Preliminary Observations

Finally got to reassemble my bike. Did a short turn this evening from my home to Bishan Park. Took 10-15 mins. Once there I pondered whether to recce more of my probable commuting route (down Marymount Road and possibly Lornie Road), but decided to take a spin around the park instead. It was as bad as I remembered it. Cyclists intruded onto the pedestrian path, and pedestrians intruded onto the cycling path. Kids swerving around who wouldn’t look up even if I shouted “watch out”. Perhaps a simple “Oi” would work better. The blatant violations of lane designations really grated on me so I stopped to take photos of some violators:
bishan park violators
more bishan park violators

A possibly non-obvious reason why commuting in Singapore is so difficult is because of the organisation of the roads. Instead of a network of uniformly connected roads across the island, there are arterial roads which branch out into smaller roads. This means that it’s often difficult to take an alternative route along smaller roads — you just have to use certain arterial roads at many points. The arterial roads divide the island up into the neighbourhoods we are familiar with — Toa Payoh is practically defined by the expressways and major roads (PIE and Braddell, amongst others) that surround it; and there are few entry points into it. This is quite unlike the grid system in Chicago, which effectively guarantees a multitude of alternative routes along quieter roads to get to your destination — you will never be stranded literally across a major highway from your destination without a ridable route towards it. Furthermore, small capiliary roads in Singapore often filter out to a busy street without the aid of traffic lights at the intersection. This means that it is often impracticable (and impossible if there is that silly barrier across the middle of the busy road) to filter out rightwards. So one literally has to plan every turn one makes for a feasible commute. In Chicago, I would just take a glance at the map, figure out how far north/south and east/west was, and decide when to turn inland, when to turn north, etc. according to how busy each of the alternative roads I could use seemed when I came to them. The only really big decision was when I should turn off the lakefront bike path.

Today’s ride was about as I expected. Drivers here pass you much more closely, even when you are coming towards them head-on on a one-lane street and they can clearly see you, and have to cut into your lane to pass you. The most dangerous part for me was at the CTE/AMK Ave 1 intersection, where cars exiting the CTE were filtering out. Two bloody lanes of them. They were filtering out extremely aggressively, but thankfully my hand signal that I meant to indicate “could you please let me get completely to the left edge of the road first before coming out, instead of accelerating onto my left and squeezing me onto the line between the leftmost lane and the second-from-leftmost lane” seemed to work and I passed that without injury. The part that angered me the most was on the return trip down Philips Ave. The curbside parking meant the lane was only big enough for one car, and probably just big enough for one car and one bicycle side by side. Unfortunately, thanks again to curbside parking and inconsiderately placed dustbins, there was a pedestrian walking on the road. I accelerated to passed her, and at the same time heard a vehicle determinedly accelerating towards me. I decided not to play chicken with said vehicle and braked hard to move back behind the pedestrian and let it pass. Then I quickly slipped back out to take the road and pass the pedestrian, although there was another car bearing down on me like the last one. Fuck them. I really am tempted now to stick a large “Bikes are Traffic” announcement on the back of my seat or something.

I suppose we should be grateful that they aren’t doing this here. Yet.

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