Cyclist who lost an arm takes part in car-free weekend as a superhero

Cyclists wearing superhero costumes, including Madam Mow Lai Lin (in red helmet), pose for photos at the Car-Free Weekend near the National Gallery Singapore on Oct 27, 2019.
Cyclists wearing superhero costumes, including Madam Mow Lai Lin (in red helmet), pose for photos at the Car-Free Weekend near the National Gallery Singapore on Oct 27, 2019.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - It had always been a childhood dream of avid cyclist Mow Lai Lin, 50, to don a superhero costume.

So she wanted to organise a group cycling event last year where people could dress up as their favourite superhero during a car-free Sunday.

But before she could do so, she had an accident while cycling and lost her left arm. She now wears a replacement metal arm.

The accident, which happened along Tanah Merah Coast Road in January last year, however, did not stop Madam Mow, who runs a spa business, from fulfilling her childhood wish.

She and 12 other cyclists turned up in full superhero gear and cycled from Stadium MRT to Marina Bay Sands to the Padang on Sunday (Oct 27) during a car-free weekend.

"I use my right hand to grip the handlebar and lean my metal arm on the bar. I decided to shorten my red cape so it won't get tangled up with the wheel. Safety is very important for me now," said Madam Mow, affectionately known as Madam Miao to her cyclist friends.

Madam Mow, who started cycling a few months ago, has cycled at seven or eight car-free events so far.

Sunday was the culmination of the fourth run of Car-Free Weekend, where roads in the Telok Ayer conservation area, civic district and central business district were closed for members of the public to enjoy various activities.

Singapore's first Car-Free Weekend event took place last year. It was an expansion of Car-Free Sunday events, which started in 2016 in line with the Republic's car-lite initiatives.

 

To let more people experience parts of the city centre unclogged by traffic, it was extended to three days last year.

Car-free days are gaining popularity globally, with cities like Jakarta and Paris holding such events regularly as part of efforts to reduce congestion and improve air quality.

Besides individuals organising their own car-free gatherings, such as Madam Mow's, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and other agencies also organise activities for the public.

On Friday, for instance, a section of Amoy Street was turned into a makeshift art space where people observed how local artists recycle and transform old rattan chairs into other types of furniture.

On Saturday, National Parks Board organised a festival at the Esplanade Park, Connaught Drive and Empress Lawn where there was a kid's play zone with an outdoor ball pit and an inflatable play area.

Free pet health checks and microchipping services were also provided.

On Sunday, the elderly also enjoyed having the "wind in their hair" experience by taking trishaw rides powered by volunteers at St Andrew's Road.

Those in the area would also have seen a man riding an extremely tall bicycle.

Artist Hafiz Osman, 40, made the bike four years ago for an art project with the help of some residents from Joo Chiat. The 2.5m-high bike was welded together from two bicycle frames. It took some skill for Mr Osman to get on to a bicycle that high, and he did it by pushing himself up from one pedal.

"I've been on a tall bike in Paris, there isn't one in Singapore as far as I know. So I thought the bike would be a fun way to bring people together," said Mr Osman, who was invited by the Asian Civilisations Museum to cycle around the Padang and Telok Ayer area.

"I think car-free days give families and friends a very good opportunity to use the space in the CBD area that is not normally available."