Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Media on OCBC Cycle Singapore's Safe Cycling Campaign, 18 Dec 2010

OCBC Cycle Singapore Safe Cycling Campaign


The OCBC Cycle Singapore Safe Cycling Campaign on 18 Dec 2010 [weblink, press release] received excellent coverage leading up to and after the event, with several articles in local media raising awareness and discussing the issue about sharing the roads. The articles are listed here chronologically.

  • "OCBC Cycle S'pore Launches Safety Campaign." The New Paper, 07 Dec 2010.
  • "How realistic is this safety rule?" By Chong Zi Liang. The Straits Times, 16 Dec 2010.
  • "Cyclists wish for safer rides," by David Lim. MyPaper, 17 Dec 2010.
  • "Safe cycling campaign launched," by S Ramesh. ChanelnewsAsia, 18 Dec 2010.
  • "Singapore Kicks Off Safe Cycling Campaign," by Danson Cheong. The New Paper, 21 Dec 2010.
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"OCBC Cycle S'pore Launches Safety Campaign." The New Paper, 07 Dec 2010.

A NEW campaign to promote safe cycling was launched on Monday.

Called the OCBC Cycle Singapore Safe Cycling Campaign, it aims to raise awareness of the need for both cyclists and motorists to respect each other.

Its motto? "1.5m matters. Share the road", aims to send the message to cyclists and motorists to stay 1.5m from one another.

You can get one of the 50,000 car decals which will be given out to motorists who refuel at Caltex stations.

If you are spotted with the decal on your vehicle from now to Dec 18, your registration plate will be recorded and entered into a lucky draw on Dec 20.

20 winners

You could be one of 20 winners who will get $200 worth of Caltex vouchers.The results of the lucky draw will be posted on the OCBC Cycle Singapore website (www.ocbc.cyclesingapore.com.sg) and the Radio 91.3 website (www.radio913.com).

Dec 18 has also been dedicated as Safe Cycling Day and 2,000 cycling jerseys will be distributed, mainly at the Longhouse hawker centre along Upper Thomson Road, that morning.

The organisers hope most of the people who get the jerseys will wear them when cycling on that day. The campaign was launched by OCBC Bank and Spectrum Worldwide, an events and marketing company.

Mr Chris Robb, Spectrum's managing director, said: "Cycling has grown tremendously in Singapore over the past few years and we are seeing more cyclists on our road than ever before.

"As the organiser of the biggest mass participation cycling event on closed roads here, we feel it is our responsibility to promote the safe cycling message."

The third annual OCBC Cycle Singapore event will take place from March 4 to 6 next year, and will feature a professional night race for the first time.
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"How realistic is this safety rule?" By Chong Zi Liang. The Straits Times, 16 Dec 2010.

AS AN avid cyclist who rides 20km to and from work on his foldable bike every day, Mr Bryan Teo has had his fair share of close brushes with fellow road users. 'Sometimes, the cars come so close just to send a message that you have no place on the road,' said the 35-year-old store manager of a Starbucks coffee outlet in Raffles Place.

Not only are cyclists entitled to use the roads, but the handbook for the driving final theory test also states that motorists should give 1.5m of space when passing bicycles - something most motorists do not do after collecting their licences.

But motorists say they already try to give cyclists as wide a berth as road conditions allow, and it is simply impossible to adhere to the 1.5m distance in heavy traffic.

'How do we keep that distance if there are other cars in the second lane? All we can do is slow down while passing the cyclist,' said Mr Kong Yew On, 51, a construction contractor who drives frequently in his job.

The Singapore Road Safety Council (SRSC) shared this view. Its chairman, Mr Bernard Tay, pointed out that since the leftmost traffic lane cyclists use is about 3.7m wide, keeping a 1.5m distance will require the motorist to encroach partly into the adjacent traffic lane. This is not possible when all lanes are used in heavy traffic.

'SRSC urges motorists to accept that the cyclists also have a right to use the road and to always keep a reasonable, safe passing distance, which the prevailing traffic conditions permit,' said Mr Tay, who is also president of the Automobile Association of Singapore.

Even so, an ongoing OCBC Cycle Singapore Safe Cycling Campaign, launched on Nov 29, is trying to drive home the message with the tagline: '1.5m matters. Share the road.'

Through car decals and cycling jerseys bearing the campaign slogan, as well as radio contests, the campaign hopes to encourage drivers to keep a safe distance from cyclists.

This is the first time that OCBC Cycle Singapore - the largest mass cycling event here - has organised a safe cycling campaign. The event is into its third year and will take place in March next year.

Seven cyclists were killed in the first five months of this year - up from three in the same period in 2009. In the whole of last year, 17 cyclists involved in accidents were killed, compared with 22 in 2008.

Cyclists like Ms Angeline Tan, 32, acknowledge the 1.5m distance is more of a guideline than a hard and fast rule. Still, she believes the campaign has value because it will raise awareness that cyclists, too, belong on the road. The documentary content researcher cycles about three times a week in a group of about 10 before dawn to avoid traffic.

Cyclists have mooted the idea of having bike lanes on the roads in the past, but this was rejected by the Land Transport Authority, citing space constraints. Instead, cycling lanes are increasingly being built next to footpaths.

With cycling gaining popularity both as a form of exercise and transport, cyclists say both drivers and cyclists need to be more accommodating.

And though cyclists have horror stories of belligerent drivers, they admit that they have seen cyclists who give them a bad name by riding without a helmet, beating red lights and even riding against the flow of traffic.

But Member of Parliament Teo Ser Luck, a biking enthusiast himself, pointed out that cyclists always bear the brunt of accidents no matter whose fault it is. So motorists should make the effort to give cyclists a safe riding environment, he said.

'A light bump on a car will just cause a dent, but a light bump on a cyclist can send him flying and that will either be fatal or cause serious injuries,' said the MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.

ziliang@sph.com.sg
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"Cyclists wish for safer rides," by David Lim. MyPaper, 17 Dec 2010.

CYCLISTS here find it hard to enjoy their sport because of long-standing concerns over road safety.

Some, like bank dealer and cycling enthusiast Pang Meng Yam, told my paper yesterday that he has to cycle either late at night or in the wee hours, when there are fewer vehicles on the road

Even so, he has had close shaves with drivers. "I've encountered people who drove up close and tried to scare me while I was cycling," he said.

That is why he is wary of taking his two children - Crystal, 10, and Maximus, eight - out for long rides on roads.

Instead, he and his wife, Carol, take them to parks with cycling routes, even though these can be too short for fun rides.

"If there are better safety measures, we would take the kids for rides on the road and enjoy the scenery in places like Lim Chu Kang," said Mr Pang.

He would be pleased, then, to learn that OCBC Cycle Singapore will be launching its new Safe Cycling Campaign ahead of the third edition of its mass-cycling event on March 4 to 6.

The campaign's tagline is "1.5m matters. Share the road", a reference to the distance motorists should keep between their vehicles and bicycles when they overtake cyclists on the road.

Tomorrow marks the campaign's "Safe Cycling Day", when cyclists are encouraged to gather for a mass ride starting from Longhouse hawker centre in Upper Thomson Road.

Mr Victor Yew, president of the Singapore Amateur Cycling Association, said: "We hope to raise awareness and educate all parties on the road. The 1.5m distance is basically a guideline, and the rest is up to drivers' discretion."

Cyclists here have proposed adding cycling lanes - such as those found in Melbourne, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Berlin - to roads. But the idea was rejected by the Land Transport Authority, citing space constraints.

Mr Pang agrees that there is not enough land here to accommodate cycling lanes, but suggested the setting up of shared lanes for public transport and cyclists on weekend nights, when cyclists face less risk of being hit by a vehicle.

Fellow cycling enthusiast Eugene Oh suffered abrasions and a broken rib earlier this year when he was hit by a car while cycling in a group.

The 36-year-old said: "It really depends on how much importance the authorities place on the issue. The only way for people to pay attention is to impose appropriate punishment."
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"Safe cycling campaign launched," by S Ramesh. ChanelnewsAsia, 18 Dec 2010.

SINGAPORE: More efforts are being made in Singapore to promote cycling in a safe environment.

This was conveyed through the OCBC Safe Cycling Campaign launched on Saturday, in which 9,000 cyclist will be taking part.

