Clementi to CBD in 62 minutes: My head's ringing after cycling to work

SINGAPORE - Thirty-five - that's the number of times I rung my bell in one morning, to alert pedestrians that I was behind them while cycling along footpaths on my way to "work".

My task was simple: Get from Clementi Ave 4 to my "workplace" - for the sake of this exercise, at least - in the URA Centre at Maxwell Place, in the central business district, as quick as I could.

Meanwhile, colleagues from The Sunday Times would take a taxi, and the bus and train, to try and beat me there.

Footpaths - which cyclists now have an official right to ride on, thanks to the Active Mobility Bill passed last week - made up only 6.2km of my 13.2km journey, but they were narrow and uneven.

Between the Buona Vista MRT station and the Alexandra Park Connector, this involved crawling my way through a total of eight bus stops, often chock-full of pedestrians.

In the city area along South Bridge Road, it also meant gingerly wheeling my way through narrow five-foot ways.

On a bike, trying to get to work on time just like everybody else, this was a frustrating and slow experience - I could only manage an average speed of 10.2kmh on these footpaths.

On the bright side, most of my journey was done on the Ulu Pandan and Alexandra Park Connectors - where there was ample space, and I needed to ring my bell only six times.

These wide, leafy cycling paths are part of the Park Connector Network. They were first conceptualised in 1987 as ways to link up parks on the island, but as many of them follow canals and rivers that eventually empty into the Marina Basin, that meant they led to the CBD as well.

Over time, cyclists began to use them as actual commuting routes.

If I could commute entirely on these park connectors, it would make riding to work a breeze.

In all, it took me 62 minutes to get to work, 12 minutes slower than my colleagues taking the bus and train.

But if the authorities find some way to join up both park connectors and make the journey seamless, I am confident of slashing 10 minutes off that time.

Doing so will also give people living in the west a direct trunk route to cycle all the way into the heart of the city - and without having to ring that bike bell so many times.