Gear up for more heartland cycling facilities

People cycling on a bike path between Tampines Street 83 and 82.
People cycling on a bike path between Tampines Street 83 and 82.PHOTO: ST FILE

Links to 12 MRT stations being built; LTA also calling tender to build facilities in five existing cycling towns

Efforts to encourage people to ditch their cars and get on their bikes are being kicked into high gear.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday announced a raft of upcoming cycling infrastructure projects in the heartland.

Among other initiatives, it is building cycling links to 12 MRT stations around the island while improving cycling infrastructure in existing cycling towns.

Next week, it will call a tender to build cycling facilities - wheeling ramps on overhead bridges, bicycle parking spaces and dedicated signalised crossings for cyclists - in five existing cycling towns.

These towns are Tampines, Pasir Ris, Yishun, Sembawang and Taman Jurong.

The existing cycling network in Taman Jurong, which currently spans 5.4km, will also be doubled to 10km - connecting residents to the town hub, Lakeside MRT station and the neighbouring Jurong Lake District.

"With these enhancements, cyclists will be able to ride safely and seamlessly through the neighbourhoods and to amenities nearby," said the LTA in a media statement.

Work on these projects will begin next year and is expected to be completed by 2020, said the LTA.

Experts said these efforts are a continuation of Singapore's push to go car-lite.

It is part of a bigger goal to reduce reliance on private vehicles and encourage active mobility transport modes such as cycling and the use of mobility devices such as e-scooters - particularly in the first and last miles of commutes.

Under the National Cycling Plan, the authorities will build 700km of cycling paths by 2030 - these will include cycling networks in all Housing Board towns.

Yesterday, the LTA also said it has been building cycling links to connect 12 MRT stations to the park connector network - the most extensive cycling network on the island at the moment.

The links will "bridge the first and last mile connections to the MRT stations", with dedicated lanes for cyclists and pedestrians.

Seven of these links - at areas including Woodlands, Bishan and Dakota - have already been completed. While the remaining five, such as in Sengkang, Clementi and Hougang, will be finished later this year.

Cycling advocate Francis Chu, co-founder of cycling group Love Cycling SG, felt that the improvements will make it easier for people to ride to MRT stations.

"Things like bicycle parking (spaces) are end-of-trip facilities, and are part and parcel of a complete solution - you need to be able to park your bike when you ride to the station," he said.

But Tampines resident Joey Ong, 25, felt that education efforts should be ramped up to tell people how to use the new infrastructure, pointing out that he often sees pedestrians on the bike paths and existing bicycle crossings.

"They need to create more public awareness so people know how these facilities work," said Mr Ong.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2016, with the headline 'Gear up for more heartland cycling facilities'. Print Edition | Subscribe