Thursday, December 24, 2009
Many NTU students participate in the rally using rented bikes and pedal under a hot sun for 128km - that makes for a tough challenge but also lots of company along the entire stretch. The feeling of accomplishment for these cyclists is indeed considerable.
The registration fees are $15 for NTU Student/ Staff/ Alumni, and $23 for members of the public. Registration closes on 7th February 2010. See: http://bikerally.ntusportsclub.sg/
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tampines GRC MPs (from left) Masagos Zulkifli, Ong Kian Min, Sin Boon Ann, Mah Bow Tan, Irene Ng and North East district mayor Teo Ser Luck waving to say 'thank you' during the launch of the Tampines Safe Cycling Clinic yesterday morning. The two-hour clinics, conducted by volunteer cycling wardens, will teach cyclists traffic rules and cycling etiquette. -- ST Photo: Ashleigh Sim
"FROM March 1 next year, footways in Tampines will be shared by pedestrians and cyclists alike as it becomes Singapore's first cycling town.
A two-year trial to see if this could be safely done has been successful, the Tampines MPs said yesterday.
The Members of Parliament said the trial found that very few cyclists rode recklessly, and a majority of residents - 53 per cent in 2007 and 65 per cent this year - supported the sharing of walkways.
The Group Representation Constituency (GRC) has been working with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Traffic Police since May 2007 to assess the feasibility of making Tampines a model cycling town, said MP Masagos Zulkifli.
'Cycling is an environmentally friendly and healthy mode of transport and Tampines, being a compact town, is an ideal choice,' he noted.
With Tampines MRT station as a focal point, the farthest block is only 2km away. He said: 'With facilities, schools and shops in close proximity, more and more residents are choosing bicycles as their preferred mode of transport to travel about in Tampines.'
The trial was sparked by a 2005 parliamentary debate in which Tampines GRC MP Irene Ng called for cyclists to be allowed to ride on footways, in the light of an increasing number of them having been involved in fatal accidents on busy roads.
But the decision was conditional on three key features - infrastructure, education and enforcement - being implemented together, said Mr Masagos.
The GRC began widening footways to accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists. The town council also constructed two new stretches of bicycle paths, and the LTA will be building 6.9km of bicycle paths in the first half of next year.
Yesterday also marked the launch of the Tampines Safe Cycling Clinics, funded by the North East Community Development Council. The two-hour clinics, conducted by volunteer cycling wardens, will teach cyclists traffic rules and cycling etiquette.
The clinics are an initiative of North East district mayor Teo Ser Luck, who set up the Safe Cycling Task Force for the Tampines project. He lost a friend, Mr Sylvester Ang, to a cycling accident in 2004. 'His wife said to me, don't let his death go to waste,' he recalled.
As a further check, Mr Masagos said the by-laws would be amended to allow the Tampines Town Council to hand out fines of between $50 and $1,000 to errant cyclists. Reckless cyclists can also be taken to court and fined up to $5,000.
The by-laws will ensure that errant cyclists do not ruin the system for the majority of safe cyclists, said Minister for National Development and Tampines MP Mah Bow Tan.
Residents hope this will be the case.
'Footpaths are where you would feel safe from cars, but if you add cyclists to the paths, you have to always be alert,' said student Penelope Teo, 22.
But Mr Mah is confident that conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians will be minimised in time. 'The message we want to give cyclists is that the pedestrians have the right of way. If you want to behave like a motorist, go on the road,' he said."
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To read more, see the older articles here about Tampines - link and the ST Discussion Forum - link.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - The world is gathered in Copenhagen for the U.N. climate summit, but Denmark"s bicycle-friendly capital has also given its name to a movement of cities trying to find a kinder way to commute.
Nearly 40 percent of Copenhagen's population cycle to work or school on ubiquitous paved cycle paths. Many residents take to their bikes year-round, braving rain and snow through the winter in a city where the bicycles outnumber the people.
