Bukit Timah trail always been for cyclists only

Straits Times 26 Aug 13;

WE REFER to Mr Ng Eng Juan's letter ("Don't exclude hikers from Bukit Timah reserve trail"; last Monday).

Opened in 1997, the Bukit Timah mountain biking trail has always been designated for cyclists. We are currently upgrading the trail to improve rider safety and experience as it has suffered erosion over the years.

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and abutting areas like Kampong Chantek, Dairy Farm Nature Park and Singapore Quarry have trails for hikers to use.

We seek Mr Ng's understanding that the Bukit Timah mountain biking trail will continue to be designated for cyclists when the upgrading works are completed, for the safety of riders and other users of the nature reserve.

Wong Tuan Wah
Director, Conservation
National Parks Board

Why hikers should not share bike trail
Straits Times 26 Aug 13;

MR NG Eng Juan laments that a trail being upgraded at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve will thereafter be closed to hikers, and reserved for the exclusive use of cyclists ("Don't exclude hikers from Bukit Timah reserve trail"; last Monday).

The trail which Mr Ng is referring to is indeed a mountain biking-only trail, and has been so for a long time.

There are clear signs at all its entry points advising this.

The revamp of the trail has nothing to do with its closure to hikers and other recreational users.

As we understand, the ongoing works are aimed at preventing trail degradation and soil erosion, issues which have affected the mountain biking trail for a while.

We believe that trail sharing as advocated by Mr Ng can be explored as it will allow mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners, nature photographers and other recreational users to maximise the use of nature trails in land scarce Singapore.

However, issues such as safety, potential user conflicts, right of way and so on need to be worked out and this will ensure that everyone enjoys using the limited trails we have.

In our assessment, the Bukit Timah mountain bike trail is not a good candidate for trail sharing for the following reasons:

Most sections are of single-track width, which allow for only one party to pass; this means that the other party has to give way and wait;
It has many dangerous blind corners;
There are "technically challenging" sections (rocky and steep drop-offs, for example) where accidents between a mountain biker and a hiker can happen;
It is not easy for a mountain biker travelling at a higher speed to anticipate the movement (or intention) of a hiker in his path.

There are only a few trails designated for mountain biking in Singapore, while there are many other trails for hikers and runners.

It may interest Mr Ng to know that the lovely MacRitchie trails, as well as many other nature trails around the island, are open to all recreational users except mountain bikers.

Calvin Chin
Mountain Bike Association (Singapore)

Don't exclude hikers from Bukit Timah reserve trail
Straits Times Forum 19 Aug 13;

THE National Parks Board (NParks) is in the process of upgrading the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve trail surrounding the foot of Bukit Timah Hill.

But it has been announced that once the work is done, the trail will be for the exclusive use of cyclists.

This is a pity because the trail can easily allow both cyclists and hikers to enjoy the scenic path.

Currently, both cyclists and hikers use the trail without any problems.

The hikers are mainly people in their 50s and 60s, who probably find climbing up the hill too much of a challenge.

If the trail is closed to them, these health-conscious folk would probably have to stop their hikes.

A large portion of the 5km-long trail is about 2m wide, which can easily accommodate both a cyclist and a hiker at the same time.

If the possibility of collision is a concern, signs may be put up to ask hikers to use one side of the trail, and cyclists to use the other side.

For those portions of the trail that are narrower, parallel paths can easily be built so that hikers can use one path, and cyclists the other.

Alternatively, the use of the trail can be time-managed.

For example, it can be opened to cyclists from, say, 7am to 10am, and to hikers from 10am to 1pm, and then to cyclists again from 1pm to 4pm, and to hikers from 4pm to 7pm.

Having spent so much time, effort and money in upgrading the trail, NParks should aim to increase, not decrease, the number of users.

Ng Eng Juan