HDB considers easier carpark access for cyclists

Carparks equipped with bollards and electronic arms that span the length of a lane to stop motorcyclists from slipping in and out without paying can cause blockage for cyclists. Suggestions from a resident to overcome this problem include waiving par
Carparks equipped with bollards and electronic arms that span the length of a lane to stop motorcyclists from slipping in and out without paying can cause blockage for cyclists. Suggestions from a resident to overcome this problem include waiving parking fees for motorcyclists and constructing a specially designed by-pass for cyclists.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

HDB considers shortening electronic gantry arms, removing bollards which block bicycles

Cyclists might soon not have to dismount and hoist their bikes over the kerb when trying to enter carparks with electronic gantries.

The Housing Board (HDB) is looking at whether its carparks, installed with its Electronic Parking System (EPS), can be made more accessible for cyclists.

This comes after it received feedback from Mr Francis Chu, the co-founder of cycling group Love Cycling SG.

The avid cycling enthusiast, whose group numbers more than 12,000 members, had written to the HDB in September after noticing that carparks near his Geylang East home were going electronic.

Many of these carparks are equipped with electronic arms and bollards (small pillars) that span the length of a lane to stop motorcyclists from slipping in and out.

"The gantries are to stop motorcyclists from leaving carparks without paying but I think they unintentionally also cause blockage for cyclists," Mr Chu told The Sunday Times.

Other cyclists The Sunday Times spoke to agreed.

Retiree Kwan Jin Bao, 68, said it was tiring for elderly cyclists to hoist their bikes up and down the pavement.

"It's OK if the bicycle is empty, but if I am coming back from the market with things, I can't lift my bike up," said Mr Kwan.

General worker Anthony Tan, 60, said: "It's definitely inconvenient, but it's worse for old people on motorised wheelchairs - how are they going to get up the kerb?"

Both men live at the HDB estate in Toa Payoh Lorong 1, where electronic parking was installed about a month ago.

The system was first implemented in HDB carparks in 2004 - it would have been installed at about half of the HDB's 1,800 carparks by the middle of this year.

When contacted, an HDB spokesman confirmed that it has received feedback from Mr Chu.

"Our officers have contacted him to discuss the solutions that he has proposed," said the spokesman.

Mr Chu said he gave five suggestions to the HDB.

These ranged from the simple - waiving parking fees for motorcyclists entirely - to those a little more complicated, such as constructing a specially designed by-pass for cyclists.

Mr Chu said an HDB employee called him last week to say they were considering shortening the electronic gantry arms and removing the bollards.

"They would rely on CCTV cameras to catch errant motorcyclists," said Mr Chu.

SIM University adjunct associate professor Park Byung Joon said these improvements might seem small, but they are an important part of cycling infrastructure.

"These kinds of little inconveniences, especially at the start and end of journeys, can be a big discouragement for people to cycle.

"In the end, we have to see the big picture; do we want to encourage Singaporeans to cycle more or make sure all motorcyclists pay their parking fees?" he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 27, 2015, with the headline 'Easier carpark access for cyclists soon?'. Print Edition | Subscribe