The key message of the campaign is "1.5M Matters. Share the Road".

Observing the safe distance of 1.5 metres from each other and obeying traffic rules would enable both cyclists and motorists to enjoy a safe journey on the roads.

The month-long campaign will see some 50,000 car decals and 2,000 cycling jerseys being distributed.

The campaign aims to raise the awareness of the need for both cyclists and motorists to respect each other and share the roads.

Organisers say safe cycling on public roads can be achieved as long as both parties play their part in observing traffic rules and keeping a safe distance from each other.

OCBC Safe Cycling Campaign organiser Chris Robb said people in other cities in the world overcome climate challenges of cycling.

"You hear stories about London where there are thousands of people cycling to work in (the) freezing cold; in snow, rain, and if they can do it those conditions, why can't we do it here in Singapore?

"Get to work half an hour early, have a shower cool down and go to work," he said.
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"Singapore Kicks Off Safe Cycling Campaign," by Danson Cheong. The New Paper, 21 Dec 2010.

MORE than 2,000 cyclists kicked off Singapore's first Safe Cycling Day at Longhouse Food Centre along Upper Thomson Road Saturday.

Longhouse is the de facto weekend meeting point for cyclists.

Safe Cycling Day is part of the OCBC Cycle Singapore Safe Cycling Campaign, which was launched on Nov 29 by the organisers of OCBC Cycle Singapore, the largest cycling event here.

Despite the ominous-looking sky, the organisers gave out a whopping 2,000 safe-cycling jerseys to cyclists who thronged the popular eating spot.

Cyclists donned the jerseys, bearing the campaign's tag line "1.5m matters. Share the road", before heading out for their rides.

According to driving theory handbooks, drivers have to give cyclists 1.5m of space when overtaking them.

The 1.5m rule made the news recently, when a report in The Straits Times last Thursday debated the practicality of giving cyclists such a wide berth in space-crunched Singapore.

Experts said the rule might not be applicable in all situations. To cyclists, however, the extra space can mean the difference between life and death.

Survivors

Ask Mr Jeffrey Ng, Mr Jason Yip or Mr David Ng.

Other than a love for bicycles, the three men have something else in common.

All three are survivors of traffic accidents which happened while they were cycling on the road.

Mr Yip, 23, was commuting to work in 2006 when he got side-swiped by a bus and Mr David Ng, 22, was hit from behind by a car in August while he was riding to meet his training group.

Mr Jeffrey Ng had his brush with death just recently.

The 57-year-old retiree was riding in a group at night along Loyang Avenue on Nov 28 when he was hit from behind.

Mr Ng recounted: "I had just turned left from a filter lane when a 10-foot lorry made a U-turn and hit me from behind."

According to him, both he and his bike were pinned under the lorry and dragged for about two metres.

He said: "When it happened, I grabbed a bar on the lorry's undercarriage and just held on for dear life. My friends thought I was finished."

Apart from a bad case of road rash and bike damages totalling about $5,000, Mr Ng emerged relatively unscathed, which was "miraculous", he said.


Many other cyclists weren't so lucky.
This year, seven local cyclists lost their lives in road accidents between January and May - the figure is more than double the three persons killed in the same period last year.

In total, 17 cyclists and their pillion riders were killed in road accidents last year. In 2008, the number was 22.

With more Singaporeans taking up road cycling as a sport and hobby, it is inevitable for the number to rise.

The trio, who have more than 10 years of cycling experience between them, were wearing helmets and had proper lights for visibility when the accidents happened.

The younger Mr Ng, an undergraduate, said: "Accidents can happen to any rider, regardless of how protected you are. That's why the 1.5m distance is so critical."

Mr Yip pointed out: "If the bus driver had given me just a little bit more space, I wouldn't have been flung off the bike."

During his accident, Mr Yip was thrown behind the bus on the left-most lane. His bicycle, worth $2,000, landed in a wreck on the centre lane.

While the trio said that both drivers and cyclists could be at fault during accidents, they pointed out that drivers in Singapore "do not know how to react with cyclists on the road".

Said Mr Yip: "Aside from a brief mention in theory handbooks, learner drivers don't learn hands-on skills about driving with cyclists.

"We need to implement some guidelines governing interaction between both parties."

The younger Mr Ng added: "A small percentage of drivers feel we shouldn't even be on the roads. We need to change that mindset."

To that end, the group agreed that the OCBC Safe Cycling Campaign was a step in the right direction.

However, they are sceptical of any lasting impact without concrete government support.

That said, cyclists themselves could start to foster a friendlier riding environment.

For starters, riders could start by obeying rules.

Cyclists, even the most disciplined among them, commonly beat traffic lights.

The older Mr Ng said: "Many of us like to ride fast and rush past the lights. But what's the rush? What's important is that you reach home safely."

The younger Mr Ng also suggested that cyclists should stay behind cars instead of weaving in and out of vehicles at traffic lights.

He said: "I'm a driver too, and I know drivers hate that."

Mr Yip, who collected a safe cycling jersey of his own Saturday, said: "If you want to gain the respect and change the attitudes of drivers, look at your behaviour first.

"Ride safely and obey traffic rules."

Yokota Fritz's Cyclelicious bike route application now works for Singapore

Yokota Fritz wrote to say his "bike route application now works for Singapore. The routing engine is from MapQuest, and cycleway data comes from OpenStreetMap project, so if there are mistakes or shortcomings, users can fix the map info directly and quickly."

Head over to try it out at cyclelicio.us/map and let us know what you think. I gave it a quick look for Holland Village to Changi Village and this is what it spat out; I like the elevantion and biccle relevant directions and timing. Google Maps' bicycle option choked on this.


MapQuest bike directions w/ Google Maps APIs

Friday, November 26, 2010

20101201 : next phase


To me, the coming December first will be the start of a new phase. I will be leaving my 21 years comfort zone in Philips and starting all on my own. It feels like jumping off a big ship and throwing myself (and family) into the open sea. This seems silly but not if you can see what I am seeing while cruising on the big ship. The vision I have is to help make bicycling an easier and better choice for many people. This vision connect to my belief that bicycle will be an important solution to many problems that we face in modern cities. Such belief is so strong that I lost motivation to continue with the same routine job. I find it necessary to follow my heart and do something more meaningful.

My close friends and family ask with great concern, “How are you going to sustain financially?” I have savings but certainly not enough to sustain for a long time-if we continue to spend without adjustment. The key question is how much is enough to live a happy, stress free life? I need to find that out, together with my wife and two sons. I am blessed and thankful that they are supportive in my decision.

Leaving the financial uncertainty aside, I am really looking forward to the “office hour free” days. I should be able to spend more time riding, blogging, teaching, designing, selling and promoting bicycles, or bicycle related activities. I should be able to apply what I have learnt throughout the 21 years working in Philips, in a new way. Knowing the advantages and limitations a big organization encounter, helps. Having years of experience of working and living in Holland and seeing first hand how bicycle can be a viable transport solution also helps. I learnt a lot from my Philips colleagues and they will continue to be my inspiration and resources.

The Singapore Government has allocated 43 million dollars to improve bicycle infrastructure in seven cycling towns. This is peanuts if compared to the multi-billion dollars road construction works for cars, yet it is a fundamental paradigm shift from the authority: from ignoring to recognition! The same trend is happening in advanced Asia cities like Hong Kong, Taipei and Shanghai. There is still a long way to go before bicycling become as safe and popular as in Holland. I can see there is a lot needs to be done and I am sure there are ways that I can contribute and also make a living from by helping shorten this transition period.

- Francis Chu AKA Chu Wa

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Foldies take centerstage this morning at TEDxNUS

Simon Siah talked about cycling and touring ("you get to stop to smell the flowers or check out the girls...") on his foldable bike and ended the session with a quick draw with "...his trusty fellow B riders, Uncle Steven, Derek, Hui Hui and Danny":


Video by Carlos Miranda

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Bicycle thieves get bolder" (Straits Times, 13 Oct 2010)

"Bicycle thieves get bolder, " by Amanda Tan. The Straits Times, 13 Oct 2010. They are climbing over gates to steal pricey bikes from homes.
"SOFTWARE engineer Josephine Koh woke up one morning to find three of her four bicycles missing from the porch of her semi-detached house in Telok Kurau.

