Archive for July, 2007

Brief Dispatches

Note: Do not go north on Farrer Road during the evening rush hour. I had decided to try to bike down Portsmouth Road to Queensway instead of pushing my bike up the sidewalk of the congested Buona Vista Road to the junction with Commonwealth Ave. Portsmouth Road was a pleasant ride but Queensway was not, and Farrer was completely jammed. It didn’t help that it began raining heavily when I entered Farrer Road, and that it was narrowed in some places for (what else) some sort of construction work.

The Vredestein Ricorso tire is extremely comfortable, even at similar pressures to that which I put in its predecessor, the Vredestein Fortezza SE. It feels cushy even at 100 psi.

On my way home on Monday night, I and a car that was turning left onto Yio Chu Kang Road from Serangoon Gardens Way had to slam on the brakes as a bunch of kids cycling on the sidewalk without lights decided to get on the road and cycle up Yio Chu Kang Road in the wrong direction. With cyclists like this, who needs enemies?

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Indignation 2007

Singapore’s GLBT pride season. Schedule and more information here.

“It doesn’t show up in any national statistic”

Tangentially related to my post on relentless demolition and construction in Singapore: Leong Ching wonders if we should leave more old structures standing.

We can’t feel part of the same country if it is like a dune of shifting sand, change from one day to the next, with no sense of permanence, no sense of history. We ought to be more judicious in what we are doing in the name of progress.

I like to tell my kids about the places I ate in when I grew up (Odeon beef noodles), the places I studied in (the kindergarten off Oxley Road where I lived), my favourite place for ice-cream (Cold Storage Creamery, opposite the present Centrepoint).

Most times, the stories hang in thin air – I can’t take them to look at any of the places because they were nearly always gone.

One day, I might wake up and see there isn’t really anything for me to remember.

Today’s Commute

It was drizzling all the way, but if anything I felt less wet than usual, because I perspired less. And my Mountain Hardwear capri pants are of course amazing at letting me feel dry.

Foot slipped off pedal while taking off at one intersection. My other foot was in the clip so I didn’t fall. Merely bruised the right side of my crotch and flailed around for a few seconds. Kudos to the patient driver waiting behind me while I flailed.

My Keen mocs withstood the moisture well. I can only remember them letting water in from the top, i.e. when the rain is heavy enough that water soaks through my socks or seeps in between socks and shoes. Pretty good grip — slip today would have happened on any shoes, so slick are the MKS Gr-9 pedals. I love those pedals but they really are a bugger in wet weather if one cannot get into the clips sharpish. But even if, as I usually do, one gets both feet into the clips within one revolution, one would have lost a potential few seconds of acceleration. In any case, I find them comfortable enough not to want to give them up because of that. Back to the Keen shoes. They’re also extremely comfortable to walk in, and the toe guards keep my toe clips from wearing down the leather. Also ridiculously easy to take on and off one’s feet without being too loose to, say, do some light hiking. They really are as functional and comfortable as they look.

I was stimulated to write this because I noticed that the water stains on my shose were asymmetric: the left shoe is stained mainly over the inner toes. The right side is stained mainly over the outer toes.

“But they rule out any protest.”

Since returning from Chicago I couldn’t help but notice the sheer amount of construction work that goes on in Singapore. At practically every other corner you will see some sort of demolition, road works, piling, building construction, and so on.

Oh, but that’s what makes Singapore so much more livable than those other places where they keep their old crumbling buildings, you say. All right. I’ll give Singapore one thing. There are very few potholes on the roads. On the other hand, thanks to copious amounts of construction materials being shipped around, there’s lots of gravel strewn by the sides of many major roads. Which is a pain in the ass for cyclists. But I’ll take that over potholes any day.

On the other hand, construction has lots of negative externalities that may not justify replacing the benefits (as yet still fuzzy) of having newer buildings. Noise pollution. Air pollution. Removal of green spaces, leading to the urban heat island effect, meaning both an unpleasant rise in temperatures and a loss of calming vegetation. And finally, there is the loss of culture or heritage when rare or significant buildings are demolished.

Which is what’s happening at possibly the last place in Singapore where greenery and silence is abundant (but not for much longer). Turns out that the wonderful aerospace hub will not only introduce noise and air pollution and remove greenery, but also obliterate bits of history. From Reuters:

With their white-washed walls and black-colored timber frames, Singapore’s “Black-and-White” bungalows are the most distinctive architectural remnants of the city-state’s colonial history.

Built mostly between 1890 and 1950, the bungalows have broad verandahs, stuccoed columns, high ceilings, tall shutter windows, and wide, overhanging eaves to keep out the tropical heat.

Black and Whites are among the most sought-after housing in Singapore, and soon they will be even harder to get as the government plans to raze up to a third of the 500 to 700 remaining bungalows to make way for an industrial park.

“Singapore has very little to conserve in terms of heritage. It’s really unfortunate that they are going to demolish them,” said Uma Maheswaran Cheyyar Ramanathan, a visiting fellow at the architecture department at the National University of Singapore.

[…]

Seletar residents are bemoaning the imminent loss of their charming houses and spacious gardens amid towering old rain trees, so different from the government-built housing blocks in which more than 80 percent of Singaporeans live.

“Singapore is now so crowded, we are not going to get this kind of space anywhere else,” said Manonmani James, 85, who has to vacate her bungalow by the end of 2008.

Residents say the government plan will destroy the close-knit community in Seletar, where residents leave front gates unlocked and allow their children to roam freely in the overgrown gardens.

But they rule out any protest.

“What are you going to do? The government will stamp out the fire before it can even start,” one resident told Reuters.

Government-owned JTC says the new complex will create 10,000 jobs and expand Singapore’s aerospace sector by an estimated S$3.3 billion ($2.2 billion) when it is completed in 2018.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an overgrown garden in Sg. Can’t remember the last time I did, to be frank. Children do not roam freely anywhere anymore. The vast majority of them, even those with more wealthy families, are cooped in high-rise buildings with carefully planned covered walkways lined with (at most) demure manicured potted plants. Where do you think you’re scampering off to? Walk on this! Follow the rules!

But, y’know, when we reach whatever heaven is reserved for the worshippers of money, you’ll be grateful that we chose to pursue economic development now.

But they rule out any protest.” “What are you going to do?” Such familiar phrases in this country.

Hat-tip: Postcards from Seletar

A Bike Lane Whereever You Go

No, I am not speaking of some biking utopia. The Sideline light system emits a beam of light two feet from your wheel, indicating to motorists the distance at which they can pass you safely. It’s currently in the prototype stage. One can only hope it makes it to the market.

Not sure how effective it’d be in the day, though.

Ponggol Nasi Lemak

No, this is not a food blog. I went there to get my dinner and was appalled enough by the number of traffic rules violators to take photos of them. There is a carpark 100m from the place, up Simon Road. It was more than half-empty:
Mostly Empty Simon Road Parking Lot

To avoid walking that 100m, selfish, food-loving Singaporeans parked along the double yellow lines on Upp Serangoon Road. Select food-lovers below the fold:
Continue reading ‘Ponggol Nasi Lemak’