Article by Francis Chu, Director of ISUDA BIKE SHARE and Co-founder of LovecyclingSG
I’m not trying to do the job of road engineer, but cycling on Singapore roads allows me to see opportunities which are not so obvious through the windscreen or from the pavement. I am genuinely curious if there is indeed no space left to make way for safer cycling in our neighborhood.
The picture is taken from Geylang East Avenue 2, a small street near my neighbourhood, surrounded by housing estates. Although nearby there are industrial blocks but there are hardly any “heavy industry” there. Most of the vehicle parked there are private cars or small vans. This is quite typical in many area in Singapore. Old industrial space being phased out to make rooms for the increasing housing demands. The need for wide roads for big lorries is also replaced by the need of the residents, most walk, cycle or drive in the area.
The road in the picture is 5.1 meters wide, 4.5 meters for the car lane and 60cm for the double yellow lines. From what I’ve observed in many other area, in residential area, 2.8 meter is sufficient for cars. Drivers tends to speed when the lane is too wide. So wide lanes makes the road more dangerous for non-motorist users. As a cyclist, I see potential to redraw the double yellow line to allow some space for the cyclist, at the same time it will help to moderate the car speed. After all, there are kids and elderlies, mothers with baby prams or shopping trolley. Cyclists, be it old or young, need to share the same stretch of road too. Car should never be driving fast in such area, may be a speed limit of 30km/h is appropriate. At slower speed, driving within a narrower lane is not an issue at all.
The picture on the left is the current situation, a wide lane, fast car and the cyclist has no space but have to ride just on the double yellow lane. As you can see, more than half of the yellow line space is blocked by drainage grills which can be slippery or even trap the bicycle wheels. On the right is the exact same road, nothing change but the double yellow lines shifted 60 cm further away from the curb. As a designer, I know the design of environment shape behaviour. The cyclist is now within a space that drivers normally won’t go in. So he is more relax and more confident to ride in a stable way. A frighten cyclist is unpredictable and which is more stressful for the driver too (if the drive has a heart not to hurt anyone). The sense of a narrower lane suggest to the drivers: “Drive carefully!” making it safer for all; motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.
So when people say there is no space on Singapore roads for bike lane, I will ask, have you go down and check?
I did, in fact three of us did: Teh Ching, AhSun and I. We took a measurement tape and visited different places to measure the roads. We found a lot more opportunities in different parts of Singapore. We plot them on a google map and you can take a look too: http://goo.gl/maps/j2vsN
Tips: all the non-artery roads with lanes more than 2.8 meter have potential to be narrow down to moderate car speed and to provide some extra space for cyclist.
More: lane width project
Media update: The New Paper: 2012-08-28
Media update: Straits Times: 2012-01-23