Cycling can be viable transport mode: Khaw

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan says more should be done to make cycling more than just a recreational pursuit.
National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan says more should be done to make cycling more than just a recreational pursuit. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Cycling should not be just a recreational pursuit, but also a viable transport option for short trips around Singapore, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday.

He wrote on his blog that the Government wants Singaporeans to be able to cycle "to the supermarket, coffee shop, hawker centre or the nearest MRT station".

"To do so, we must make such trips safe and pleasant," he said. "Cities are increasingly finding it important to make themselves friendly to pedestrians and cyclists."

Mr Khaw noted that Singapore is lagging "way behind" cities such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where cycling is part of the "normal way of life".

He praised both European capitals as good examples of cities with "active mobility", where walking and cycling make up over half of all modes of transport.

In contrast, cycling makes up just 1 per cent to 2 per cent of transport modes here, he noted.

Singapore's National Cycling Plan envisions a 700km cycling network by 2030, within, as well as between, neighbourhoods.

By next year, 100km of cycling paths will be built in Yishun, Punggol and Bedok. Eventually, said Mr Khaw, all 26 Housing Board towns will have cycling paths connecting homes to neighbourhood centres and MRT stations.

Singapore is also exploring bicycle-sharing schemes and increasing safe-cycling education initiatives, such as the Safe Cycling Programme for Youth for secondary school students.

Mr Khaw said Singapore has always embraced active mobility, with its extensive Park Connector Network (PCN), pavements and sheltered walkways being examples of this.

The PCN, he said, lets people walk, jog or cycle safely close to greenery. The city itself is "quite walkable", he added.

When contacted, Mr Francis Chu, co-founder of cycling group LoveCyclingSg, said more cyclists are keen to use their bicycles for short daily commutes.

But roads in town centres can be unsafe and intimidating for inexperienced riders, he said.

As for non-cyclists such as motorists, it may be difficult to motivate them to switch to bicycles as driving often gets them to their destinations faster, he said.

"But with improvement of the cycling network, more and more people will start to consider cycling as a serious mode of transport."

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