A smoother ride ahead for cyclists

On Sunday, Singapore's car-lite vision was one step closer to becoming a reality, as plans for a cycling network radiating from the heart of the city were announced by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

The proposed central area cycling network will have bicycle paths to link Marina Bay to the heartland, and also improve last-mile connectivity in the city centre for train commuters.

The new network is set to improve the riding environment in an area that is currently not friendly to cyclists.

To create the cycling network, vehicular lanes are being reclaimed for pedestrian and cycling use in places such as Bencoolen Street, Coleman Street and Armenian Street.

News of the new network was coupled with the announcement that foldable bicycles and personal mobility devices will now be allowed on trains and buses here all day.

On top of that, what could help get the plan into gear is the increasing popularity of bike sharing, which makes cycling in the city more feasible as it removes the need to lug a bicycle around.

Getting around in the heartland on two wheels will also become much easier with measures to improve cycling infrastructure.

Earlier this month, the LTA awarded an $11.6 million contract to build cycling facilities - such as wheeling ramps on overhead bridges, bicycle parking spaces and dedicated signalised crossings for cyclists - in five cycling towns: Tampines, Pasir Ris, Yishun, Sembawang and Taman Jurong.

Though cycling is still largely viewed as a leisure activity in Singapore, measures such as these are likely to increase its attractiveness as a form of transport, particularly for last-mile commutes.

By 2030, when the cycling network is expected to stretch more than 700km islandwide, Singapore may join the ranks of cities such as Copenhagen in Denmark or Amsterdam in Holland where more than half of the population cycle every day.

Zhaki Abdullah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2017, with the headline 'A smoother ride ahead for cyclists'. Subscribe