide paths connecting them to amenities such as MRT stations, schools, markets and the existing Park Connector Network linking the parks across the island.

The paths will be complemented by bike racks and spaces at bus and MRT stations, thus encouraging the use of public transport.

The two towns join five others - Yishun, Tampines, Pasir Ris, Sembawang and Taman Jurong - in a project that will draw on a $43 million fund set up to build infrastructure in designated cycling towns.

Construction, already begun on 30.4km of paths in these five towns, will be completed by the second half of 2012.

The new downtown of Marina Bay, still a work-in-progress, will also have a network of cycling paths by 2014; $26 million has been set aside for this.

These moves, announced yesterday, come as cycling enjoys a surge in popularity, both as a form of commuting and a way of getting exercise.

But fans of self-powered two-wheelers who have taken to the roads have rubbed some motorists the wrong way: In the debate in this newspaper and elsewhere, motorists question whether cyclists have equal rights on the roads, especially since they pay neither road-pricing charges nor road tax, hog lanes and disregard traffic rules.

Cyclists, firing back, have accused motorists of dangerous, discourteous driving. Some said they have been bullied into riding on pavements, a move which has put them on a collision course with pedestrians, who feel they should be king there.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Teo Ser Luck, announcing the initiatives yesterday, said the focus now is on 'intra-town' cycling, although it would be a cyclist's dream to have the entire island connected by cycling paths.

That would will be looked into, he said, but will not be a reality any time soon.

In any case, grassroots leaders and residents have noted that cyclists in the heartlands seldom ride more than 5km from their homes.

Cycling paths will help keep down the number of accidents involving cyclists on roads. Last year, 17 cyclists and pillion riders died on the road. The year before, 22 did.

These paths will also separate cyclists from pedestrians and thus keep both groups safe as they take in a spot of exercise or make their way to the supermarket, the MRT station or to school.

Pedestrians and cyclists also occupy separate paths in cities such as Copenhagen in Denmark and Nagoya in Japan.

Mr Teo, an avid cyclist himself, said: 'Cycling is a more environmentally friendly, cost-effective and healthier mode of transport. It's a mode that we would like to promote.'

More towns will be identified as cycling towns under the National Cycling Plan, provided they are compact and have enough cyclists, he said.

Housewife Shirley Teo, 56, who lives in Simei, said she will use her son's bicycle once the paths in her town are ready.

She said: 'Cycling on the road is scary. It'll be more convenient when I go to Eastpoint to buy groceries. I won't need to carry the bags from the bus stop to my home. I can ride all the way to my block.'

Tampines, the first town to have paths shared by cyclists and pedestrians, had a bumpy start to the initiative, with pedestrians complaining that cyclists were reckless, dangerous and did not give way.

Mr Teo said the number of complaints have since tailed off, with cycling wardens and auxiliary police on duty and talks being held to teach cyclists proper etiquette, such as giving way to pedestrians and using proper hand signals.

Mr Steven Yeo, who heads Tampines GRC's community safety and security programmes, said: 'We won over the hearts of the pedestrians and taught cyclists what to do. We proved that cycling in the neighbourhoods is something workable.'

Marina Bay to be showcase cycling town
Straits Times 16 Jul 10;

MARINA Bay will be criss-crossed by a 16km network of cycling paths by 2014, becoming the first area in the city with such a facility.

When completed, residents and office workers in the area will be able to cycle on bike-dedicated stretches linking the Marina Bay Financial District, Marina Bay Sands integrated resort, Marina Barrage and the future Gardens by the Bay.

A $26 million fund has been set aside for the construction works, which will begin this year.

Marina Bay will also be a showcase of how cycling paths can be developed along with a neighbourhood.

The Transport Ministry said the area was chosen because it is not yet fully built-up, making it easier to install infrastructure and plan the pathways.

On the other hand, areas like Shenton Way and Orchard Road, already built up, are more difficult to retrofit with cycling paths.

Mr Dennis Chong, a sales executive at The Bike Boutique, believes the paths will be popular with expatriates and the young locals who make up the bulk of the shop's customers.

The Bike Boutique offers cyclists who work in the Central Business District a place to shower and to store their bicycles during the work day.

'Having rules on the paths so there's a level of etiquette between cyclists will be important,' he said, adding that the cycling paths were a way to encourage more people to cycle.

Avid cyclist Tay Choon Wei disagrees.

The paths will go some way to promote cycling, said the 32-year-old, but pointed out that the benefits were limited because it would be impossible to connect the whole island with cycling paths.

Ultimately, people need to find a way to get to a cycling path and the only way to it will be by a road, he said.

'Cycling paths further segregate cyclists from the rest of the vehicles on the road and will reinforce motorists' mindset that we don't belong on the roads,' said the cyclist who bikes from his home in Thomson Road to Shenton Way.

'Cycling paths are a bonus, but if motorists just treat us better, we wouldn't even need paths to begin with,' he said.


The two-wheeler push
New cycling towns, paths to come; safety issues to be tackled
Leong Wee Keat Today Online 16 Jul 10;

SINGAPORE - By the end of next year, cyclists could ride around the Marina Bay area, say, from One Raffles Quay, along Marina Bay Sands, to Marina Centre.

This route is part of an extensive network of cycling paths the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will roll out in the area, which will see 16 kilometres of dedicated tracks by 2014.

Then, the towns of Changi-Simei and Bedok will join five others - Yishun, Tampines, Taman Jurong, Pasir Ris and Sembawang - with dedicated cycling paths linking transport nodes and key local amenities. Works in these five cycling towns are expected to be completed by 2012, and the first 1.2km stretch in Tampines will open on Sunday.

