A new cyclists' haven

Cycling lanes to be built in tandem with new roads for clean commuting

MOVE over Tampines. Punggol may soon be the first housing estate with cycling lanes built in tandem with new roads.

The Housing Board has proposed the move as part of the estate's next phase of development in order to encourage clean commuting and improve connectivity.

At the moment, Tampines is Singapore's only cycling town. Unlike the plans for Punggol, its bike lanes were not built along with the road but were retrofitted.

Currently, Punggol MRT station and the LRT rail system serve residents in the young estate, which sees many adult and child cyclists hitting the pavements.

The proposals, along with other eco-friendly efforts, such as more green spaces, will be on display at HDB Hub in Toa Payoh, in an exhibition which aims to gather public feedback from today until Oct28.

Cyclists who spoke to The Straits Times said this was a good chance for Punggol to be a cycling blueprint for other new towns.

"If you have a blank canvas, then do it right from the start," said Dr Paul Barter, cyclist and urban transport policy scholar at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. He advised following international standards, such as having one continuous cycling track that does not require riders to dismount.

"It is easier to do a good job if you are starting from scratch," he said, "so you don't have to deal with strange situations such as bus stops or stairwells along the way. And it's also cheaper than having to redo it later."

Other avid cyclists living in Punggol hope new cycling lanes will solve the problems they currently face.

"Sometimes, pedestrians can't seem to hear the bell on my bicycle," said teacher Dawn Ling, 32, who cycles once a week to her school in Pasir Ris. "I have to come to a complete stop on the pavement, posing some danger to other cyclists and to pedestrians.

"Right now, the traffic is not that heavy but given the numerous housing developments in Punggol, traffic will definitely be expected to increase sharply."

Said Mr Dean Tan, 45, founder of cycling group Punggol Night Riders, which meets every Friday: "There is still a long way to go to improve the situation.

"There was a driver who told me to get off the road because I don't pay road tax," he said. He hopes cycling tracks will help drivers realise that cyclists have shared ownership of the roads.

stgoh@sph.com.sg