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What “Cycling to Work” has done to me?

By Francis Tang, Singapore.

Francis Tang

Until now I still can’t believe my fitness has gone up so much since one year ago before I started bike commuting. I think the best choice I have ever did was to sell away my motorcycle then, because it kept giving me the urge to just ride my motor.

Took me more than an hour at first to ride 20km to work and almost 2 hours back due to peak hour. But it has since gone down to 45mins to and 50min back, half an hour faster than mrt and only 15 mins slower than motor. I have since rode 8000km commuting in one year. Best is I no longer need to go gym. Hence I had more time with my family. More advantage include:

Francis Tang cycling to work

1.When I go to town, I no longer worried of where to park or jam.
2. Feel a big sense of achievement after every commute, especially if I need to go very far like woodland.
3. I have gone pass most of the roads in Singapore, seeing many things I’ve never see before iny life
4. No problem with rain anymore. Whether it’s sweat or rain water, I still need to change anyway what.
5. I sweat lesser as time goes by, now I just need to wipe down using a wet sports towel after commute.
6. My confidence level goes up believing anything is possible
7. Traffic jam, increase petrol prices, coe, erp, road tax and mrt break down is a history to me.
8. I really feel very happy everyday after the commute. The occasional impatient drivers doesn’t bother me anymore.
9. I have gone to a lot more places in Singapore than I’ve ever been and…
10. Everytime a part of my bicycle broke down, I was very happy to replace it with a better component using the money save from petrol, erp, coe, road tax… Etc.

This is only my thought after one year of bike commuting. I know most people find it dangerous, and it’s definitely true. Just want to share, not trying to convince you to try.

Why I left Safe Cycling Task Force?

In 2012 Safe Cycling Task Force has five remaining members from previous years:

The president Steven Lim, Vice president Cor-Henk, Chenmun Chen, Adrian Mok and I.

I am both sad and relief to announce that I am resigning from Safe Cycling Task Force (SCTF).

I feel sad to leave the group because I’ve been with this group to promote safety for cycling since 2005. I have been joining all the society meeting, making minutes, managing this site, and even designed the logo for SCTF.

I feel relieved as we all believe this is the best way to get things moving for both SCTF and I. We can spend less energy to debate and resolve different approaches internally and focus our limited resources to area that can make a real impact.

We are all contributing to SCTF as volunteer. I think each of us want to see the best from the team work.

In 2010, I started LoveCyclingSG with Taiwoon and we both discovered openness empower people to contribute. Within LCSG we have high trust with each other and encourage people to run their projects. The energy is amazing and we got so much done without any external support, and we grow from 5 to 2700 within 2 years. I tried to encourage Steven and SCTF team to adopt a more open approach, let more people in, let them help us to shape SCTF. I believe this is the way forward and will help to bring SCTF to the next phase. But judging from the meetings and conversation since September 2012, I get a feeling that the SCTF team was reluctant to open itself. I am not satisfy to follow similar way as we’ve been for 7 years, and the rest of SCTF didn’t see the point for change. I felt there is no point wasting more time in this unproductive discussion. Since I’m the odd one out, the best way is to leave the group and free both sides to continue with their preferred way of working.

Francis Chu (aka Chu Wa) October 9th, 2012

Why do cyclist eat my road cookie?

The contention between car drivers and cyclists goes like this story..

A young lady was waiting for her flight at a boarding room of a big airport.
Her flight was delayed and she would have to wait for many hours. She purchased a book and a package of cookies and sat down in a chair to spend the time. Beside her was an empty chair where the package of cookies lay and a man was sitting in the next chair reading a magazine.

She took a cookie and the man took one as well! She was irritated but said nothing and continued to read. She thought to herself, “Whoa, he’s got nerve!” For each cookie she took, the man took one as well. She was infuriated but did not wish to make a scene in the crowded airport.

When only one cookie remained, she thought I wondered what this rude man will do. As if reading her mind, the man picked up the cookie broke it in half and handed it to her without looking up.

That was it; she got up, gathered her things and stormed off.

