Category Archives: daily commute

AMK cycling town phase 1 + Round island Route

July 9, 2016 Singapore

Singapore is one more step closer to become a bicycle friendly city. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced two important cycling infrastructure that will make cycling in Singapore easier, safer and more enjoyable:

Artist impression of Round Island Route  Photo: NPark

Artist impression of Round Island Route Photo: NPark

Short video showing the RIR (Source: NPark)

1. Round Island Route (ST news)

In the early Saturday morning, PM Lee planted a tree at the Sengkang Riverside Park, commemorating the start of phase one of the Round Island Route (RIR), an idea conceptualised in 2011. Construction work on the first 60km of a 150km continuous green trail that will go around Singapore will start at the end of the year. This is an ambitious project to enhance connectivity and create new recreational spaces for cyclists and park goers all around Singapore.

2. AMK model cycling town (ST news)

Some of the innovative features to increase the safety of all users. Video: URA

A slip road was removed at the junction of Ang Mo Kio Avenues 1 and 3 to make way for a cycling path. PHOTO: LTA

A slip road was removed at the junction of Ang Mo Kio Avenues 1 and 3 to make way for a cycling path. PHOTO: LTA

Later in the morning, after riding through a new 4km “red-carpet” cycling path (where the carpet is being maintained by carpet cleaning fargo), PM Lee announced the completion of the first phase of AMK Cycling town network. This officially initiated the transformation of Ang Mo Kio into a model cycling and walking town. Estimated by 2019, a total of 20km of cycling paths will be completed to connect to most parts of AMK town. Innovative ideas including the distinctive red-colour paths, safer crossing and elevated share path under the MRT viaduct are to be piloted in AMK. If all are good, future cycling town will adopt the innovative ideas.

Perhaps more important is to see the number of senior level politicians and government agents (URA, LTA, NPark, HDB, Finance) who are actively involved on stage or behind the scene. This is a clear sign showing that there is strong alignment within the government to realise the car-lite vision.

Facebook post by PM Lee Hsien Loong.
Facebook post by LTA
Facebook post about RIR in LoveCyclingSG
Facebook post about AMK cycling town in LoveCyclingSG

Bike lanes in Singapore, Ya or Nay?

STA survey about Bike Lanes

STA survey about Bike Lanes

I was surprised to see my Photoshopped photo appear on the Facebook page of STA. I’m even more delighted to learn that they are conducting a survey to get public views about bicycle lanes on Singapore roads.
Here is the question they posted:

Bicycle lanes in Singapore, Ya or Nay? Motorist seems to have a very negative view on cyclists on the road why is that so? Share your view with us?

3 lucky comments will be selected to win a mystery prize each. Entries close on Friday, 13/2/2015, 12 pm.

However, the most enlightening part are the views expressed by many people, and supported by the most “Likes” for example:

Woon Taiwoon: Cycling can help reduce traffic jam. If you look around you when u drive, how many cars are vacant with only drivers. Imagine when 10 percent of the car drivers convert to cycling. Thats alot of cars OUT OFF the roads.

Now I know cycling as a form of commuting might sound crazy but it is really possible. If there are bike lanes, I am very sure many will chose this eco friendly and happier alternative.

Joanna Peck: personally, I think an excellent first step would be to show on the bus lanes that bicycles are allowed there. This would take minimal effort on the part of authorities to implement.

for the future, I’d love to see a cycling lane network established in Singapore. Where people can cycle from place to place with ease instead of navigating a hodgepodge mixture of road, PCN and pavements.

Brenda Woo: Yes, we need a bicycle lane in Singapore! Whether it’s on the road or side of the road as long as it makes every road users safe while commuting. Motorists may have a negative view of cyclists on road largely because there isn’t a dedicated lane for bicycles and sometimes for the cyclists’ own safety they have to take a whole lane, esp. at turning junctions… If everyone shares the road and everyone knows what to expect, there can be mutual respect amongst all commuters.

Petia Garmadon: More bicycles less cars no jams.

Francis Chu: This particular photo is showing that under current traffic rules, bicycle is allowed on Bus Lanes:…/road…/road-regulations.html
I think putting a bicycle sign on Bus Lane is a very good start for the following reasons:
1) Some motorists saw cyclists on bus lane and is upset that the cyclist is “breaking the law again” but in fact that’s not true.
2) Some cyclists though they are not supposed to ride on bus lane and decided to ride on the second lane, which is more dangerous and slows down the cars there.
3) Bus drivers todays are properly trained on how to share the road with cyclists.
Putting down a bicycle sign on Bus lane does not affect current rules and is an effective start to make cycling more visible as a mode of transport.

There naturally some are not too sure about having bike lanes on Singapore roads:

Keith Dot Lee: I am not cycling on the road because our road width did not cater for bicycle. Hence a danger to cycle on road. Further, the law is not in favor of the cyclist. So the ball is with LTA. Cater for it first.