These initiatives, Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Transport) Teo Ser Luck said yesterday, mark a "milestone for cycling" here as it is accepted as a "more environmentally friendly, cost-effective and healthier" intra-town transport mode.

The seven cycling towns were chosen because they have strong support for cycling and have land available for such tracks.

For Marina Bay, Mr Teo said the area is in the "beginning stage of development", which makes it the "best time to start planning" for cycling tracks before other land use considerations kick into gear.

"If you look at Shenton Way or Orchard Road, you look at the space we have, it's not going to be easy (building cycling paths). Nevertheless, it may evolve. We have to look at it, and it takes a longer time to plan in these areas due to the land and space constraints," he added.

Work in Marina Bay will begin this year, and Mr Teo said "an integrated approach" is needed to make cycling a travel mode. Besides building the tracks, the authorities are looking at ensuring sufficient amenities for both the bicycle and the cyclist, such as parking facilities and shower rooms. A sum of $26 million has been set aside for the Marina Bay cycling initiative.

When asked about the cost-benefit analysis, the Ministry of Transport's Permanent Secretary Choi Shing Kwok said the initiative is "a long-term investment", similar to the ministry's approach toward building roads that last for "80, 100 years". He added: "On a long-term basis, it's not really that expensive. It's pretty comparable with sidewalks for pedestrians."

Mr Teo also said the cycling paths are not built "for just two, three years", and the authorities will monitor their use as the Marina Bay area develops.

While building the infrastructure is the "easier part", the authorities felt that getting mutual accommodation among stakeholders such as pedestrians and cyclists present a "more difficult job".

They have identified safety, indiscriminate parking and encroachment of pedestrian sidewalks as issues that need to be addressed in the push toward cycling.

In Tampines, for example, cycling clinics have been conducted to educate residents on safe practices, such as basic hand signals and how to check their bikes' tyre pressure. The Safe Cycling Task Force volunteer group has conducted talks at workplaces and dormitories to promote safe cycling among foreign workers.

As for bicycles being parked indiscriminately and obstructing pedestrians, LTA prefers the educational approach - compared to enforcement - and it leaves notices cautioning owners against parking at wrong locations.

While Mr Teo urged cyclists to be considerate and park their bikes at designated racks and areas, he also warned: "If you park your bikes anywhere, it may also be isolated somewhere and be subjected to theft."

The success of cycling as a travel mode will depend on all road users, Mr Teo said.

"In many ways, this National Cycling Plan is, and will always be, a work-in-progress, as we'll adjust and take feedback from the local communities and stakeholders to refine our plans," he added.

Seven towns to have dedicated cycling paths by 2014
Dylan Loh Channel NewsAsia 15 Jul 10;

SINGAPORE: The government pedals forward with plans to get more people on two wheels.

By 2014, Changi-Simei and Bedok will have dedicated cycling lanes.

This will bring to seven the number of estates where the government aims to promote intra-town biking to transport nodes like MRT stations.

The other towns, announced in February 2009, are Yishun, Tampines, Sembawang, Taman Jurong and Pasir Ris. The tracks in these towns will be completed by 2012.

In total, S$43 million will be spent for such dedicated cycling paths in the seven towns.

Besides the heartlands, the Marina Bay area will also see more biking action.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has been working closely with the Urban Redevelopment Authority and National Parks Board to implement a network of cycling paths in the area. S$26 million has been set aside for the project.

Work on these bicycle paths will begin this year and by 2014, cyclists can look forward to 16 kilometres of dedicated bicycle lanes in the Marina Bay area.

Meantime, construction of dedicated cycling paths in Tampines and Yishun has started. The first 1.2-kilometre stretch in Tampines will open for use this Sunday.

Dedicated bicycle lanes are hugely popular in European cities like Salzburg, Berlin and especially Amsterdam, where the bikes outnumber people by almost half. That's how much they love their two wheels.

So the big question is: Can a similar cycling culture catch on in Singapore?

"I suppose so, because like now, cars are giving off too much greenhouse gas emissions," said a member of the public.

"It's not just a form of transport but it also builds up your physical fitness. So I would go for cycling," said another.

"No, because people might get in the way when I cycle and it's quite troublesome," said a third.

Initiatives like safety talks and cycling clinics will be used to tell the public about responsible cycling.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Teo Ser Luck said: "We want to make sure that they are educated in terms of some of the behaviours when they're cycling and making sure they recognise the different signs."

In addition, more resources will also be put into developing bicycle parking facilities at key transport hubs.

- CNA/al/ir

Safe cycling clinic for foreign workers in Singapore
Mustafa Shafawi Channel NewsAsia 16 Jul 10;

SINGAPORE: Over 20 foreign workers have been issued warnings for breaking the cycling by-laws of the Tampines estate where pedestrians and cyclists share pathways, since they were implemented in March this year, according to North East CDC.

The number represents about 20 per cent of the 105 people who were issued warnings in the estate.

Last year, foreign workers made up one third of cyclist fatalities in Singapore.

To help educate them cycle safely, a safe cycling clinic will be conducted at a foreign worker dormitory in Tampines Friday.

The North East CDC is working with the dormitory manager, Averic Capital Management on the initiative, which will involve some 500 foreign workers.

Two bicycle shops have also been roped in for the scheme.

They'll provide discounts vouchers to foreign workers who have participated in the clinic to purchase safe cycling gear.

- CNA/jm