SINGAPORE: Cyclists will find it easier to get around in Punggol when a network of cycling paths is completed in the neighbourhood by the first quarter of 2017. This would benefit executive condo residents of The Terrace EC and Waterwoods EC.
The groundbreaking ceremony took place on Sunday (Jun 21). The Government has been ramping up cycling infrastructure to promote greener ways of travelling.
Mr Woon Taiwoon has been living in Punggol for five years. The 40-year-old cycles almost daily around the neighbourhood for various errands, such as to buy food or to meet up with friends. He is looking forward to the completion of the new cycling paths.
“When you cycle on the pavements, it’s actually for pedestrians, so we have to be really careful,” said Mr Woon. “With dedicated bike paths, it helps to reduce this tension between riders and pedestrians. We are very mindful, that pavements are for pedestrians. By having these dedicated bike lanes, we’re probably improving the safety as well.”
Currently, there are park connectors on the periphery of Punggol. These paths, marked in green, link up parks in the area. And the new paths – in red – will be within the estate.
Stretching 8.8 kilometres, they’ll have dedicated spaces for cyclists and pedestrians. The paths will connect homes to amenities such as the Waterway, MRT stations and schools.
Said Ms Penny Low, Member of Parliament for the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC: “Punggol is the first eco-town in Singapore and also in the tropics. So for a long time, we’ve always wanted a cycling network, not just because it’s green, but also it’s really good for health. So residents have given feedback, and they’ve also told us about where they would like to see some of the cycling paths.”
She added: “The cycling network is quite extensive, it’s about 8.8km, and it will be completed by the first quarter of 2017. Of course, the minute certain parts are finished, they will also be open, so we won’t wait round to 2017. By next year, some parts can already be used. There will be a cycling safety committee that would be set up right after the cycle paths are built. So that again takes care of some of the safety aspects and things that we will learn along the way.”
The government also plans to build cycling path networks in all HDB towns by 2030. The paths and park connectors will make up an islandwide network spanning over 700km.
But Mr Woon hopes more can be done to make cycling a safer activity. He pointed to New York City, where there are special bike lanes on roads.
Said Mr Woon: “One consideration is to also ask the small cycling commuting group where they are cycling from, so the idea is to find something that is already being used, and maybe make it safer. This immediately creates a usage pattern that we can actually understand. And the consideration for the bike path is that we do not want to make the driving experience any worse.”
In New York, people do not have to own a bike in order to cycle.There is a bike sharing service that allows people to rent bikes at hundreds of stations around the city. There are different fees for different durations of use. For US$149, a cyclist can enjoy unlimited trips of up to 45 minutes each, for a year.
The company that provides the service, Motivate, says it helps those who take short trips, or who find it inconvenient to take the train.
“Citi Bikes help serve trips that are too short to take a subway, or maybe too inconvenient to take the subway,” said Mr Dani Simons, director of Communications and External Affairs. “It connects neighbourhoods that aren’t well served by transit but it makes it a lot faster than walking. And it also is something that New Yorkers are embracing more. People are embracing the idea of being more healthy, being more physically active, and also a more sustainable lifestyle.”
One analyst feels bike sharing is something that can be implemented in Singapore.
“Government leadership is very important,” said Professor Lee Der Horng of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the National University of Singapore. “(We) must form the critical mass, and must provide the sufficient and corresponding infrastructure.”
Professor Lee added: “The moment we look at some other cities in terms of bike sharing, not all of them, or many of them are not profitable, however they are still doing this. If we believe, if we subscribe that cycling is good and bike sharing is something that we should promote, then profitability should not ride on top of all the other considerations.”
Professor Lee added that there must be adequate cycling infrastructure to encourage more people to cycle.