Pedal power ruled in Singapore in the 1960s with 268,000 bicycles on the road, compared to 63,000 cars and 19,000 motorcycles. Within a decade, that picture changed dramatically as more sought cars and motorcycles to get around. After about 50 years of being sidelined, will cycling come full circle as more sustainable ways of enhancing urban mobility are explored?
The National Cycling Plan here is bringing together a number of agencies like LTA, URA, NParks, HDB, PUB and SportSG to deliver "a cyclist-friendly, well-connected network providing safe and healthy cycling for all", as articulated in the Land Transport Master Plan.
Cycling enthusiasts have reason to be heady with optimism as this will run widely within all HDB towns over the long term and connect these and parks seamlessly. Marina Bay and Jurong Lake District aim to provide a web of cycling paths, and a cycling track has been proposed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for the Rail Corridor.
Notwithstanding the progressive roll-out of extensive cycle tracks, cynics are not wrong to say that Singapore still has a long way to go to join the ranks of the best bike-friendly cities like Amsterdam and Bruges. There's more to becoming a cycling nation than having a comprehensive network, safe and separate tracks, well- designed intersections, bike sharing and parking facilities, and adequate traffic calming measures, important as these are. What also matters are rules of etiquette observed by cyclists as well as others sharing public spaces, respect for one another's safety and well-being, and mutual patience to make the cycling experience pleasant for all. When consideration for others while moving, stopping and parking is second nature to those on wheels, a cycling culture might develop that's worthy of the promising infrastructure being developed.