Monday, April 18, 2011

Singapore Park Connectors: cyclists can wheel out bike trail tips," by Feng Zengkun. The Straits Times 18 Apr 2011.NParks invites them to plug scenic spots, offer ideas to improve network
ST Graphics-Park Connectors
Click for larger image

CYCLING routes by the people, for the people.
By the year's end, cyclists in the park connectors here will have access to recommendations - provided by their fellow cyclists - to restaurants, heritage spots and scenic views along these biking trails.

Beyond this, cyclists and other park connector users will also be encouraged to offer ideas to improve the network, said Mr Bernard Lim, the assistant director of the National Parks Board's (NParks) Park Connector Network.

The information on the network, which will eventually take cyclists from Bukit Timah to Marina Bay, will be posted on the NParks website.

The data-banking is off to a rolling start.

Since NParks launched an online feedback form for members of the public in January, it has received about 10 replies a week; it also keeps in touch with local cycling groups here for their input.

Retiree Mina Chan and her friends form one such 'resource' group. Aged between 40 and 60, these avid cyclists try out a different park connector every weekend, and, for the last five years, have offered NParks updates on the condition of the tracks and alerted it to danger spots.

Ms Chan already has a route to recommend to fellow cyclists - the waterfront stretch between Alexandra Canal and the Singapore Flyer.

Another cyclist, Mr Han Jok Kwang, 56, has petitioned NParks successfully to keep the gravel stretch through hilly terrain in the western loop connector.

'I asked NParks to keep it because it gives cyclists variety,' he said.

Mr Lim said that, without Mr Han's petition, NParks may have levelled the terrain and laid tarmac so everyone - even beginner cyclists - can use it.

NParks considers suggestions as long as they do not compromise safety, he said, although such assessments can be subjective.

He said the call for input from cyclists aims to make the routes more personal for users of the park connectors. 'We spent the first few years building up the infrastructure; now let's see what else we can do with it,' he said.

The Park Connector Network consists of seven parts, to be developed by 2015 (see graphic). By then, it will have 300km of bike paths.

Mr Lim said, with the cycling community contributing information, the pan-island network can be made safer too.

'Our employees and sub-contractors check the routes every day but they cannot cover everything because the routes are too long. Having more eyes helps us catch more things.'

Mr Pan Wee Yeow, a retiree who rides twice a week, said seasoned cyclists can identify problems before injuries occur. These include blind corners that need mirrors to be set up and where speed-reducing strips may be advised. He added that regular cyclists can also spot growing problems that may otherwise go unnoticed, such as faulty lighting or algae on the paths, which makes them slippery.

NParks said it fixes minor problems such as faulty lights within two days of being notified; problems requiring more work, such as levelling bike paths to prevent jarring bumps, may take up to a week.

Mr Pan hailed NParks' move to get the public involved, given that more people are taking up cycling.

There are no statistics on the cycling population here, but cycling clubs say the number of people on two-wheelers has exploded in the last five years.

The OCBC Cycle Singapore event last month, a ride of up to 60km along East Coast Park, attracted more than 10,000 participants, twice the number two years ago.

For Mr Han, cycling is about going back to a simpler pastime.

He said: 'We have the integrated resorts, gadgets, all the fancy diversions. Sometimes, things don't need to be so high-tech. Sometimes, all you need is a road and a bike.'

Members of the public may e-mail to join NParks' mailing list and to get the link to the feedback form.

1 comment:

thomask said...

Seems to me the best way to integrate the PCN network would be to use the KTM line to join the ugly disparate parts into one beautiful whole.

Would you guys be interested in supporting the Green Corridor Proposal on their website? They'd very much appreciate the support!