They were worth more than $1,000 in total. There was no trace of the thief nor any sign of a break-in.

'They must have sneaked in from my neighbour's house. Their gate is usually not locked and the thieves could have climbed over the dividing wall and into our place,' said Madam Koh of the theft, which occurred last year.

Even as more people in Singapore get into the cycling and triathlon habit with bigger and better bicycles, bicycle thieves are getting bolder.

They are now zooming in on bicycles that can cost thousands of dollars. They no longer target bicycles left in the open but boldly enter private compounds to filch them.

Residents in the eastern part of Singapore seem to be particularly vulnerable. A spate of about 10 such cases in private estates there in the past two months has prompted the police to send out advisory letters to residents.

In the letters, sent out in the past two weeks, police say that the thieves have been gaining entry into homes by climbing over the gates and removing bicycles left unsecured on the porch.

In one case, two slim Chinese men, each about 1.62m tall, were spotted within the compound of a house, said the advisory. 'We believe the culprits are targeting expensive bicycles,' it added.

The police told The Straits Times yesterday that a 30-year-old man was caught last month after stealing a $7,000 bicycle from a house in Simei. He has since been charged.

Cycling has become more popular here, with dedicated cycling tracks in neighbourhoods such as Tampines. More people are also buying expensive bicycles - a high-end Cannondale model can cost $20,000 - for events such as triathlons.

Bicycle thefts have also increased sharply. Last year, 1,074 were stolen, up from 675 in 2008.

While the police assured residents in the east that they had stepped up patrols, they also advised home owners to keep their bicycles inside their houses and away from the view of passers-by. They could also lock their bicycles to fixed permanent structures and use strong locks.

Bicycle owners are also urged to make permanent identification marks on their bicycles and keep records like receipts and photographs.

A check at two private residential estates in Bedok yesterday showed that many home owners leave their shiny, expensive-looking bicycles on their front porches, with many left unsecured. A number of front gates were left wide open with no one in sight.

Some residents said they were taking more precautions with their bicycles after receiving the advisory.

Primary school teacher Chris De Souza, 62, said he used to leave his gate latched but unlocked. He has since started padlocking his gate.

He owns four bicycles that cost about $1,000 each, which he leaves in his backyard covered with a tarpaulin sheet.

Still, residents are not overly worried.

A 54-year-old housewife, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Baey, said: 'We'll just make sure we lock the gate but we will still leave the bicycles out here. It's quite safe here.'

Bicycle theft can be lucrative as such thefts are usually hard to trace, bicycle shop owners said. High-end bicycles sold second-hand can easily fetch $1,000 each, especially if they are in good condition and relatively new.

Bigger stores are usually wary of taking in second-hand bicycles as they cannot tell if they are stolen. But there are some tell-tale signs that suggest a bicycle was obtained dishonestly.

'Such people usually come in on the pretext that they are selling for someone else and will not have much knowledge about the bike or its value,' said Mr Walton Seah, owner of Attitude Bikes, which sells custom-made bicycles.

'I have encountered such people but I always say no. We just don't know where it came from.'"

tamanda@sph.com.sg
How to protect your bikeSome bicycle shop operators offer tips on how owners can protect their two-wheelers:
Choose the right place to park
Areas with high human traffic are more secure than quiet stairwells or under bridges, said Mr Gilbert Loo, 38, of bike shop Hup Leong Company. 'Thieves won't be so daring if there are people walking about, but if the bicycle is hidden away by the owner, it actually makes it easier for thieves to steal,' he added.

Use a secure bicycle lock
Bicycle locks can cost from a few dollars to nearly $100. Mr Francis Tay, 47, the owner of L&T Cycle, said he always recommends the Kryptonite brand of U-locks to customers because they are made from high-quality steel. 'It costs $60, but it's very hard and will hold up well against steel cutters,' he added.

Secure the bicycle frame and tyres
Bicycle wheels are easy to dismantle, so locking just one wheel and the frame may not be enough to deter a thief. The rear wheel of a bicycle should be locked to its frame with a chain or U-lock, and another chain should be used to secure the front wheel as well.
See also this previous post, "Is Kembangan bike theft central?" from Mar 2008.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Flip the script

"Ban cars from cities" sounds absurb but the more I think about it the more it makes perfect sense. If we "flip the script" and liken car-driving as a modern day addiction but only more damaging than cigarette smoking. It would be logical to expect cars to be banned from the public road based on the similar argument to ban smoking in public space.

This 40 years old speech is simply brilliant:



via Jz88.com

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Full day bus lanes good for cycling?

The Bike Commuting in SG blog pointed out recently that the all-day bus lanes are a boon for bicycle users:
Don't you like having your own quasi-private lanes 7.30 - 8pm in Singapore's most crowded and annoying roads?

What do you think?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The lack of bicycle lights on an early Sunday morning

As I cycled down past MacRitchie last Sunday morning, I was struck with the sight of a roadie who overtook us - she had neither lights nor reflectors.

Despite it being a weekend, there was still plenty of traffic at 7am. Lights and a colourful jersey are critical for road safety especially in the early morning light.

How brightly lit are you?

Bicycle lights? Lornie Road, Sunday morning

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Who should be liable in road crashes involving bicycles?

If a car and a bicycle collide who should be held mostly responsible for any damage or injuries?  Most people in Singapore will say, 'well it depends'.

But in the Netherlands, it will almost always be the motorist who is held primarily responsible, even if they broke no road rules. Does that seem crazy to you? Read on. 

In assessing compensation payments after road crashes, Singapore's approach is similar to that of the USA, the UK and many other Commonwealth countries. To be held primarily responsible for a crash, it generally has to be proven that you were negligent or in violation of the road rules.

Contrast this with how it works in the Netherlands!

Watch the video below about the Dutch approach to liability in road crashes.

The Netherlands uses a so-called 'strict liability' principle for such crashes. Much greater responsibility for avoiding collisions is placed on the larger, faster vehicles. Pedestrians or cyclists who are struck by a motor vehicle can claim for compensation from the motorists' insurance company without having to prove any negligence by the driver. So the onus is primarily on motorists to avoid crashing into cyclists or pedestrians. For the purpose of compensation claims, a motor vehicle driver in a collision with a bicycle will usually be held responsible (or mainly responsible) even if the cyclist made a mistake or behaved a little foolishly (up to a point of course). 





Does this seem fair to you? Would it change your attitudes as a driver? Would it change your behaviour as a cyclist?

Note that 'strict liability' places a duty of care on cyclists too - towards pedestrians! Did you see the text near the end? The same philosophy means that a cyclist will usually be held primarily responsible for not hitting someone on foot, even if the pedestrian did something stupid.

Are the bicycle-crazy Dutch the only ones to have such a strange policy? No! According to the video, many European countries have the same approach as the Dutch. And according to Tokyo by Bike a similar policy applies in Japan: 
In the event of an accident, when the enforcement of the law actually kicks in Japan attributes blame to the larger party. In a car against bicycle bout, the driver of the car is automatically at fault even if the cyclist was riding the wrong way down a one way street holding their umbrella while listening to their iPod. When a cyclist injures a pedestrian the cyclist is at fault, and the person deemed to be at fault covers the medical expenses of the other party.
Maybe Singapore should consider this too? 
By the way, the video is from a UK campaign pushing for a Strict Liability approach to be adopted there (for civil cases only). It is supported by the Environmental Law Foundation, Safer Streets Coalition, Play England and CTC

Hat tip Momentum magazine.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

How brightly lit are you? Tail lights and other stories

My friends and I in Zendogs try to ride safely and probably since I spend the most time in heavy traffic, I am the most concerned. My getup reflects this:

Bright, flashing lights - front and rear

Amongst other factors and some good luck, lights are a significant part of keeping safe in both day and night. I have always been willing to fork out cash for lights which help keep me safe. And I have been surprised when some cyclists are hesitant about doing likewise. I am puzzled when cyclists on expensive racers speed by on an early morning ride, just as poorly lit as the foreign worker on some ramshackle bicycle, who is always held up as the epitome of the unsafe cyclist.