Later after she boarded her plane, she reached into her purse to get her glasses and she pulled out a packet of cookies -she suddenly remembered that she had placed HER cookies in her purse. And the man she considered so rude, was sharing his cookies with her with out anger, just pure kindness.

She felt so ashamed and there was no way to make the proper amends.

Many drivers feels the same as the lady initially:

“I pay road tax yet the cyclists don’t, why should they be allowed on the roads?”

The frustration is for a good reason. Singapore is probably the most expensive place to own a car, apart form the car price, import tax, COE, insurance, road tax patrol and so on. With the car population growing faster than roads can expand, congestion hour has been extended for at least one hour compared to 10 years ago. The inconsiderate cyclist didn’t pay any of these cost and now want to share the road? No way!

However most people don’t realize, although drivers have paid a lot, the road and car-related infrastructure is by far more costly than what they have paid. Let’s look at a few examples:

Example 1: Car Park Space

I live in a condo and I share the cost of all the facilities including car parks even though I don’t use one. Obviously all the people who don’t drive is subsidising those who drive in terms of car park construction and maintenance. This cost is factored into the price of each unit, and the management fees. More interesting issues relates to car parking can be found in Paul Barter’s blog (Associate professor NUS, LKY School of Policy) excellent article.

Example 2:  Road Tax

Road taxes and total tax (extracted from Singapore Statistic)

Another example, the annual income of motor related taxes in 2010 and 2011 is about $1.9 billion (including road tax, additional registration tax, special tax on heavy-oil engines, see fig. 1). That is just enough to build 1/4 of the 20km North South Expressway (8 billion), or 5km of the 20km. On the other hand, road expanded at a rate of 28 km per year over the last 4 years. If taxes from motorists pays only for 5km, who is paying for the remaining 23km? The non-motor-related taxes is paying nearly 5 times of the road cookie compared to the motor-related taxes. Further more, there are over 3377 km roads in Singapore since 2010, and they obviously need to be maintained constantly. Who is paying for the maintenance? If the motor-related taxes already used to pay for the 5km new highway, the entire maintenance cost has to come from the non-motor related taxes.

Example 3: Social Cost

Driving imposes significant burden on the society as a whole.

Air pollution causes respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Increases of PM2.5 is associated with higher number of patients admitted into hospital due to heart problems.

Noise from heavy traffic is known to cause stress and insomnia. Sound barriers are expensive to construct and are not always effective.

CO2 Greenhouse effect. Motor vehicles emit thousands of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere and is one of the main contributors of greenhouse effect.

Road kills and injuries, regardless of who is right and who is wrong — motorised vehicle is the root cause of serious road danger. In 2010 there were 193 fatal accidents and 11665 injuries. Injuries can be so severe that a heavy and long term burden is imposed on victim’s family members financially, physically and mentally.

All the social costs have to be borne by someone and currently these costs are not covered by motorists in any way. Hard to believe? Here is a detail study from Copenhagen shows how each kilometer of driving creates a net lost to the society.

So road tax hardly paid for the roads, and driving costs other’s money. I wonder if these facts would make some drivers less tense when he see a cyclist on the road next time?

Give me the space so I can follow the rule

2012-07-25 Singapore, by Chu Wa, Francis

Article by Francis Chu, First published in ZaoBao 2012-07-25

Yesterday when I went home, I saw a father riding a bicycle and carrying two kids, one in the front and the other at the back. He yield slowly at a junction, checked there was no car around and he ride across the junction quickly. He continue on the pavement carefully. I snapped a photo and upload it to the Facebook, many friends share their memory of being carried by their father/ mother’s bike when they were small. “It’s really an enjoayble mement, wind blows in my face, talking and chating to my father. Watching the street scene flow by while sitting between his large arm, I felt excited, warm and secured.” A friend told me. Others shared that’s how they bring thier kids to school, as a parent, they all enjoy this “moment of two” with thier kids on thier journey. However, this affordable, eco friendly and healthy way of commute is being marginalized. If you want to avoid the danger of cars, you need to ride on the pavement, and which is illegel (except Tampines town). It is also illegel to carry people on your bicycle. To some, that father using his own effort, carfully carrying his kids between home and school has already breached the law.

