Why It Matters

Building a pro-cycling city

When the Sports Hub opened two years ago, cyclists were befuddled by the total absence of bicycle racks on the premises.

Here was a $1.33 billion state-of-the-art sports facility that was issuing warnings to cyclists who had no choice but to park their bicycles illegally.

It took some months, after media reports brought the irony of the situation to light, for bicycle parking to be provided on the 35ha complex.

The new Walking and Cycling Plan (WCP) that building developers have to submit will prevent future situations like this.

Announced earlier this week by the Land Transport and Urban Redevelopment authorities, the plan will require developers to design facilities for cyclists and pedestrians - including bicycle parking, showers and lockers - from the get-go.

Buildings will also have to be designed with safe and convenient access for cyclists and pedestrians.

Requiring the WCP at an early stage will mean the needs of these users will be taken into consideration from the start, and not later as an afterthought.

It is always harder and more expensive to retrofit infrastructure like this after construction.

The new requirements are part of an effort to make active modes of transport - such as cycling and walking - more attractive options.

They are, of course, part of a larger national effort to go car-lite.

The plans are significant if Singapore is to encourage more people to commute by bicycle - at the moment cycling makes up only between 1 and 2 per cent of all trips. This has to be much higher for Singapore's car-lite push to work.

Experts say it is the little inconveniences at the start and end of journeys that can really discourage people from cycling. Little inconveniences like being blocked by mechanised carpark gantries, the lack of shower facilities at the destination, and having no place to park safely.

If the WCP can eliminate some of these inconveniences, it could make all the difference and push up the proportion of pedal-powered trips.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2016, with the headline 'Building a pro-cycling city'. Print Edition | Subscribe