The lack of demand for good lights by local cyclists has meant a limited range in neighbourhood bicycle shops. We used to travel to specific shops from word of mouth recommendations just to get a particular type of light. Eventually, more of us travelled overseas for work and internet purchasing became easier and good lights were no longer inaccessible.

I suspect with the greater effort at highlighting road safety advocacy in recent years (see this SSC booklet), there has been an improvement and more cyclists have geared up with lights. And with the greater demand, some local shops are stocking pretty good lights. An example can be seen in this recent discussion on rear lights in local cycling forum Togoparts.

My staple light for about a decade now has been a Planet Bike Blinky 3H Helmet Mounted Rear Light - we bought extra for most of my cycling kakis, the Zendogs, as a helmet-mounted light significantly improves a cyclists' visibility. Variously I have had a 4-LED Sigma Cuberider and a 5-LED Cateye TL-LD610, happily replaced by a friend when the previous one went kaput. Add to the mix fully charged batteries each time I emerge for a ride and I'm visible!

SIGMA SPORT® online - Bike Computer, Heart Rate Monitor, Lighting
Planet Bike Blinky 3H Helmet Mounted Rear Light - Mountain Equipment Co-op. Free Shipping Available
Cateye - Tl-ld610


I read with great interest that Sigma Cuberider now has a version II with five LEDs and 2 x AAA batteries instead of single size N battery. I have to get that!

Weak batteries can eliminate the effectiveness of your best lights, so my kakis and I will report on each others' roadworthiness, e.g. my comments here:

"Ladybug had her three rear lights on the way down to ECP last Sunday and she could be easily seen from far She had on a Planet Bike helmet rear light and that really great Sigma Cuberider with the odd-size N battery that was popular about four years ago plus *drum roll* a "no-brand" red flashing light on her back from a retired Citicab driver, courtesy of his daughter - Citicab apparently gave it to drivers in case of breakdowns and it's very bright!

In contrast, I could not see another rider who had just one weak light on her seat post. Guess she needed to change the batteries!"

A Zendogs conversation

On 20-21 Mach 2009, I chatted with my fellow cycling kakis about tail lights which I reproduce here for a quick impression on rear tail light options (US$ values link to the relevant Amazon Store pages). If you have recommendations, know of local shops selling such lights and local prices, do pitch in with comments - thanks!

Sivasothi wrote:
"I've been looking at bicycle tail lights and was thrown off by the lingo which prevents direct comparisons, candlelight, lumens and wattage.E.g. this Cateye chart uses candlepower.

Without any consideration for weight, battery life, battery type or cost, these top contenders emerged very quickly:

NiteRider Cherry Bomb
Great reviews, a new light on the market. US$25.
NiteRider Cherry Bomb

Planet Bike Blinky Super Flash
Also very popular and has a white version for the front - US$19.
Blinky Super Flash

Other contenders

Blackburn Mars 4.0
LED's: 1w Ultra Bright Red, 2 amber side. US$25.
Blackburn / 2009 / Mars 4.0

Marpac Foxfire
LED's: 26 "Super Bright", 360ยบ Illumination. US$25.
LEDSafetyLites.com - products

Chi wrote:

"Hi Siva,

The units measure different things (lm, W, and cd) and conversion between lm and cd is possible if you know the solid angle of radiation. Between lm and W, you can also convert but this may not be an entirely realistic conversion as it is based on one wavelength only and may be affected by other items such as efficiency and optical characteristics of the housing/lens.

Anyway, with lights, if they can give the units to you in cd (or mcd – thousandth of a candela), that would be sufficient. The one below is a good one. Guaranteed that you would be seen from far away as the leds are spaced out over several angles.

For lights with LEDs and units in Watts, anything more than ½ W to 1 W is bright enough. However, this unit just refers to the power required by the LED to generate the brightest possible output. Does not take into account the optics of the plastic housing or lens. So if your lens or housing is badly designed (or say scratched), that maximum brightness seen by an observer will be reduced accordingly.

In our riding conditions, after settling for the brightness of the light, I would also take a look at dispersion angle for visibility, environmental protection (IP rating or waterproofness), and battery life."

Sivasothi wrote:
"The angles on the Cateye TL-LD610 (3 x AAA) are why it is my sole tail light now (apart from the Planet Bike helmet-mounted rear light) - a wider view might be offered by the Nite Rider Cherry Bomb.

I have the Cateye strapped on to the left seat stay since the gear cable runs along the right. This light is thus viewable at a distance but only from left-approaching vehicles.

For rIght-approaching vehicles I am relying on reflection by my bright-coloured cycling jersey and ankle straps. Proximal alerts will otherwise come from the helmet light. So adding a below-saddle tail light angled to the right will help.

The other thing I am looking for is a small, white light for the helmet now. But that's another story."
Loh Tse-Lynn wrote:
"I have the Planet Bike 1/2 watt Super Flash and I love it. The flash pattern is very distinctive and draws attention. For a little one, it packs a powerful flash. The roads here (Wilmington, NC, USA) tend to be unlit and it gives me confidence to commute at night. Currently my front light is the Planet Bike Blaze 1 watt. Good stuff."
Sivasothi wrote:
"Planet Bike supports bicycle advocacy and their lights were good, so our lights were all Planet Bike when Ladybug got them in Canada. Busted most of them since! But they were not as strong as our current lights.

From what I read, the Super Flash is one of the lightest at that power rating, so the weight freaks will love it for this as well."
Note: There is some suggestion that the Taiwanese SMART light I have see on sale in several stores these days may be the OEM version of Planet Bike's Blinky Superflash. They certainly look alike! For sure this too strong for a group ride except for the "last man" to use.

What about headlamps?

There are two types of front lights - flashing front lights to alert others to your presence and constantly-lit headlamps which help light your way. I am rarely in significant darkness so have never really explored headlamps. Flashing front lights are a critical part of any cyclists gear and the light and movement help to announce your presence to other road users. I have been reasonably satisfied with a 5 LED, 170 cd (at centre of light) Cateye HL-EL210/220 which I bought for about $55 one night before heading into the Coastal PCN. It was real handy!

There are the much brighter HL-EL-320 (1004 cd centre) or the lighter and waterproof HL-EL450 (400 cd centre; 3 x A3 batteries so half the battery life) - the latter costs US$34 and has a swivel mount which you can direct sideways, a useful option when cycling past junctions with vehicles turning in sideways to cut across your lane.
Amazon.com: Cateye HL-EL450 Compact OptiCube


Besides Cateye, there is Sigma with Cubelight II and many others as well as Planet Bike's US$19 Blinky Superflash Tail Light (comes in white) or the US$65 Topeak WhiteLite HP 3-Watt Bicycle Light.

Amazon.com: Topeak WhiteLite HP 3-Watt Bicycle Light


WhIle I want to be able to grab attention adequately from amongst traffic, I don't want to blind fellow road users temporarily. I would like to evaluate my light coming from a distance amidst traffic to determine its effectiveness at alerting an oncoming driver.

On the other hand, already at this light's intensity, I am careful to prevent blinding pedestrians when I join a PCN by switching the light to constant mode (i.e. not blinking) and pointing it downwards.

For the rare occasions I do need a headlight to light up my path, this US$60 Cateye HL-EL530 LED Bicycle Headlight looks like an attractive option. It is 100g heavier than my current light but is waterproof and the centre of beam is about 10x brighter at 1658 cl. – gosh, why don't I already own this?

Amazon.com: Cateye HL-EL530 LED Bicycle Headlight

Ride safe everyone!

Links to reviews (do suggest)
  • "Bicycle lighting product reviews," by Jason Ng. Jay's Cheesy Website V1.1, c/ Aug 2009 - link.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Foldies on a National Day 45km PCN sprint from Changi Village to Fort Road

A couple of guys on their foldable bicycles sprint the 45km from Changi Village to Fort Road along the Coastal Park Connector after a leisurely breakfast on National Day. The reason for the pace? Car park coupons were expiring!

The blog post and video is by Kevin Lim on a Birdy, the "guy in yellow" is Kenneth Pinto on a Dahon. I love the smooth uninterrupted ride and the demonstration of the joy a foldable bike can bring to a couple of bus an car commuting dudes.

The video has been sped up to only take 10 mins. Click to read on...

