I was sharing my experience of promoting the use of folding bike at work. One of my expat colleague share with me his perspective of cycling in Singapore.
I don't agree with everything he said, but some of his views based on his experience in Japan, Holland and now Singapore is indeed refreshing:
"I was reflecting on cultures that have higher usage of cycles and ahead of Singapore in the affluence wave – Japan and Holland (China is losing its cycling culture in its burgeoning affluence). On the weather I think there are different conditions for cycling for fun and cycling for transport. Whilst Singapore might be more suited to casual cycling it’s less suited to transport cycling as you would need to shower at your destination to be appropriate. Whilst there are a number of weather factors in Singapore that generally appear more welcoming to cycling it would seem that the self-consciousness of Singaporeans is likely not to change any time soon. Also the city’s lack of flexibility toward community changes and thus any change in the number of cyclists is unlikely to change the design of urban corridors and public transport infrastructure in favour of cycles whilst there is a substantial government reliance on oil-based taxes and investment in said industry infrastructure. Something about Japan and Holland is that cycles are accommodated at all manner of destinations and by dedicated paths/lanes or under law (in Japan cyclists have right of way on larger vehicles). Whilst the two cultures have a very different attitude to theft that doesn’t impede on the viability of such transport.
Also the very real lack of care shown by Singaporean drivers and bystanders means that the cost of accident or collision is far greater than one would experience elsewhere. When I have seen cyclists hit in Australia and Japan, people rush to their aid, here people stand by and watch. Also if you’re lucky enough to end up at hospital the first thing you meet is a cashier not a nurse. I’m only beginning to understand this but Singapore’s cultural selfishness in both self-preservation and self-defense means there are a number of industries and pastimes like cycling that have a slim adoption.
I think that the folding option is a decent workaround for the lack of affordance offered to cyclists in Singapore yet it’s not a mass adoption candidate. If say even 10% of people were to take up such a cycle then there would be a noticeable negative difference in the space on the train and whilst shopping in malls.
I’m not trying to be a sour sport but if there was any country in the world that could make an concerted push toward everyone cycling and also switching the entire country to electric vehicles it would be Singapore but it seems that people’s desire for money and status here is too strong for that to change in the short term.
Ok that’s my take at the moment, it might change with time but I do think it’s pretty cool that you’ve got such a tight and viable business happening. I hope it grows too because we need more people exercising!"
Well, wouldn't it be wonderful that the folding bike creates a congestion problem in the MRT?