Monday, October 24, 2011

Check out mrbrown's Quick Guide to Bicycle Commuting in Singapore

The inimitable blogger and podcaster, Mr Brown, took a break from his usual satire to bring you his "Quick Guide to Bicycle Commuting in Singapore".

It is from 2008 but I only just noticed it. And I don't think we ever linked to it from here.  

It is excellent. Go check it out.

Friday, October 14, 2011

SEC calls for a more holistic transport strategy encouraging behavioural change

"11 recommendations to tackle climate change," by Esther Ng. Today, 14 Oct 2011.

Singapore - Free public transport during certain hours, quarterly food, electricity and water rationing, and farmers' markets in housing estates are some recommendations the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) has made to NCCS 2012, the National Climate Change Secretariat's public consultation exercise.

Top on the list of its 11 recommendations is a call for a more holistic transport strategy which encourages "behavioural change as a longer-term solution".

For instance, schools could increase "bicycle parking areas" and get students living nearby to ride to school instead of having their parents drop them off.

Bicycle racks can be installed on public buses, so that people who wish to cycle to work, but live too far from their workplace, can split their commute between bicycle and bus routes.

The Greater Richmond Transit in the United States and bike-sharing schemes in London and Dublin are some successful examples, the council noted.

Free public rides on public transport during peak hours on weekdays or one weekend a month could encourage more people to take public transport.

Said the SEC's executive director Jose Raymond: "Singapore needs a strategy to balance the needs of a growing population with cost effectiveness and environmental sustainability. This balance cannot be achieved simply by growing public transport infrastructure or by continuing to tax vehicle owners heavily."

The SEC said air-conditioning bus interchanges and hawker centres was "unnecessary" and "contributes to avoidable energy wastage" and called on the Government to consider "alternative measures" to cool down public spaces.

With climate change affecting food, energy and water security, the council recommended quarterly food, electricity and water rationing for schools, offices and households. The intent is to "encourage a greater understanding of the energy-intensive and expensive processes that bring food, water and energy ... and that these scarce resources should not be taken for granted".

Additionally, farmers' markets and produce from rooftop gardens in public housing estates will enhance Singapore's food security and reduce the Republic's carbon footprint from food imports.

You can submit feedback to the National Climate Change Secretariat at their webpage.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Negative versus positive bicycle advocacy

Our previous post stumbled into a raging debate between two contrasting ways of promoting bicycle safety.

One approach to bicycle safety urges us to protect ourselves. This often means promoting helmets and high visibility clothing. Although it often calls for infrastructure, it tends to be pessimistic about the chances of persuading governments to build much. It therefore tends to focus on safety education for cyclists themselves. The info-graphic in the last post was an example from that tradition.

Around the world, a radically different approach to bicycle advocacy and planning has recently become prominent. Followers of this approach emphasise creating a safe environment for cycling. They see calls for cyclists to protect themselves as counterproductive because they discourage cycling by making it seem even more risky than it really is.

This approach builds on the successes in several European countries where cycling has been made extremely safe in many European cities despite very little use of helmets or high-viz clothing. It also argues that there is safety in numbers - the more people cycle, the lower the risk for each individual cyclist. It argues that cycling should be treated as an everyday, no-fuss activity done by ordinary people of all ages and abilities. ThomasK's comment on Siva's post reflects this alternative approach.

I can understand the urge to warn about danger. I myself usually do wear a helmet when I cycle. But I am convinced that the positive approach is the better way to advocate for bicycles as transport over the long term.

Excellent sources of information on this approach include, the Copenhagenize blog, the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain, and David Hembrow's blog A view from the cycle path. Here is a wonderful example of extremely positive bicycle advocacy from the new Dutch Cycling Embassy,

We should work to make cycling so safe that we have no need for helmets or reflective vests. This requires serious infrastructure, which requires serious investment (but still a tiny drop in the ocean compared with roads and mass transit investments). This approach is the only one that has successfully resulted in dramatic increases in both bicycle use and bicycle safety.