Recently there is an article publiched in ST <> the author, Ignatius Low, list many wrongdoing of cyclists in Singapore. He share his experience in UK and feel that cyclists over there are much more deciplined than the local cyclists. The article striked a sensitive chore in the public and many readers write in to support him. Most agreed that there are many “ruleless cyclists” who don’t respect the laws.

As an “Bicycle-Master”, I have more than 7 years of driving and cycling experience in Singapore. I feel Mr. Low does not have a real taste of riding in Singapore. He doesn’t understand why sometimes it is necessary to make an illegel move. e.g riding on pavement (to avoid car), or riding across pedestrian crossing (to reduce exposure to the danger of cars).

Mr. Low listed 7 sins of the local cyclist:
1) riding on pavement,
2) ringing their bell and threathening the pedestrian
3) carrying people on bicycle
4) riding across crossing
5) riding against traffic
6) no front and back light at night
7) not wearing helmet.

Only (2) is really a bad behavior and should not be allowed, and I agree there are a few cyclists belongs to this group. The rest, technically illegel, but Mr. Low is pushing too far when he said these behavior are “endngering” car drivers. About the helmet, in Singapore there is no law to force cyclist to wear a helmet, it is a personal freedom that each person should decide for himself. In fact helmet law does not exist in all advanced countries with high population of bicycle, such as the Netherlands and Denmark. They genearlly agree helmet doesn’t add to the safety of the rider, but increase the burden for cycling.

If cyclist really is the “King of the Road” as claimed, than we shouldn’t see cyclists being forced onto the pavement. I feel local cyclist is more like the “Orphan of the Road”, they don’t have a space they belong (no bicycle lane), they don’t have proper protection (law does not protect them well). When confronted with danger (car) , they just have to jump here and there to avoid being hit.

I don’t agree with the view of Mr. Low. However, at the end of his article, he asked a very valid question: “Is it unwillingness on the part of Goverment to lay down the law clearly for cyclists and provides the necessary cycling lanes and other infrastructure that will engender oerderly behaviour?”

Letter to the Minister of Transport, Mr. Lui Tuck Yew

Mr. Lui Tuck Yew

C.C., (Deputy Secretary MOT), (CEO of LTA) (Mr. Teo Sur Luck)

Dear Minister,

We are LovecyclingSG, a group of ordinary people who love cycling in Singapore. Among us there are parents, children and friends. We have been cycling all around Singapore every Sunday morning since 2 years ago. Cycling opens our eyes and minds and enhanced our appreciation of Singapore as a green, modern city.

We believe cycling is for everyone and it is the most eco-friendly, healthy and human way of moving around besides walking. A number of our 1800 members are considering to cycle to work or have already done so. We are grateful for world-class road infrastructure and public transportation today, and we do hope the same can be done to facilitate safe cycling.

The recent incidents along Changi Coast Road and Lower Delta road, where three cyclists were killed in a crash involving cars and bicycle, highlighting the fact that the main source of danger for cyclists are motorized vehicles, especially fast moving big vehicles. These heart breaking incidents can be and should be avoided or mitigated.

Apart from the need to improve education for drivers/cyclists to adopt a gracious road attitude, we would like to highlight two areas for consideration:

Firstly, there is a general feeling that the penalty for life endangering behavior like drink driving, reckless driving or speeding are way too lenient to be effective as a deterrence.

Secondly, roads and junction design and configuration seem to undermine the safety of human (pedestrians and cyclists), and in favor of smoother movement for cars. For example:

– Large radius at road corner facilitate smooth turning with little or no need to slow down, but pedestrians or cyclist pushing a bike crossing the road has to look behind (right) to make sure no careless driver. The extra crossing distance needed to cover the radius exposes children, elderly or disabled people to more danger of cars. Pedestrian crossing is safer to be drawn at least 15 meter from the junction.

– Many lanes are wider than standard, these wide lanes encourage speeding because it feels slower on a wide open lane compared to a narrower lane. Such lanes can be narrowed down and at the same time, create some breathing space for cyclists between the double yellow lines and the curb side.