Happy National Day everyone!
NDP 2010



Monday, August 09, 2010

Have foldable bike will travel (on PCN)

The Park Connector Network in Singapore has opened up safe route to cyclists like never before. These traffic-free paths are safe for cyclists who just need keep an eye open for pedestrians and the mostly few intersections with traffic. Their increasing pervasiveness provides not only safe commuting and leisure cycling opportunities but also the joy of touring Singapore much like you would as a tourist in a foreign land.

Park Connector Network


Meanwhile, foldable bikes have offered space-scarce Singaporeans the solution to owning and transporting bicycles. Some are small enough to be allowed on the MRT during off-peak hours while others are simply convenient for storage. Foldables are so popular, neighbourhood shops are offering cheap versions for the casual cyclist.

This combination may help the rise of cycling as a leisure and commuting option for Singaporeans. Enough for me to spout, "have foldable bike will travel".

Ivan Chew, the Rambling Librarian, exemplifies this. I was heartened when he sent me news about his $135 bicycle purchase and subsequent exploration of Mandai:

"I bought foldable bike at my neighbourhood bike shop on 22 July 2010. The bike is a relatively cheap China production but construction and workmanship isn't shoddy. It cost me $182, including $47 accessories like a side handlebar mirror and 2 lights.

I suspect it's a blatant ripoff of a Dahon foldable bike but still, this meets my needs."

skitched-20100809-112242.jpg


"I bought the bicycle because I saw the Mandai PCN from a bus one evening. I had thought to myself that I can finally cycle out of Yishun, safely on a PCN. So I took it for a test-ride the next evening at about 9.30pm.

I rode the Khatib Bongsu PCN, starting from Yishun Park to junction of Yishun Ave 1 & 2, and then rode towards a new Mandai PCN that is not yet reflected on the NParks map. I rode this all the way to the Seletar Expressway flyover.

Park Connector Network - Yishun-Mandai


Then I hit Mandai Ave all the way to the turning point towards Mandai Crematorium. By this time it was edging towards midnight (work day next morning) so I decided to turn home. I am crossing my fingers we'll see the PCN fully connected in 5 year's time.

I'm not confident enough to cycle on the roads. But I don't like crowding pedestrians on paths (I'm a pedestrian most times!) So the PCN is REALLY a boon. NParks really scored big with me. And you can quote me on this :)"
Ivan Chew's foldable bicycle tucked away
Happy National Day everyone!
NDP 2010

Ivan Chew's response here.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Bicycle rides in Pengerang, south-eastern Johor, Malaysia

Nestled in the south-eastern-most tip of the State of Johor lies Pengerang – a popular cycling getaway for Singaporean cyclists seeking kampung trails, offroad tracks, open spaces, low traffic roads and hilly roads amidst the quiet charm of a rural, lowly-populated area. Oh and some cheap and great food.

The Penegerang, Tenggara and Kota Tinggi areas collectively make up the Kota Tinggi District.
skitched-20100808-231657.jpg
How well do you know the place names
of our immediate neighbour?


A $12 (one-way) 45-60 mins bumboat ride with your bicycle from Changi Point Ferry Terminal brings you to the new Tanjong Pengelih Jetty Complex and Public Marina which opened on 16 May 2009. From the jetty, a serene ride and Malaysian food awaits you - you'll just need your passport and some ringgit. But be sure to get back to this jetty by 2pm, unless you have chartered a boat.

Singaporean groups typically also visit the area for kelong stays and fishing. Many blog about their getaways from the rabid pace of life in Singapore and Arson and Arsenic has a great Pengerang post from 2008.

Tanjung Pengelih Jetty is merely the start of a ride of any variation of destinations and terrain which cyclists may simply refer to as "Pengerang". So find out exactly the sort of ride you are invited to before you embark on one! Examples of variations include:
  • Sungei Rengit 40km = about 2/3 kampung roads and 1/3 main road
  • Sungei Rengit 50km = 30km offroad + 20km main road
  • Tanjung Ramunia 60km = kampung roads and main road
  • Desaru 100km = main road loop
Pengerang, 2002


My cycling kakis, Zendogs and some friends, last rode there on Sun 13 Oct 2002. I remember a blazing sun and according to my old log, the distances covered were:
  • 11am - Pengarang Jetty to Sg Rengit: 26.11 km (1:34:51), Avs 16.5 km/h
  • 2.30pm - Sg Rengit to Pengarang Jetty: 17.71km (0:52:25), Avs 20.2km/h


The ride to Sungei Rengit was longer as we went offroad through some plantations, new roads, saw a spill or two and examined the belukar in the area. Definitely a ride to recommend cyclists from Singapore!

Pengerang, 2002


Despite the allure of the ride, it took me almost eight years before I returned. Meanwhile, the PCN arose in Singapore and foldable bicycles have become popular and may represent a space-saving commuting option which will make the bicycle popular once again - and see more riders head out to Pengerang.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A little tour of Sembawang bicycle infrastructure

Bicycle paths are gradually appearing in various Singapore new towns, with further plans announced recently. Are they helpful? Are the designs of high quality? Are they improving and learning from earlier mistakes. Leave a comment below if you have a view.

With those questions in mind I took a look around Sembawang this afternoon to see the bicycle infrastructure in the streets near the MRT station there. Here are some photos (from my mediocre phone camera).

The Sembawang paths as announced in 2008.

Please note that these paths are clearly intended for slow bicycle users - the same people who use the footways anyway, with or without bicycle paths. In my 90 minute walk I saw maybe 100 cyclists or more. Only two were on the roads and they were the only fast moving ones I saw. 
Most of the paths are simply widened footways, with separate sections for bicycle users and pedestrians. I saw a good mix of the sexes and a very wide range of ages (from small children to extremely elderly folks) using the paths.

No one paid any attention at all to the signs and paint during my short visit. But it didn't seem to matter. Maybe things are different at busy times like the morning and evening peak periods? 



In some places, the walking and cycling paths are separate. I didn't see anyone using the curvy path meant for pedestrians however.

The paths continue behind some bus stops without asking requiring bicycle users to dismount. Just a warning to give way. This is trusting people to be courteous, which I hope they mostly are! 

But cyclists are asked to dismount to negotiate some bus stops. Not surprisingly, none did so while I watched.
Bicycle users are also asked to dismount and walk wherever the path crosses the access street into the HDB parking areas. No prizes for guessing that none ever do! These are danger points but it seems unrealistic to expect cyclists to dismount here. Shouldn't such places be redesigned to have raised zebra crossings to give both pedestrians and cyclists priority? Motorists should be going very slowly and watching out at such locations anyway.

Signs in Tampines (and media coverage) suggest bicycle users are expected to walk across pedestrian crossings. I didn't see such signs in Sembawang except where the path itself ends before the intersection. In any case, the cyclists all do ride across, mostly cautiously at close to walking pace. 
By the way, there seems to be some confusion on the issue of cycling across pedestrian crossings. The law itself apparently does NOT ban cycling across pedestrian crossings (lights or zebra crossings), at least according to a 2009 parliamentary explanation by the Minster for Home Affairs (via Slow Riders blog). However, cycling on footways is illegal everywhere except Tampines. So it is not surprising there is confusion.

A wide range of people are cycling on the paths (and on other footways!). The high number of women and children I saw is a clue that cyclists here feel a high level of 'subjective safety'. I really don't know if that perception is matched by low accident and injury rates. Does anyone know of any careful analysis of this for these paths or others like them in Singapore?

So, what is your verdict on these facilities? 

Please comment! Are the Sembawang paths better than nothing? Could they be better? Are they a good start? Could they be improved on incrementally? Is there any need for all the paint and signs (which everyone seems to ignore)? Would it be better to just legalize cycling on pavements, as in Tampines (and as in Japan and certain states in Australia), and also widen them wherever possible?

I also have to confess some ignorance here on some important points. I am not sure if the newer bicycle paths (such as the latest one in Tampines) are using the same design guidelines as these older ones. Does anyone know? Have the design guidelines been made public? I am also a little confused about which paths have been done by which agency. I think Sembawang's paths were a Town Council initiative, whereas the newly announced paths are coming from an LTA initiative. Can anyone confirm?

