Bikes are Still Toys

When I read somewhere that the Transport Minister had indeed mentioned some pro-cycling measures, I’d actually dared to hope that it’d be something like being able to bring bikes on trains during off-peak hours, or bike racks on public buses, or even bike lanes on the roads. No such luck, of course.

From his speech:

Facilitating Cyclists

44 Cyclists are another group that we will facilitate. There is a growing interest in cycling, with more people cycling for recreation, or to get around the neighbourhood.

45 We invited some of them to our land transport review focus group discussions to see how we could better cater to their needs. Some cyclists asked for more bicycle stands around our bus and MRT stations. Others made the point that some foldable bicycles were not much bigger than prams, so why not allow them onboard our trains and buses?

46 Responding to this, LTA together with the public transport operators will launch a six-month trial from March 2008 to allow cyclists to carry their foldable bicycles on board trains and buses. LTA will also work with NParks and other agencies to leverage on the park connectors to enable cyclists to get to public transport interchanges more easily. Bicycle parking facilities at the MRT stations and bus interchanges in housing estates will be improved.

47 The cyclists also shared their ‘war stories’ and asked us to help improve safety on our roads. Following a pilot in Changi, LTA will put up signs to alert motorists to the presence of cyclists along frequently used cycling routes such as those in West Coast and Thomson from March 08. LTA and the Traffic Police have also started a trial to allow cycling on pedestrian footways in Tampines.

48 But at the end of the day, it is also an issue of mutual accommodation – for the motorists to look out for cyclists on the road; and for cyclists to have a care for pedestrians.

OK, token statement of ‘don’t kill them!’ in #48. #44 I find quite disappointing: the ‘growing interest in cycling’ is summarised as ‘more people cycling for recreation, or to get around the neighbourhood’. Transitioning to cycling as the main mode of transport (i.e. more than just pedalling the 1km to your local supermarket) is not mentioned. I wasn’t expecting it to; but it does show that we have a long way to go before it’s an acceptable part of one’s lifestyle.

#45: Still no normal bikes on trains, and foldable bikes allowed only on a ‘trial’. And again more encouragement to use park connectors to get to places, and only to local public transport interchanges. I don’t like park connectors for commuting for the simple reason that you have to go really slowly to avoid endangering other users on them. And they also have the unsatisfactory connotation that bicycles belong in parks, as toys, not as vehicles.

To end on a less sour note, this is better than the nothing that I’d expected from the Land Transport Review, but the mindset of Bicycles=Toys still permeates the minister’s speech.

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