"Only when there's half a meter of snow outside would I consider using the underground," said 24-year old student Louise Kristensen.
Amsterdam and Beijing too are known for their bicycles, but the Danish capital is where urban planners from around the world have been looking for ways to get their people out of cars and up onto bikes, an effort known as Copenhagenisation.
"We're trying to strike a balance in our transportation network which means having streets that can accommodate everyone," New York Transport Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said.
Klaus Bondam, Copenhagen's technical and environmental chief, calls himself a "mega cyclist" and says the bike's popularity stems partly from high taxes on cars which meant working-class Danes could not afford to drive in the 1930s and '40s.
"Today you'll meet everybody on the bicycle lanes -- women and men, rich and poor, old and young," Bondam said.
The municipality has during the last three years invested more than 250 million crowns ($49.42 million) in bicycle lanes and to make the traffic safer for bicyclists.
City Hall has also made a rule that when it snows, the bike paths get cleared before car lanes.
Today around a third of the population drive cars to work or study, another third take public transport, while 37 percent cycle -- a figure the city aims to boost to 50 percent by 2015.
Bondam said there are many benefits when citizens choose bicycles over cars: pollution and noise decline, public health improves, and more people on bikes or walking creates a sense of safety in the city.
Fewer parked cars leaves more space for playgrounds, parks, shopping areas and other useful public amenities.
Bondam said car traffic should be limited, though a car-less society is probably impossible. However, cars that cannot be avoided should be electric rather than run on fossil fuels.
From 70 to 80 percent of the world's carbon emissions, blamed by scientists for global warming, come from big cities.
As more and more people have become concerned with the climate, officials from around the world have come to Copenhagen to learn about its bike culture.
But Danish architect and professor Jan Gehl, who coined the term Copenhagenisaton, says the concept is broader than that and entails cities becoming lively, safe, sustainable and healthy.
For the past decade Gehl has helped cities around the world, including New York, Seattle, San Francisco, London, Stockholm, Oslo, Melbourne, Sydney and Amman, to "Copenhagenise."
"Depending on culture, region, climate and topography, there are good solutions for every city," Gehl said.
He noted that in most parts of the world car travel has only been common after the Second World War.
"Sixty years is a short time in the greater perspective, so people should be able to change their habits once again," the architect said.
New York has initiatives to improve the look, feel and mobility of its streets, according to Sadik-Khan.
For instance, in the last three years, the city has installed 200 miles of bicycle lanes to boost safety for cyclists and pedestrians and has transformed old railway land into public spaces to improve the quality of life in residential and business districts.
"The response has been tremendous, and we hope to keep the momentum going by expanding it next year," Sadik-Khan said.
From 2008-2009 the city saw a 26 percent increase in bike commuting, and a recent survey in Times Square and Herald Square found that 93 percent said the plazas made the area a better place and one to which they wanted to return.
Gehl said that making cities better for pedestrians and cyclists is even smarter in poor, fast-growing developing countries and cities because it is cost-effective.
"It's a good solution for the climate, the economy and the poor," he said.
Though many officials want citizens on bikes for climate reasons, back in Copenhagen, Kristensen said: "Biking is just the easiest way to get around here."
($1=5.059 Danish Crown)
Thanks to WildSingapore for the alert!
Photo by Adrian Loo
My rear light, a fairly new Cateye TL-LD610, refused to work when batteries were once again inserted, but happily I had a Sigma Cuberider to take its place - while Singapore streets are quite well-lit, the bright, blinking red lights alert drivers to your presence.
Updated to include a few missing items and a comment about distance to kerb. I should really add side and front-views (have them somewhere) and update this further.
THREE accidents involving cyclists on Thursday have reopened a longstanding debate between motorists and cyclists over the issue of safe cycling on roads here.
A 35-year-old cyclist died after he was hit by a lorry in Bedok South Road.