Friday, July 16, 2010

"Seven towns to have dedicated cycling paths by 2014" (CNA)

Other articles on the same announcement are highlighted in WildSingapore (click to read):
  1. "Changi-Simei and Bedok join ranks of cycling towns," by Maria Almenoar. The Straits Times, 16 Jul 2010.
  2. "Marina Bay to be showcase cycling town," by Maria Almenoar. The Straits Times, 16 Jul 2010.
  3. "The two-wheeler push," by Leong Wee Keat. Today Online, 16 Jul 2010.


"Seven towns to have dedicated cycling paths by 2014," by Dylan Loh. 15 July 2010.

"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

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Razor TV five part feature on Cycling Safety (21 Jun 2010)

Link to the videos at Razor TV here. Click part 1 and the video will continue through all five parts. The team talked to Theodore Teo, Benoi Valin and various other cyclists and motorists.

RAZORTV - Cycling Safety
  1. Roads dangerous for cyclists (Cycling safety Pt 1) [06:31]
    Cyclists and motorists are clashing over their right to Singapore's roads. RazorTV finds out the grievances cyclists have about motorists.
  2. Motorists afraid of cyclists (Cycling safety Pt 2) [03:06]
    Motorists say that cyclists in Singapore do not practise safe cycling and often flout traffic regulations.
  3. More cyclists = more accidents? (Cycling safety Pt 3) [04:07]
    With more cyclists on the road, the jostle for space has become more intense. RazorTV finds out if having more road cyclists mean more accidents.
  4. Cycling to work is a breeze (Cycling safety Pt 4) [04:52]
    RazorTV follows Theodore Teo, assistant director at the Office of Career Services at Singapore Management University, from his home in Dover to his workplace in Victoria Street. Find out how he survives the bustling morning traffic.
  5. How to ride safely (Cycling safety Pt 5) [05:45]
    RazorTV learns how to ride safely on Singapore's roads from Theodore Teo, a committee member of Safe Cycling Task Force.
Update - See Thomas Keeble's remarks in the comment section.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"The road to a cycling city"

The road to a cycling city - image
"The road to a cycling city," by Cassandra Chew. The Straits Times, 16 Jun 2010. Govt should take a firm stand as pedestrians and motorists alike do not welcome cyclists
"I WAS in a bicycle store one weekend when I noticed a bumper sticker by the cashier counter.
"Watch For Cyclists", the striped black-and-yellow sign read. As I picked it up, the shopkeeper urged me to take one. Her eyes were heavy. It was the weekend when news of the death of experienced cyclist Evelyn Toh, 39, broke. She had been hit by a van.

'At least the newspapers reported the accident,' the shopkeeper sighed. 'They didn't use to.' It was a brief conversation, but she said plenty with just those few words.

To her, society has little regard for cyclists. And it is easy to see why.

Cyclists here are almost like the red-headed stepchildren of the road, without a place to call their own. By law, cyclists are to ride on the road - except in Tampines, where cycling on pavements is allowed.

Yet, many motorists are unwilling to share the roads with them. Ask any cyclist and he will readily share an incident or two, or three, when he had a near brush with death, no thanks to a motorist who drove with a bad attitude.

Naturally, some cyclists opt for the relative safety of the pavement. But as it turns out, pedestrians are equally, if not more, territorial than motorists. I would be hard-pressed to find a pedestrian who does not find cyclists a menace on the walkways.

So where do cyclists belong?

It's a question that needs to be answered quickly as this island copes with a burgeoning two-wheeler population. The longer it is sidestepped, the longer the vulnerable cyclist on the roads will have to ride on, exposed to hazards from careless motorists, deprived of the rights of safety they are entitled to.

If the answer is that cyclists are 'legitimate road users (who) deserve to be able to ride safely', as Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, said recently, then the status quo is not going to cut it.

Like cycling advocate Irene Ng, a Tampines GRC MP, I feel the Government plays a key role in establishing cyclists' right to be on the roads. Although millions are being invested in infrastructure for leisure cycling and short commutes, more can be done to integrate cycling as a mode of transport here, she argues.

And there are good reasons to do so.

Cycling is a good form of exercise. It is cheaper than travelling by car. It is also a faster means of travel than being stuck in a car if there is a traffic jam. Cycling produces less pollution than cars. Cycling infrastructure costs less to build than that for other vehicles.

But here is a reason that will interest every road user, not just than the health- and environmentally-conscious.
Cycling as an additional form of transport can help ease traffic congestion, a problem that can cost businesses billions of dollars.

That was the projection by the business community in Melbourne, Australia, in the early part of this decade, which led their mayor at the time, Dr John So, to be serious about encouraging cycling. Like many cycling cities in the world, Melbourne used bicycle lanes. Then, Dr So added bike rental stations and parking facilities equipped with showers and cafes.

Over in the Swedish city of Malmo, Mr Ilmar Reepalu, the mayor, says the idea is to make cycling attractive. So besides offering useful maps, the city wooed commuters by getting local celebrities on board. Mr Reepalu put them on bicycles, sent them round the city and published their favourite experiences in a book.

In Melbourne, Dr So also rounded up people in the community to get everyone on the same page. 'Companies can organise cycle-to- work days and cycling carnivals on weekends to get motorists to become recreational cyclists,' he suggests. From his experience, motorists will be more open to sharing the roads if they knew what it was like out there for cyclists.

Both city planners, who will be in Singapore in two weeks' time for the World Cities Summit, displayed strong political will to make cycling safe. And soon, the community came alongside to partner them in their efforts.

Today, bicycles make up 40 per cent of all journeys to and from work in Malmo, and 9 per cent of peak hour commuter traffic in Melbourne.

The Government here can spark a similar transformation if it establishes the legitimacy of cyclists here and promotes the humble bicycle as a means of transport.

If there is not enough room on existing roads for bicycle lanes, then how about shared lanes where cyclists have priority?

Motorists can be re-educated on the hows and whys of giving way to cyclists. Driving instructors, on their part, can help teach learner drivers the appropriate way of co-existing with cyclists on the roads.

More bicycle parking spaces can be erected near MRT stations and town malls. If outdoor bicycle parking facilities are unsafe, what about mandating, as New York City has, that new buildings have secure indoor parking for bicycles?

On the other hand, it will also be necessary to look into the list of bugbears that motorists have about cyclists.
After all, we can't expect motorists to share the roads if cyclists continue to flout traffic rules and get away with it.

If we have moved away from the practice of licensing bicycles, then what about a compulsory road safety test before cyclists are allowed on the roads?

And to help alter motorists' view of cyclists as parasitical road users who don't contribute to the upkeep of roads, perhaps we can consider charging cyclists a nominal fee if their bikes are above a certain size. Call it a bike tax.

There are solutions if we are willing to find them. The question is: Are we committed to doing so?

Cyclists, for their part, can abide by the rules.

But until the Government takes a firm stand on where they belong, motorists will have an excuse to see cyclists as road hazards who don't pay road tax, and not as living, breathing people who matter too.


casschew@sph.com.sg

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Malaysian Railway land - a north-south bikeway and nature corridor in the making

Letters to the The Straits Times Forum Page, 03 Jun 2010

"Go for green corridor"
"THE potential release of land owned by the Malayan Railway (KTM) presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a beautiful cycling, hiking and nature trail linking the north and south of Singapore.

This would be a boon for the increasingly health- and environment-conscious population seeking spaces for cycling, jogging and hiking, and help them appreciate the nature spots.

The KTM corridor is an unobstructed, traffic-free and flat path. It presents both a non-motorised transport option as well as a recreational opportunity.

Traffic-separating infrastructure - bridges, cuttings and tunnels - already exists, lowering the cost of conversion considerably as opposed to construction from scratch.

The converted path could easily be linked to the existing Park Connector Networks (PCNs) in the north, west and south of Singapore.

For example, it would be possible to link it with the Woodlands Waterfront and the Northern Explorer PCN, the Labrador Nature and Coastal Walk and the popular Southern Ridges Walk.

The new path would also immediately link the north, north-western and western towns with the biotechnology hub of one-north, the future arts-and- culture hub in Tanjong Pagar and the financial district, providing a safe and convenient commute for people living in these areas."

Thomas R. Keeble
"A new life for Tanjong Pagar Station," The Straits Times Forum page, 03 Jun 2010.

