Monday, April 28, 2008

LTA's Latest Transport Survey: Will it consider the cyclist?

I wonder if the latest National Transport Survey will consider the Singapore cyclist as a road user and the Bicycle as a realistic and practical mode of transport.
The travel patterns gathered from the survey will surely assist in formulating policies and infrastructure planning.
I hope that a bird's eye view of the transport network can be looked into, including questions that consider cycling. Otherwise the survey - to me - will not achieve a proper feel of the real transport situation, and how planners and policy makers can move ahead in a 'world-class transport system'.
Would anyone be able to 'intervene' if the survey is not Bicycle-friendly?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bicycles in the Land Transport Masterplan 2008

Three cheers for all the bicycle policies in the new transport policy paper?

Hmm... Maybe one-and-a-bit cheers. But with some reasons for optimism.

The good news?

The recently released land transport policy paper, known as the Land Transport Master Plan: A People-Centred Land Transport System", DOES mention bicycles as a legitimate mode of transport!

This is worth a small cheer since neither MOT nor LTA have shown much enthusiasm or leadership on bicycle transport in the past.

The cover logo includes a cycling symbol along with the various other land transport modes. Recognition as a mainstream mode of transport! (By the way, is there symbolism in the location of each mode of transport, with buses and trains at the top and cars and motorcycles at the bottom? And if so, note where the bicycle is.)

The report includes this fairly positive statement:
With its increasing popularity, cycling can be a non-motorised transport option to bring commuters to major transport nodes.

Another positive sign is the branding of the report as being about "ensuring a liveable city". Bicycles could obviously play a big part in a goal like that.

The not-so-good news?

Unfortunately the details on bicycles (reproduced below) seem like a bit of a let-down. [My comments are in brackets]:
  • Provide better bicycle parking facilities around MRT stations and bus interchanges
    [This is nice. SMRT and SBSTransit have been doing this for a long time but the facilities do certainly need to be better. So let's hope this will bring shelter for bicycle parking, better quality parking racks, the option of supervised, secured parking for bicycles, etc.]

  • Allow foldable bicycles onto buses and trains on a trial basis
    [Um. But the MRT system had already been allowing folding bikes! So saying this is to be a trial seems like a step backwards.]

  • Close short gaps between the park connectors and transport nodes to cater to commuters who cycle to the MRT stations or bus interchanges.
    [This is certainly a good idea. But what about the gaps in the PC network itself. And why focus only on gaps between PCs and 'transport nodes'. Why not fill gaps between PCs and important destinations like Town Centres, employment nodes and the City Centre?]

  • Install appropriate road signs to alert motorists to the presence of cyclists along frequently used routes. [Useful. It is good that this acknowledges and affirms that bicycles are legitimate users of the roads. But so much more needs to be done that this seems a little lame.]

What is going on?
I have to admit that I was initially discouraged by the bicycle aspects of the Master Plan.

But on reflection, I do now see some hopeful signs.

I get an impression of the beginnings of a change of attitudes towards bicycles as transport. [Or am I a hopeless optimist?]

I suspect that some key people in MOT and LTA may have realised that bicycle use is not fading away. In fact it is increasing. Perhaps some decision-makers even see some opportunities in the idea of making bicycles a bigger part of our system.

However, I wonder if anyone in LTA has much of a clue how to do better? They may be starting to ask the question. But they don't know the answer. Never mind. This is a start!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

License bicycles?

During discussions with my cycling friends, the only real solution to many of the problems we see on the road has been licensing. And I mean a license that you get after passing a test! Logistically however, that structure seems to be beyond the sort of licensing fee that a "cycle to work" type of cyclists can afford. Despite their rising popularity, a critical use of bicycles is still poor man's transport. So my friends shake their heads and the discussion turns back to long-term solutions.

Recently, in light of the impending completion of the Tampines pavement cycling trial, the media and bloggers have highlighted hit and run cases between pedestrians and cyclists. Additionally there have been more than a few reports suggesting blatant bicycle theft is prevalent in some areas.

In response, this letter to Today suggests bringing back the sort of licenses that ran out of use in the 70's. A big red disk with a number displayed in the rear or alongside the rear wheel, with the optional anti-theft measure of etching the number on the frame.

Letter to Today, 08 Apr 2008
Letter from Sito Kok Kee

There has been much debate over cyclists using walkways meant for pedestrians. In any case, the number of bicycles in Singapore is set to grow.

Therefore, I would like to suggest that the authorities consider licensing bicycles. If every bicycle has a licence plate, even the most errant cyclist will behave as the blanket of anonymity is removed.

At present, in the event of a bicycle-pedestrian collision, a pedestrian either hopes the cyclist will stop and render help or has to give chase to seek compensation.

It will also help to curb bicycle thefts as the licence number can be etched onto the bike. Now, if you lose your bike, there is little hope of ever seeing it again.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Not just cyclists

In "Neither man nor machine," (28 Feb 2008), Arson and Arsenic writes,

"While I will agree with most of these letters about the specific irresponsible individuals they encountered, it also shows how Singaporeans are intolerant and discriminating towards others. There is a clear lack of understanding between various socio-economic groups in Singapore.

I got a more poignant view of this situation because I have just began motorcycle lessons, and forays into motorcycle forums in Singapore.


I have written that car drivers in Singapore do not treat bicycle riders as equals on the roads here. And having gotten a closer look at motorcycle riders, I believe that they feel similarly treated."

Read his blog post to discover why.