In Tampines Street 81, a 64-year-old cyclist was seriously injured when he was involved in a collision with a lorry.
Another accident in Clemenceau Avenue saw a motorcyclist seriously injured after he was in a collision with a cyclist, who escaped with abrasions.
Police are investigating all three accidents. But the debate has already begun.
Motorists are frustrated with cyclists who they say road hog and switch lanes abruptly, often without regard for traffic behind them. The cyclists, however, say motorists are impatient and often drive too close to them and too fast, especially when overtaking.
In the first nine months of this year, there were 15 fatal accidents involving cyclists. There were 22 such fatal accidents each in 2007 and last year.
Former national cyclist Kenneth Tan, who cycles daily to his workplace in Thomson Road from his Woodlands home, said the hour-long ride is often dangerous.
A year ago, he was flung off his bicycle when the passenger door of a truck was suddenly opened as he was cycling past. He was warded for three days with serious injuries to his arm.
'The bus drivers are more considerate, but other drivers now tend to go faster and come very close when they overtake,' said Mr Tan, 42.
But marketing manager Tanya Tan, 34, said drivers were not always to blame.
She recalled an incident two weeks ago when a man in his 40s cycled on the centre lane of a three-lane road in Toa Payoh at less than 20kmh. 'All the cars had to slow down and there were several near misses,' said Ms Tan, who drives to work every day.
Under the Road Traffic (Bicycles) Rules, cyclists should ride close to the left-hand edge of the road so as not to obstruct vehicles.
In the first nine months of this year, the Traffic Police issued more than 1,300 summonses to cyclists flouting traffic rules, compared to 471 summonses for the whole of last year.
Most were fined for failing to ride in an orderly manner or cycling on footpaths. They were also fined for changing lanes without due care, failing to keep a proper lookout, and failing to give way to traffic with the right of way.
Many of the drivers and cyclists The Straits Times spoke to were also unclear about the traffic rules concerning bicycles. Several drivers said cyclists should get off the roads and ride on footpaths instead. But it is illegal for them to do so.
To ensure safety, several cyclists suggested that a cycling lane be introduced. Said Mr Adrian Mok of the Safe Cycling Task Force: 'We can mark out smaller lanes on existing roads or widen pedestrian paths for cycling.'
But a Land Transport Authority spokesman said that, given Singapore's land constraints and the need to optimise available land space to meet the needs of all road users and pedestrians, it was not feasible to provide dedicated lanes for bicycles on the road.
Currently, there are cycling tracks off the road in five towns - Tampines, Yishun, Sembawang, Pasir Ris and Taman Jurong.
Mr Tan Jin Thong, president of the National Safety Council of Singapore, wants to make it mandatory for cyclists to wear helmets and abide by bicycle rules. email@example.com
Additional reporting by Linus Lin
"Save lives by having separate lanes," letter by Daniel Chan. The Straits Times Forum page, 14 Dec 2009.
"LAST Saturday's report highlighting accidents involving cyclists ('3 accidents in a day: Cyclists concerned') once again brings the issue of safe cycling to the fore.
There were 15 fatal accidents involving cyclists in the first nine months of this year, and one wonders how many more fatal accidents there must be before the authorities sit up and take notice.
While cyclists do not threaten the safety of motorists, the lack of space for motorists to pass cyclists safely only adds to the frustration of driving. Also, a lack of policing has allowed some cyclists to flaunt traffic rules at their own whim and fancy.
Clearly, something must be done to accommodate the increase in numbers of both cars and cyclists on the roads. As the statutory board that spearheads land transport developments in Singapore, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) must take cognisance of both the safety of cyclists and the frustrations of motorists.
It is no longer tenable nor persuasive for the LTA to reiterate that Singapore's land constraints make it unfeasible to provide cycling lanes. Cities such as London and New York, which are as densely populated as Singapore, have successfully introduced cycling lanes. The benefits are obvious: Traffic flow will not be impeded by slow bicycles, while cyclists will be shielded from dangerous traffic. Other countries like France have made it illegal for cars to overtake cyclists without a gap of 1.5m.
