Thursday, March 16, 2006

Low stress route makes for a joyful bike ride

Joyful? By bicycle? In Singapore? On the roads?? Yes! Let me explain.

My daily ride to work has become a joy since I found a low stress route to take. It takes me mostly along quiet streets. These stretches are linked up by some short off-road short cuts (and a few short stretches of busy roads). Riding to work is now a real pleasure.

The 'short cuts' involve places where I need to dismount to deal with a few steps or clamber up or down a slope. Maybe that sounds annoying but IMHO these inconveniences are a small price to pay to help me avoid the heavy traffic, lorries, noise and fumes of the main alternative route, which includes Alexandra and Pasir Panjang Roads.

You might think all the hassles with short cuts would take more time. But no! The low stress route takes me less than 25 minutes door to door (about 5 or 6 kms). The main road route is shorter and flatter but takes 25 minutes as well, mainly because it has more traffic lights to wait at.

Below I will give details of the route. But first I want to explain why I am sharing this. Why should you be interested in this route if you live nowhere near it?

One reason is to make the point that riding in Singapore is NOT always unpleasant and dangerous. My daily commuting ride is mostly very pleasant, relatively safe and leaves me feeling calm and happy.

Another reason for sharing this is that I hope to encourage you (Singapore cyclists) to share your own useful short cuts. I have often wished for a map of 'secret' ways to avoid dangerous stretches of road when I am out cycling in unfamiliar territory. So much so that I once started to make my own such maps. I might try again if enough people share their short cuts and low-stress bicycle routes! And, at risk of getting carried away with enthusiasm, if we can find and map enough safe routes all over the island, maybe we can persuade the LTA, URA and NParks to improve and protect them and one day link them up into a national bicycle network. Why not?

My route to work
Here is a brief summary of the route. Just the basic facts so you could find it if you wanted to.

  • Depot Rd (traffic not too bad usually) turn right (north) into Alexandra Rd (very busy - but on it for a just short stretch)
  • turn left (west and up the only serious hill of the trip) into York Rd (in quiet leafy Alexandra Park) (map)
  • turn right into Canterbury
  • then left into Russels (becomes Winchester)
  • then right into small blocked road before Tennis Courts (map)
  • left onto grass at the end, dismount, carry bicycles and clamber carefully down steep slope towards AYE. Cross drain - be careful not to fall in! (this bit may put some people off)
  • left along 'goat track' that has been worn by pedestrians and bicycles running along AYE (on the safe side of the crash barrier)
  • join the Normanton exit from AYE
  • at far side of junction dismount and climb steps into Science Park I (at the back of Cintech III) (map)
  • turn right into Science Park Drive (some traffic but usually low speed)
  • turn left into South Buona Vista (and be careful of the pinch point right near the junction at the star on this map and be wary of the heavy traffic here at peak times)
  • continue south along the windy road (by the way, if you instead turn right immediately here you can enter NUS and either ride along the ridge to the Central Library or head down to the Business School past the PGP student accommodation)
  • until the first bus stop (you will see a sheltered bus stop on the right for SBS route 200). Cross road (carefully!) and carry bicycle down the stairs into Science Park II (The Gemini) (map)
  • turn right into Science Park Rd (down hill - the only serious hill of return trip)
  • This takes you to Pasir Panjang Rd, although I turn right again before the Capricorn building to go up to Heng Mui Keng Terrace and my office

The reverse route is more or less the same, but with slightly more inconvenience (walking bike on footpaths in two places for a short stretch rather than ride the wrong way against traffic - which is very very dangerous!).

Please email details of your favourite LOW-STRESS routes and short cuts to sppbpa at nus dot edu dot sg. Please give enough detail so we can find them. I and other friends of 'Cycling in Singapore' blog will try to check them out and then hopefully share them via this blog sometime.

In coming months I will also share some other low stress routes and useful short-cuts that I have found.


Unknown said...

Thanks for the initiative! I'd post, but I currently take the *most* stressful route to school - straight down Commonwealth and down North Buona Vista! I'll look up the sideroads you mention - maybe that'll motivate me to cycle more ...

Anonymous said...

Dear Paul, thanks A LOT for your track! I was trying to get to Nromanton park and couldnt find the link you described. Today after work (Biopolis), I went to Keppel Marina in 20 min - perfect trail thanks so much. It is also a perfect trail to go to Sentosa from the Buona Vista side!

One yet wonders: by which way can we make the authorities install at least some basic little improovements, like in the case of this frequented route a propper track and a ovrpass so noone falls into the drain? It would cost little and make a big difference, in relation to the multi-million dollar bridge it is negiable...

Similarly: they revamop now Rochester Park to be a food-lifestyle hub, which i like becasue I live in Dover Rise. However, the connection Dover Rise-Rochester has a 10 min gap, since I am an able biker I can make it but most people dont, it is a wild track! One could fix it for a few 100 buks...

Any ideas? Is "Meet you MP? an option? Should we start a green party.. just jocking..

Cheers, Hannes