But Keith is quickly convinced by the following responses:

Dennis LH Cheong: Actually, after having some cycling in some other cities (with longer history), you should find that our (non ancient) roads have relatively wide left lane catered for buses. This features, which I didn’t know until recently, actually allowed me to have been bicycle commuting since 1996.
Francis Chu: We actually measured ~ 100 road width and we found more than 70% of the roads are wide enough to cater for a 1.2-1.6 meter bike lane.
Keith Dot Lee: Oh I see. Thks for sharing.

And fianlly there are a few nay sayer:

Matthew Lim: nay!!! have you seen the traffic in the bus lanes. its likely to be a road hazard. cars, cyclists and busses are not meant to share the same lane.

To find out what the responses Matthew received? check the STA page here:

Safe cycling in Tokyo, culture or infrastructure?

I visited Tokyo recently, took the opportunity to cycle there. Riding through Tokyo city centre feels quite different compared to Singapore. It feels safe! The same exercise could be deadly, especially for a traveller who is not familiar with the driving culture in Singapore. I’m not suggesting Singapore drivers are maniac, in fact, given the chance, many are very polite and courteous. However sometime they have to endanger others in order to be safe. The design of the road greatly affected their choice of action.

Bicycle users in Tokyo includes all walks of life. Male & female, young & elderly, mothers and kids, workers and office ladies.

Bicycle users in Tokyo includes all walks of life. Male & female, young & elderly, mothers and kids, workers and office ladies.

Despite there are many cars and I have to share the roads, I feel drivers in Tokyo are more careful when they need to overtake cyclists. They give cyclists plenty of room or they will slow down and overtake carefully. The number of people on bicycle is much more than I expected. All walks of life, including office workers, students, old people and even mothers with their kids (one front, one back) on bicycles. There is something in Japan that makes cycling easy and safe. I was reflecting my experience in the Netherlands many years back, it was quite different from the Dutch cycling experience, although both are safe. One of my good friend LCH suggested:

– Dutch cycling is a culture of the mind i.e. a result of rational thinking (typical Dutch) that lead to investments in cycle-infrastructure
– Japan cycling is a probably more of the heart, respect for each other as part of total society inherent in the deep rooted Japanese value system.

There is no doubt that, respecting each others is a core value system in Japan. I can understand how it contributed to road safety. However, is this “culture of respect” the only factor for the safety I experienced when riding in Tokyo?

40 km speed limit is very common in Tokyo. Smaller road are often limit to 30 or 20 km per hour.

40 km speed limit is very common in Tokyo. Smaller road are often limit to 30 or 20 km per hour.

Apart from riding a bicycle, I had the opportunity to sit in a car, next to the driver, my friend Tsuneki San, who drove me to his office during a morning peak hour. He said that most of the roads in Tokyo are limited to driving speed of 40 km. Only a few main roads are 50 km. Expressways are 80 km. When I cycled through the heart of Tokyo, I passed through many smaller streets with 30 km and 20 km clearly marked on the road. It suddenly daunt on me that, Tokyo, despite being one of the biggest city in the world, is fairly free from loud traffic noise. The overall slower speed must be the key reason for the relatively quiet and calm atmosphere.

Safe junction design in Tokyo prepares drivers to slow down, and provides safe space to "PAUSE and WAIT".

Safe junction design in Tokyo prepares drivers to slow down, and provides safe space to “PAUSE and WAIT”.

I also noticed that Tsuneki San slowed down whenever he drove passed a junction. This greatly enhanced his ability to stop in case of any emergency. Likewise, pedestrians and cyclists who approach the junction can see our car clearly. I noticed a number of visual element may contribute to the “calming effect” around the traffic junctions.
(1) Dotted lines define the lanes changed to solid lines, about 30 meters before a junction. This helps to prepare the driver to slow down.
(2) Sometimes the lanes narrow down a bit in order to add a right turning lane. Driving within narrower lanes require more care and has to be slower.
(3) The zebra crossing is visually bold and striking. The “STOP” line is about a car’s length away from the actual zebra crossing.

Lane marking changed to solid lines, preparing the drivers to slow down.

Lane marking changed to solid lines, preparing the drivers to slow down before they reach the junction.

The overall visual effect is that you intuitively feel the need to slow down and drive more carefully before approaching a junction and pedestrian crossing.

Like many bicycle users, I cycle on the roads as well as pavements. When I need to cycle or walk across the roads, It is easy to judge if it is safe or not. In Singapore, I’ll have to constantly check my back while crossing the road because turning cars may intrude into the pedestrian crossing from behind. This is due to the fact that, in Singapore, the crossing is drawn at the turning radius. There is no buffer space for the driver to “pause” before entering into the “conflicting zone”- the Ped-crossing. Tokyo drivers always stops if there is someone riding or walking on the ped-crossing. Right turning cars does not intrude into the pedestrian crossing, they have a “buffer space” to pause and wait. Driver in Singapore don’t have such space, they have to enter into the pedestrian crossing in order to avoid being crashed by on coming traffic.

It seems what makes cycling safe in Tokyo is not only the culture, design of the road and infrastructure must also play a part to support and sustain safe road user behaviour. At this point I wonder how would a Tokyo driver behave in Singapore? or vise versa?

Related: Unsafe driving behaviour due to poor junction design.