Expansion to cycling network in Singapore could be brought forward by 'a couple of years': Lam Pin Min

Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary cycling a 5km-long route in Ang Mo Kio on Dec 17, 2019. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Plans to achieve a threefold expansion in the cycling network before an original 2030 deadline could be brought forward, as the Government looks to improve infrastructure to facilitate active mobility.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said on Tuesday (Dec 17) that the new aim is to expand the network from 440km to about 1,300km a couple of years earlier than targeted, a move to address concerns among e-scooter users over the lack of usable space for their devices following a ban on footpaths.

"We are currently looking at the timeline, hopefully we'll be able to bring it forward by a couple of years," said Mr Lam, who added that the Government has to study the infrastructure and look at the possibility of reclaiming roads in order to create space for cycling paths.

Mr Lam had earlier announced that the network will be increased to 750km by 2025 and about 1,300km by 2030.

The move to expedite the plans comes amid concerns raised by e-scooter users about connectivity in Singapore. They are now restricted to using their devices on the 440km worth of cycling paths following a ban on e-scooter on footpaths from Nov 5.

Before the ban, they had access to 5,500km of footpaths.

Some e-scooter users said that the original timeline was too far ahead to make a tangible difference.

Dr Lam, who was at an event to view the active mobility infrastructure in Ang Mo Kio, told journalists that the authorities are working with grassroots advisers in the various town councils to study how to speed up the conversions of footpaths into shared paths.

Dr Lam said: "The reason why we are doing this (expediting the plans) is because with the announcement of the ban of e-scooters on footpaths, the connectivity for active mobility users has been affected.

"I think (the footpath ban) is a necessary step to bring back safety to footpaths, but at the same time we are also working at increasing the connectivity and improving the active mobility infrastructure so that reasonable connectivity can be realised."

From next year, those caught riding e-scooters on footpaths can be fined up to $2,000, jailed for up to three months or both.

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The Land Transport Authority said in an update earlier this month that it had issued 3,444 warnings to riders since the ban started.

There has been a "palpable difference" in terms of safety on footpaths since the e-scooter footpath ban kicked in, with pedestrians now likely to feel much safer, Dr Lam said.

On Tuesday, he cycled a 5km-long route in Ang Mo Kio, together with Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, fellow Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary and Active Mobility Advisory Panel chairman Faishal Ibrahim.

Ang Mo Kio was designated as a Walking and Cycling Town in 2014, with features implemented to let pedestrians and active mobility users use paths safely.

There will be 20km worth of cycling paths in Ang Mo Kio by 2022, which would make the network one of the longest in residential towns in Singapore.

Initiatives that have been introduced there include widened zebra crossings, bicycle crossings and also a new digital display counter that shows the number of pedestrians and cyclists on the paths along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3.

Dr Lam said: "Ang Mo Kio town will be the role model for the different towns in Singapore because of the infrastructure we are currently building to promote active mobility.

"Hopefully we will be able to build more conducive cycling paths, active mobility infrastructure for Singaporeans in every town in Singapore."

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