'How perfectly fitting for this historic transport hub to function as a terminus for green cyclists wishing to park their bikes and enter the city centre on foot.'
THE Malayan Railway's right-of-way contains some lovely islands of tranquillity in Singapore's otherwise urban landscape. They should be cherished. The right-of- way can be converted into a leafy ribbon park running from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands, with a bikeway for convenient access to the city from the north.

Bike lock-up and pay-shower/locker facilities could be built into the conservation plans of the Tanjong Pagar Station. How perfectly fitting for this historic transport hub to function as a terminus for green cyclists wishing to park their bikes and enter the city centre on foot. It could be developed as a hiking/walking/ cycling emporium, a 'Velopolis'.

And please, preserve the lovely cottage-like station in Bukit Timah as a midway resting point offering refreshments.

The ribbon park and Velopolis could be named after Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, to honour his visionary reforestation campaigns that are among his greatest legacies to this city state.

Wayne Mitchell


Thursday, May 27, 2010

(KTM) Rails to Trails?

Tom Keeble asks hopefully,

"So with the transfer of the KTM line to Singapore, what do you think are the chances of getting the line turned into a massive park connector from Woodlands to Tanjong Pagar?" Like Rails to Trails in the US - www.railstotrails.org


He is referring the ground-breaking news on the 24th of May 2010:

"KTMB station in Tanjong Pagar to relocate to Woodlands by July 2011," by S Ramesh. Channel News Asia, 24 May 2010. [pdf]

SINGAPORE: Singapore and Malaysia capped a historic day in relations on Monday with agreement on a long outstanding bilateral issue.

After 20 years, both sides have arrived at a solution on the Malayan Railway Land in Singapore. The leaders of the two countries agreed to move the station at the heart of the city centre in Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands Train checkpoint, near the border by the 1 July 2011.

The smiles said it all - of a retreat that has been fruitful with significant moves. The centrepiece must surely be the issue of the railway land and lines, spelt out in the Points of Agreement (POA) signed in 1990.


Read the rest of the article here.

For the joint statement by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak at the Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat, click here.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Evelyn Toh, RIP 2010

"Cyclist dies after being hit by van," by Melissa Pang. The Straits Times, 16 May 2010. Man held over death; fatal accident comes two months after another cycling death

Ms Toh posing with her bicycle in this photo, which was taken by her husband Hoi Seng just before she went on her ill-fated ride last Thursday. - Photos courtesy of the family of Evelyn Toh
It was a photo taken before she went on her usual cycling routine, and the last that would ever be taken of her.

Last Thursday, Ms Evelyn Toh, 39, became the latest member of the cycling community to die in a traffic accident.

Her husband, who would give his name only as Hoi Seng, said he snapped the photo on the day of the accident. He said his wife, whom he wed 11 years ago, liked to be photographed in her sports gear.

Her death follows that of Mr Benjamin Mok, 35, who died two months ago after he was hit by a suspected drunk driver. A 62-year-old general practitioner was arrested in the case.

Hoi Seng, 40, a manager, said his wife had at least 15 years of riding experience. They have no children.

'When the police called, I did not believe that the accident was possible. She was a very safe and experienced cyclist.'

He knows little about the accident except that his wife was hit from behind by a van while on her usual cycling route along Sembawang Road.

The housewife, an avid sportswoman who participated in up to seven marathons and triathlons a year, was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital where she succumbed to serious injuries.

Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Wanbao reported last Friday that a 53-year-old man had been arrested for causing death by a rash act.

Ms Toh is remembered by Singapore Armed Forces technician Ayub Hasbi, 46, for her safety-conscious ways.

Saying he knew the former Iron Man participant through a weekend cycling group, he added that she would 'warn us about potholes, traffic lights and cars'.

Mr Ayub, who has more than 20 years of cycling experience, thinks more needs to be done to improve safety for the cycling community.

Last year, 17 cyclists and pillion riders died on the road, down from 22 in 2008.

After Mr Mok's death two months ago, cycling groups stepped up efforts to make roads safer for cyclists.

The Straits Times reported last month that Safe Cycling Taskforce president Steven Lim was looking to increase the number of road signs that warn motorists of the presence of cyclists.

There are currently at least 119 'Cyclists Ahead' signs.

Mr Ayub, however, questions the usefulness of these signs.

'It is giving an instruction, but whether motorists follow it is another matter. Even if the signs are big, they won't work if motorists do not show regard for them.'

But former national triathlete Jeanette Wang thinks 'a sign is better than no sign' and that they can be effective.

'Out of 10 signs, motorists will see at least one, and will know to look out for cyclists.'

Ms Wang, 28, an associate editor at Shape magazine, admits that cycling continues to be a dangerous experience for her.

'There's always a close call when I'm on the road. I have to jam-brake every time I ride because cars just don't notice me, even though I have front and back lights, and reflector strips to make myself more visible.'

Mr Robert Choy, 50, who has been cycling for 30 years, said motorists and cyclists both have a role to play in working towards a common understanding.

'Singapore drivers don't have the patience for cyclists. They also don't anticipate how fast a bicycle can go and think they can beat all cyclists,' said the self-employed man.

According to him, serious recreational cyclists can reach speeds of up to 70kmh when going down a slope. Ms Wang estimated that these cyclists travel at 35kmh on average.

Hoi Seng and his family hope Ms Toh's death will help raise awareness of the importance of road safety for cyclists.

Said his elder sister, who declined to be named: 'It's important to educate the public...If other road users were more careful and considerate, lives would not be wasted.'

Hoi Seng is unsure if he will ever cycle again.

'Evelyn was my inspiration. We'd look out for each other on the roads when we cycled,' he said.

'But I know she would want me to continue. She had always encouraged me to lead a healthy lifestyle.'

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ride of Silence Singapore, Sat 22 May 2010: 9am, from Merlion Park

The Ride of Silence
"Tonight we number many but ride as one
In honor of those not with us, friends, mothers, fathers, sisters, sons
With helmets on tight and heads down low,
We ride in silence, cautious and slow
The wheels start spinning in the lead pack
But tonight we ride and no one attacks
The dark sunglasses cover our tears
Remembering those we held so dear
Tonight’s ride is to make others aware
The road is there for all to share
To those not with us or by our side,
May God be your partner on your final ride"
- Mugai

"Join cyclists worldwide in a silent slow-paced ride (maximum 20 kmh) in honor of those who have been injured or killed while cycling on public roadways."

Ride of Silence


The Ride of Silence Singapore
will set off on Saturday 22 May 2010: from Merlion Park. Three routes are planned this year (north, east and west; see tinyurl.com/ros2010sg-route.

The Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan is the Guest Of Honour and will ride with ROS.

To cycle in support with the group, register at rideofsilence.sg

The West Route has the support of Senja-Cashew Community Centre, who are hosting the West End Point where there will be booths set up by NParks, Traffic Police and LTA about cycling safety.

The first Ride of Silence Singapore was held in 2009 at night - see "impressions from a car window. "

Friday, May 07, 2010

"Promote the use of environmentally friendly transport"

Focus group on sustainability and identity for Concept Plan Review 2011 - Summary of Preliminary recommendations (06 May 2010)

Excerpt:

"1(b) Promote the use of environmentally friendly transport:
More people should take public transport, walk or cycle, rather than use private transport. To encourage more people to use public transport, fares should be reduced and public transport should be made more convenient, frequent and comfortable. For example, multi-modal season passes can be introduced to allow for unlimited travel to be made across different transport modes within a designated time period, say a day, and economical shuttle services to MRT/LRT stations can be provided. Car parking policies should be reviewed to discourage the use of private transport, for example by reducing the number of car parking lots or by charging higher car parking fees in the city and town centres.

We should encourage cycling and walking by making it safer and more comfortable to do so. A dedicated bicycle lane network is necessary, for example like those found in other cities such as Osaka, Amsterdam and Sydney. We should have more parking facilities for bicycles which are also more secure and space efficient. Changing facilities should also be introduced for cyclists. Walking connections could be shaded and protected from direct sun and rain."


Read the entire document and provide feedback at http://spring.ura.gov.sg/conceptplan2011/publicforum/.