The experiences of other countries make it clear that positive action can be taken to better accommodate both cyclists and motorists in Singapore. LTA's unwillingness to take action has frustrated all road users."
"Cyclist recalls close calls on the road," letter by James Wong. The Straits Times Forum page, 15 Dec 2009.
"I REFER to yesterday's letter by Mr Daniel Chan ('Save lives by having separate lanes'), regarding safety of cyclists on Singapore roads and the number of fatal accidents involving cyclists.
I am an avid cyclist who cycles once or twice a week. Last Saturday morning, I was almost run down by a taxi driver.
I was cycling along East Coast Road at 6.15am. Suddenly, a taxi travelling in the opposite direction turned right into my path to pick some passengers standing on my side of the road.
Had I not slowed down to avoid the taxi, I would have been knocked down. I confronted the taxi driver but instead of admitting his mistake, he challenged me to a fight, all the time shouting at me that I had no right to be on the road.
I have had a few close calls on the road and most of the time, taxi drivers have been the culprits. They stop suddenly to pick up a fare, make illegal U-turns, or cut two or three lanes to drop or pick up a passenger. Bus and truck drivers are the other bullies.
My bicycle has a bright flashing headlight and tail light. There is no way I cannot be noticed. It is just that most motorists feel cyclists do not belong on the road and have no right at intersections.
Many cyclists use Changi Coast Road on weekends. Although there are many speed regulation strips along this stretch, many motorists use this road to test the speed limit of their cars.
I hope the Traffic Police will not wait until more cyclists are killed before they install speed cameras there.
I also suggest that the Traffic Police and the Land Transport Authority put up more conspicuous signs to remind motorist to look out and give way to cyclists. Some signs are already there but they are not conspicuous enough.
Cyclists also share some of the blame. Some cycle at night without proper lights and do not follow the Highway Code. Traffic Police should make it mandatory for bicycles to have headlights and tail lights all the time, with a stiff penalty for failure."
"SINGAPORE - The deaths of several cyclists and bikers in the past two weeks has spurred a reminder from Traffic Police for road users to be vigilant.
On Saturday, two best friends died when their motorcycle was hit by a car along Bukit Batok Road. On Dec 10, a cyclist died after being hit by a lorry along Bedok South Road. The same day, another cyclist died after being hit by a lorry along Tampines Street 81.
Accidents involving cyclists and motorbike riders can result in dire consequences, Traffic Police said. The public is reminded to observe road safety including keeping left unless overtaking, slowing down when approaching a bend, not weaving in and out of traffic, and to always be alert.
Proper riding gear, preferably brightly-coloured attire, should always be worn and helmets must be strapped securely."
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
"Two wheels for a change," by Jeanette Wang. ST's Homeground, 01 Dec 2009.
We sit and read about nations and what they are or are not doing to help the situation. But what are each of us doing individually to contribute to positive change?
Sure, I've been making a conscientious effort to reduce, reuse and recycle: Take my own bag to the supermarket, resist printing unnecessary e-mails, collect plastic bottles for recycling.
But what more can I do?
That question led me to my decision to give up my car and commute by bicycle, at least until Christmas. That resolution began today. As I type this there is a bicycle parked in my cubicle and cycling clothing and shoes hanging under my desk.
It's not all about global warming, though. Cutting greenhouse gases can also be a boon to human health by reducing deaths from cancer, strokes and heart disease, according to a report by The Lancet journal published last week.
Walking and cycling more, and driving less are among the easiest ways people can lower the output of CO2 and methane gas that also curb the global disease burden, said the study. Other easy ways: switch to cleaner-burning stoves and reduce meat and dairy consumption.
Follow her blog over the next 24 days as she documents her experiences of bicycle commuting! Some of the comments from readers are helpful too. Link