Mr Khaw Boon Wan, Minister of National Development, who had tried cycling from home to work, highlights that this mode of transportation is tough because existing public infrastructure does not support it.
There is certainly a free “Bicycle Parking Only” all day long here at Togoparts.com
Minister of National Development, Mr Khaw Boon Wan shared his experience of cycling to work from home and how he found it challenging because the existing public infrastructure does not support it. His comments came after a press conference held yesterday (Thursday, 31st Jan) on the government’s White Paper Population which projects a population of 6.9million by 2030 where he assured Singaporeans that the government is looking into catering for the larger population and raising the quality of life. One of the areas that the government is looking to improve is to alleviate the increasing congestions on the road and public transport by making the island more cycle friendly to encourage people to cycle to work.
While I applaud the move and consistent efforts (though somewhat slow) to make the island more cycle friendly, there is a lot more than just building park connectors and incorporating bicycle lanes to make the island more cycle friendly.
Some of the existing park connectors do not connect that well to each other unlike the newer estates and efforts can be channelled into closing some of the gaps on these. At the same time, I do not buy into the argument that bicycle lanes on the roads are unfeasible in Singapore because roads are already congested with automobiles and there is no room to further accommodate bicycles when there are good examples of bicycling cities in the world such as Netherlands and Germany.
Bicycle traffic in Holland (1980s-1990s)
While detractors may cite negative examples such as New York City (a bustling metropolis similar to ours), a point to note is that New York Mayor Peter Bloomberg’s attempt to change the city streetscape by adding bicycle lanes onto the streets previously dominated by cars only started 6-7 years ago unlike nations like Netherlands and Germany where the bicycling culture has been ingrained for years and survived into the country’s landscape even as the automobiles pervaded our lives in the last century. In The Guardian Bike Blog’s hilarious article on “How to stop ‘salmoning’, scourge of NYC’s bike lanes” Matt Seaton highlighted that one of the main reasons why the New York bike lanes are not taking off that well is probably a result of a combination of bad planning and non-compliant cyclists going against traffic whom he calls “salmoners” (after the salmon for its uncanny ability to swim upstream against the water currents).
Bicycle lanes in New York
Social mindsets towards cycling
While the introduction of public infrastructure can help to get things off the ground, the existing social landscape needs to move towards embracing the cycling culture as well. A big factor that would encourage Singaporeans to cycle to work rest upon the shoulders of employers – are there facilities for bicycle parking, showering etc.
Another aspect of changing mentality and mind sets that has been on-going for the longest time is that of cyclists and motorists on the road – cyclists needs to abide by the traffic rules and not pose as a danger to others and motorists themselves need to wake up to the fact that roads are a public good to be shared and not only entitled to those who pay road taxes. One of the biggest factors that prevent people from cycling especially during the bustling work hours is the issue of safety. Catering to the needs of cyclists should be incorporated into existing driving practical and theory tests to set the right mentality for road motorist. This is something which is already being done in the UK. On the other end of the spectrum, the government can also work with various bodies such as the Safe Cycling Task Force (SCTF), “See and be Seen” safe night cycling initiative and Singapore Cycling Federation etc to promote more responsible behaviour from cyclists.
"Will Singaporeans cycle to work?"