CP2011 Public Forum Registration

'A dedicated bicycle lane network is necessary' (Focus Group, URA Concept Plan 2011 Review)

Lanes, lots for cyclists," by Ong Dai Lin. Today, 07 May 2010. And fewer car park spots among URA focus group's recommendations.
"Some of their suggestions echoed popular calls that have been rejected time and again by the Government; other proposals may be downright unpopular, admitted the focus group appointed by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to review its Concept Plan 2011.

Either way, green transport will have a key role in building a sustainable city, said the 30-member group.

For one, a dedicated bicycle lane network is necessary, and Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, co-chair of the group and director of the Institute of Policy Studies, hopes the Government will act on the suggestion even though this has been raised unsuccessfully in the past.

There should also be more and better secured parking facilities for bicycles, as well as changing facilities for cyclists.

Private transport, on the other hand, should be discouraged by reducing the number of car parking lots or by charging higher parking fees in the city and town centres.

Mr Lee Tzu Yang, the group co-chair and chairman of Shell Companies in Singapore, told reporters the measures may be unpopular but were targeted ways to limit traffic flow into certain areas.

He said: "Everybody supports the use of public transport; they just want somebody else to use the public transport."

The group said that lower public transport fares as well as more convenient, comfortable and frequent buses and trains would make a difference. For example, season passes for unlimited travel across different transport modes can be introduced, and economical shuttle services to MRT or LRT stations can be provided.

The carrot-and-stick approach should also apply to waste reduction and recycling, recommended the group - one of two appointed in January to discuss issues in the URA's Concept Plan, which maps out the long-term direction for land use and transportation in Singapore.

Higher waste-disposal fees - tied to the amount of trash collected from each household - can help reduce wastage, for example, while recycling facilities could be located at public transport nodes with rebates on public transport fares to encourage recycling.

This was the first time the group, which is looking into sustainability and identity, was presenting its draft recommendations. Six members, including the co-chairs, met 200 people in a forum as part of URA's overall public consultation exercise.

One member of the public, Mr Jeffrey Chong, asked if the panel - which included Nature Society president Shawn Lum, South West Community Development Council member Tiew Chee Meng and National University Singapore geography department chief Shirlena Huang - had considered introducing urban farming.

Mr Tiew said land scarcity in Singapore was an obstacle, and a green spirit must first be inculcated in Singaporeans.

After seeking the public's feedback, the focus group will fine-tune its recommendations before submitting its final report to URA, which reviews its Concept Plan once every 10 years. The current review is scheduled to be completed next year.

Meanwhile, the other focus group looking into quality of life and ageing will present its recommendations on Monday.

The public can give their feedback on yesterday's preliminary recommendations at spring.ura.gov.sg/conceptplan2011/publicforum"

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Will LTA ... come up with a coordinated national plan?" (Parliament)

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PARLIAMENT QUESTIONS & ANSWERS – 26 APRIL 2010


QUESTION FOR ORAL ANSWER

Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong: "To ask the Minister for Transport given that cyclists are banned from riding on footways, except in Tampines, whether the Land Transport Authority will work with the Police and other relevant agencies to promote safety for cyclists on roads and come up with a coordinated national plan for improving the infrastructure and regulatory framework for cycling as a mode of transport. "

Response from Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Teo Ser Luck

  1. Mr Speaker Sir, the Land Transport Authority, together with other relevant agencies, has been working to creating a safer riding environment for cyclists.
  2. Given Singapore’s land constraints, our policy is to optimise our available road and pedestrian space, to meet the diverse needs of pedestrians, motorists, cyclists as well as other groups of commuters and road users. To do this, we have to balance the needs of the rising number of cyclists against that of other road users and pedestrians, while cyclists, drivers and pedestrians have to exercise mutual accommodation and due consideration for each other.
  3. One key aspect to promote safety of cyclists on roads is public education. Having recognised the vulnerability of cyclists on the roads, Traffic Police (TP) as well as several agencies, community and grassroot leaders and also the Safe Cycling Task Force have been conducting road safety talks and exhibitions in schools, workplaces and neighbourhoods to promote safe cycling habits. Also, based on the observation that many foreign workers had opted for cycling as a preferred mode of transport, Traffic Police has since been working closely with various foreign dormitories, corporate partners and organisations that employ a large number of foreign workers to promote safe cycling among their workers.
  4. With regards to infrastructure, LTA is currently working with community stakeholders and the Traffic Police to roll out a $43 million programme to design and construct dedicated cycling paths in 5 selected HDB Towns as part of a pilot scheme, namely Tampines, Pasir Ris, Taman Jurong, Sembawang and Yishun. These towns were selected as they had favourable local characteristics - a relatively compact geography, suitable infrastructure and land available for the cycling tracks, and also strong support for cycling. LTA is also working with the Safe Cycling Task Force (SCTF) to identify frequently used cycling routes outside of these 5 towns. Signs alerting motorists of the presence of cyclists have been installed along these routes and the signs have been found to be useful. LTA will continue to work with the SCTF to identify the need for similar signs at other locations.
  5. To better coordinate these plans, and to allow each community to learn from the experience of others, the Ministry of Transport set up a Cycling Facilitation Committee (CFC) in June 2009 for which I am the Chairman. The aim of the CFC is to establish a common, community-led approach to tackle the “soft” issues related to the implementation of dedicated cycling paths in these 5 towns, as well as best practices to facilitate cycling for intra-town trips. Currently, Grassroot leaders from these 5 towns are represented on the CFC. Other relevant governmental and non-governmental agencies such as LTA, NParks, HDB, Police and Safe Cycling Task Force are also represented. The committee is working to establish a common code of practice for safe cycling, public education efforts and enforcement against reckless cycling behaviour in towns that want to facilitate cycling. We should see the efforts in these 5 cycling towns as piloting new ideas and approaches from which we can gain useful experience and lessons for possible wider implementation as we evolve our plans to facilitate cycling.
  6. The safety of all road users, whether they are drivers, cyclists or pedestrians, is a shared responsibility. All road users will have to play their part by following the traffic rules and regulations, and exercise mutual accommodation and due consideration for each other."

Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong:
"Sir, can I urge the Senior Parliamentary Secretary not to look at the five demonstration cycling towns as models for the rest of the island but rather to look at the congested cities in the world, such as Paris, London, Geneva, Chicago, Edinburgh, who have managed to incorporate cycling into their urban transport systems with bike lanes on roads, with clear signs that indicate that cyclists have a right to be on the roads? Sir, I feel that the emphasis on Tampines or the other towns in Singapore is a red herring and might lead us in the wrong direction because what we need is a clear national policy.

On the other question of education, can I ask the Senior Parliamentary Secretary if he could work with the Traffic Police to ensure that the message is also targeted at motorists and not only at cyclists? For safe cycling to take place on roads, we need motorists to look out for them and are conditioned to look out for them."

Mr Teo Ser Luck:
"Sir, we have also studied the cities that the Member has mentioned, whether it is Paris or London. On trips that MOT have made, we have looked at the different road infrastructure and how they facilitate cycling. The cities face similar situations and they also have made their own trade-offs. To accommodate dedicated cycling tracks or lanes on the road, you would have to give up a certain space for other motorists and other usage.

We will continue to look at other possible ways – whether to put up more effective signs or whether to locate the space for cycling on the road or on a track. Although conditions could be different from city to city, we will look at what can be customised for Singapore's environment.

At this point in time, we do not just look at the five cycling towns and experiment with these. What we try to do with the five cycling towns is to look at the "soft" issues, which are education and the clinics that we are conducting across the different towns as well as certain codes of practice that the community leaders can provide us with.

So we take a multi-pronged approach – we will look at not just the infrastructure in the different cities that the Member has mentioned but also the education programmes and how we actually enforce it. In Tampines, for example, with the bye-laws, they were able to enforce it at a reasonable level on the ground through the Town Councils. We have to look at whether that model of operations can actually be implemented in the other areas. It is the same for education, and infrastructure, in terms of building dedicated tracks.

As far as education for motorists is concerned, I agree with the Member that it is not just focused on our cyclists and making sure that they behave but also whether the motorists can accommodate and co-exist with cyclists. I think for this, we will work with the Traffic Police and look at the other different ways that we can educate the public – whether to have more safety awareness campaigns to alert the motorists about cyclists on the road. We will do the best we can in terms of putting up signs."

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