Things I wish Singapore did for cyclists

Some small measures can go a long way.

By He Ruiming | March 7, 2018

I rode back and forth from Orchard to Jurong for a year.

I cycled to work from Jurong to Orchard every day for the past year and didn’t die

It was great.

I lost my post-NS tummy, saved some money and I saw parts of Singapore I would never have if I walked/drove/took public transport.

Somewhere near Coney Island. Walking here would have been a b*tch. (Photo by He Ruiming)

When you decide to cycle to work in Singapore, you automatically make yourself some sort of weirdo.

Or ‘poser’, some have called me.

Honestly, that doesn’t bother me.

What bothers me though, is that the establishment could be doing a lot more for the cycling community.

That’s why, instead of completing my actual work, I’ve decided to write this checklist of things I wish the Singapore did for cyclists.

Hopefully, this will make it to someone’s computer at LTA, the Traffic Police or a Caucasian expat living in Singapore.

(The last one because Singaporeans always seem to pay more attention whenever they say things. A sucky thing, actually, but I accept it.)

Without further ado, here they are:

1. More bus lanes

Photo by He Ruiming

Status: They’re on it. But there could be more.

Why? An increase of bus lanes benefits the masses, including cyclists. (It’s an oft-forgotten fact, but bus lanes in Singapore are also for cyclists.)

Part of accident prevention is limiting interactions between cyclists and vehicles — so if cyclists only encounter buses, there will be less accidents.

2. Wider footpaths

This is a wide foot path in Japan. There are wide footpaths in Singapore too, but I just don’t happen to have any pics. (Photo by He Ruiming)

Status: They’re on it.

Why? Not everyone’s clad in lycra and willing to cycle on the road. Some of us just want a faster method to get around the neighbourhood than walking.

Foot paths are cramped af.

3. Cycle to work scheme

Status: Hasn’t happened.

Why? Obviously to encourage more cyclists in Singapore. Which is great for critical mass reasons. In the UK, this scheme effectively gets you an interest-free loan on your bike over 12 months.

Hundreds of thousands of people have already bought a bike on the scheme, which was introduced as a tax exemption in 1999 by the government to “promote healthier journeys to work and reduce environmental pollution”.

Sounds like it could potentially work for Singapore too.

4. Better public transport system

Source: File

Status: … (They’re allegedly working on it)

Why? Better public transport system = Less people in cars = safer roads for bicycles. Self explanatory.

5. Undercover police cyclists

Status: Hasn’t happened.

Why? In the UK, police have started Operation Close Pass. Officers go undercover and bus drivers who drive too close to cyclists. Now, that’s an idea.

Not only is it a good way to catch errant motorists, the police can also arrest a**hole cyclists giving the community a bad name.

I love it.

6. Better bike storage facilities

Source: LTA

Status: They’ve started on it.

Bike sharing is great, but serious commuters are always going to get their own bicycles. Current bike locking facilities suck. At MRTs, they’re messy and unguarded.

They offer little security from bike thieves and vandals — every time I leave my bike there I half-expect it to be gone.

To be fair, they’ve started an automated underground parking system near Admiralty MRT, so that’s a start.

But how about commercial buildings within the CBD? Not everyone ends their commute at a MRT station.

Some buildings, like OUE Downtown (well done, OUE Downtown), have got the right idea. They’ve installed bike racks in well-trafficked areas that are overseen by eateries. People can watch out for one another.

Others though, are less progressive. Security guards will chase you for attempting to park your bike anywhere. It’s unpleasant and discouraging.

Here’s an idea: Security guards already look after people’s precious cars in the basement parking. What’s a couple of bicycles more? One parking space can comfortably store like 8 bicycles. So there.

7. Stricter policies on abandoned bicycles

Bikes like these are a reminder of how we can do better. (Photo by He Ruiming)

Status: ???

Why? People can’t use bike racks because irresponsible wankers leave their bikes for eternity. Pedestrians can’t walk because of irresponsibly parked/abandoned bikes.

Outdoor parking should not be a long-term parking solution for people.

Get rid of abandoned bikes after 18 days. Enough said.

8. Signs that tell people which roads are bikeable, and which are not

It doesn’t even need to be a fancy design, man. (Photo via)

Status: Hasn’t happened.

Why? Because some cyclists and drivers are idiots. There are cyclists who insist on riding on expressways. And there are drivers who think cyclists aren’t allowed on the road.

How many people ever read Chapter 276, Section 140, of the Road Traffic (Bicycles) Rules?! Probably very few.

Just stick up the damned signs and be done with. You can ride here. You can’t ride here. Problem solved.

9. Reduce the growth of vehicles

Status: This is done, but I would like to elaborate more.

Why? Singaporeans’ love affair with the automobile has to end.

It’s insane.

Even if you don’t cycle, it makes sense. In the era of Grab and Uber, there are so many better ways to spend a hundred grand.

Let the rich kids be the ones continue chasing dreams of Lamborghini and Maseratis. (Fun fact — Singaporeans are buying less cars, but those who are, are getting more expensive cars)

For the average working-class Singaporean, not getting a car is the start of an amazing life. As long as you’re not one of those guys whose identity is linked to a car, that is.

With the money you’ve saved, you could pay off all your loans, invest in property overseas, take a gap year for a couple of years and give your parents the holiday they’ve always wanted.

Use it to raise a kid, pay for their education, move to Malaysia, move to greener pastures. Do the things that will make you more worldly, more relaxed and more free.

It’s all a possibility.

And it all begins with a bicycle.

This article first appeared here.

Top photo by He Ruiming.

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About He Ruiming

Ruiming is a freelance writer that has lived in Singapore, Melbourne and Hongkong. When he’s not being snarky on Mothership or waddling waist-deep in deadlines, he finds time for life’s simple pleasures: Teh-O PengLao Gan Ma chilli oil and HBO’s award-winning TV series Game Of Thrones.

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