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.
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?