We should review our current road design. Many life-endangering situations can be reduced by a simple adjustment of the road marking or minor reconstruction. It will help to calm the speeding traffic and will certainly help to save the lives of healthy living people who may be our family members or friends.

We hope a serious investigation can be initiated by MOT, involving the feedback of all road users and stake-holders, with the intention to come to :

1) improve legislation to allow the law to deal with irresponsible driving behavior more effectively
2) improve road and junction design in favour of human life over slight speed gain of car movement.

We are more than happy to help in this investigation as a feedback group. Many of us are drivers and understand traffic rules well.
We look forward to your response and to meet up to provide our feedback and suggestions.

Best regards,

Francis Chu & Taiwoon Woon
on behalf of LovecyclingSG

Want to show your support? Like the FB page “Safe Roads for People

Want our kids to have a sense of belonging? Make our roads bicycle and pedestrian friendly

Children who were driven everywhere weren’t able to accurately draw how the streets in their community connected

Heavy car traffic changes the way children see and experience the world by diminishing their connection to community and neighbors. It is discovered that heavy traffic in cities erodes human connections in neighborhoods, contributing to feelings of dissatisfaction and loneliness. A new study has shown how constantly being in and around cars affects children’s perception and understanding of their home territory.

Read more: Kids Who Get Driven Everywhere Don’t Know Where They’re Going

World Water Day photos and video (2012-04-24)

The LCSG team from all over Singapore - isn't it look like a human formation of Singapore, including Santosa and Jurong Island?

2012-04-24 Singapore
So many things happened recently I am really behind posting the photos. Here is a collection from the World Water Day 2012. LCSG worked with PUB on the routing. We even attracted 20+ Indonesian cyclists to join us, It was a fun packed event with an educational twist. Lots of cheers and happy faces along the entire Punggol waterway. DPM Teo Chee Hean took the chances to snap a few picture of LCSG group at the starting point before he flag off the cyclists.  We have a turn out of 120+ cyclists. Tiffany, the little girl with a big water bottle was leading the pack from the starting point, until our Panda master Clearance (yellow T) took over later in the ride. Both Mr Peng Kah Poh. Director of InfoComm (PUB) and myself rode an Isuda bike to complete the ride.

For me, I had the pleasure riding with Dr Janil Puthucheary, MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC (Punggol West), who advocated cycling during the recent Parliament debate. I was most impressed by his remark: “After I switched to cycling and gave up driving 18 months ago, I saw my productivity shoot up!”

If you’re wondering why, this was what he shared with me, “My job requires me to go to many different places and I used to spend a lot of time driving. I can’t do anything else when I am driving.” ” But now depends on the day’s agenda, it may be a cycling day or jogging day. I take public transport to complement cycling and jogging. When I am sitting in the MRT train, I can log in to my email and type away. Part of the commuting time becomes more productive and I save more time by not needing to go to the gym. So that is double savings!”  Wow!

Guest Of Honor DPM Teo Chee Hean leading the team of MPs into to the Punggol Water Way starting point. Dr Janil Puthucheary, MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC (Punggol West), following with his folding bike!.

DPM Teo Chee Hean flag off the cycling cycle-walk. LCSG is proud to be an official partner in this meaningful event.

DPM can't resist but had to snap a few pics of his own before the flag off.

From left to right: Mr Peng Kah Poh. Director of InfoComm (PUB), Dr Janil Puthucheary, MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC (Punggol West), and our Israwi, with his DIY Cargobike

Bike Hour tomorrow 6-7pm

Bike Hour 2012

It’s like Earth Hour, only more useful. It’s like a critical mass ride, only effective. The world’s biggest, completely unorganised, mass cycling rally will happen wherever you are, on Tuesday March 20, between 6 and 7 pm. Why? Because you will be riding your bike.

Come on people! Let’s get together and make a revolution of an amazing nature, even if you are not a regular cyclist you can always: RIDE MORE! DRIVE LESS!

Spread the word and invite as many people as you can! 🙂

The Facebook event page

By Amir Taheri, Steven Fleming and Gus Potts