Before I Forget

I’d like to say a big thank you to the taxi driver who slowed down to let me filter right in front of him just before the dreaded Toa Payoh flyover filter along Braddell Road. For those not familiar with the area, in both directions along Braddell Road, there is a two lane filter into the Toa Payoh estate. I usually have no problems avoiding being ‘squeezed’ into the filter when I cycle to work in the wee hours of the morning, but when I return in the late afternoon, traffic is somewhat heavier and filtering becomes considerably more difficult. Furthermore, in the return direction (going towards the CTE junction), most cars are coming down a flyover ramp at high speed, and are hence usually less amenable to yielding to cyclists (on the other side of the road, the cars are just coming from flat ground).

But no thank you to whoever was in the Volvo at the Lorong Chuan/AMK Ave 1 junction, where I was in the middle of the middle lane approaching the junction, because I didn’t want to turn left. You were turning left, I was nowhere close to encroaching upon ‘your’ lane, yet you still felt the need to honk several times at me.

Another thing of note. The section of Thomson Road at the big Lornie/Thomson/Braddell confluence had one lane closed off today. This was an unexpected boon for me because traffic was forced to slow down, which actually allowed me to feel safe filtering safely into the middle lane to get to Braddell Road. (I feel more assured that drivers will see and give a shit about my hand signal to turn right when they are going more slowly.) In normal traffic conditions, if I take the middle lane at the red light, drivers behind me get unhappy and often resort to passing me at decidedly unsafe distances (after, of course, lots of honking). If I don’t take the middle lane, I usually don’t get a chance to filter to the middle lane in the short stretch after the traffic lights and before the Braddell junction, and am ‘channelled’ helplessly into Upper Thomson Road, from where I have to take the pedestrian crossing at the next traffic lights to get to Bishan St 21, and detour through Bishan (up the bloody hill outside RJC) before emerging into Braddell Road near the CTE. Unintended traffic calming is a good thing.

9 Responses to “Before I Forget”


  1. 1 Vince September 20, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Hi.

    I ride in the opposite direction that you do every day. I leave for work at around 8 to sometimes 2pm, towards Macpherson road. I get to that same Toa Payoh flyover that you do – in both directions – as you go to work – but perhaps many hours later.

    It, and the opposite direction, had always been a difficult point of my commute (including the flyover at Lornie road towards Dunearn Road). Any flyover inevitably is.

    However recently I haven’t found it so difficult. I think yes, it is tougher for riders starting out on it. But I’ve not had any problems so far.

    Maybe it is the hours at which I ride. In any case I don’t think it has to be adversorial – between cyclists and drivers.

    I do ride to work a lot — see http://www.drunkcylist.blogspot.com , and I can honestly say I usually find it rather smooth going. Really. I am not kidding.

    How come we have such different experiences?

  2. 2 Vince September 20, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    By the way, I should mention that I give way to vehicles. They are larger than I am. I show respect for that fact.

    What’s a hand signal?

  3. 3 Ponder Stibbons September 20, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    I don’t have a problem at 6+am. I do have a problem at 6pm. Of course I give way to vehicles. That’s why I am unable to filter (otherwise I’d just filter and not give a damn who’s in the next lane). At 6pm there’s a pretty steady stream of vehicles coming down at high speed off the flyover. (I guess 6pm is likely worse than 8-2pm in the same direction, since it’s the direction most people are going home in.) I try to wait for a gap and cut quickly. On the day I blogged about I waited for quite long and there still wasn’t a gap, until the taxi relented. By the way, the extreme end of giving way will include keeping to the extreme left all the time, including weaving into bus bays. Since you cycle often, you probably know this isn’t safe practice. A balance has to be struck between standing your ground and maintaining visibility, and giving way to vehicles. Of course when you are the vehicle trying to filter right, you give way to those coming up quickly in the next lane.

    Hand signals:
    http://www.bikesense.bc.ca/ch4.htm

    I avoid Lornie Road because of the flyover. Tried it a couple of times and it scared me shitless. I suspect I have a lower threshold for danger than you do. But I also suspect it’s already higher than the average Singaporean’s threshold. If cycling is to become popular, this is a real concern.

    I don’t think any cyclist wants it to be adverserial. I don’t go out of my way to annoy cars. But I do get annoyed when they engage in adverserial or unsafe behaviour.

    You could say I have high ‘expectations’ of safety on Singapore roads. Well I expect danger, actually. But I do have high hopes of improvements in safety. I do think there’s much room for improvement in the way people drive here. So I think it’s worth writing about instances of unsafe behaviour. I think the statistics show unequivocally the dangers of Singaporean roads, compared to other countries. They may not bother you, but they do kill people. And they could kill less. So we should try for that. That’s why I mention traffic calming often. It’s the most sustainable (environmentally) and people-friendly solution.

  4. 4 Back2Nature September 26, 2008 at 8:36 am

    Last time, because I was familiar with Bus 157, I used to ride on Braddell road towards Lornie road, and back. However, it was a narrow road, specifically, left lane was narrow, at least from Toa Payoh exit until Lornie road. Although there has been much improvement now, but I seldom ride on it because there are alternative routes for me to ride back to Toa Payoh.

    From Braddell to Lornie, you might consider this alternative. It is not shorter or quicker, but I think it is not too bad. How about going through Toa Payoh? See http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/Braddell-to-Lornie-Road-through-Toa-Payoh.

    Since already in Toa Payoh, then may be not necessary to go to Lornie Road. How about going to Dunean Road from here? See beginning part in http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/Toa-Payoh-to-NTU. Thus, no need to strain muscles and the bike in climbing up Toa Payoh Rise.

    Isn’t riding on Flyover illegal?

    Similar, towards Macpherson, how about going through Toa Payoh and Potong Pasir? See http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/Toa-Payoh-bicycle-port-East.

    Nowadays, I would choose ease of riding over shorter distance/time.

  5. 5 Ponder Stibbons September 26, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Back2Nature,

    We are talking about riding past the filters into the flyover (from Braddell Road into Toa Payoh estate), not riding on the flyover itself.

    Thanks for the suggestions. I actually don’t have a problem with the filters in the direction you suggest, because I ride in that direction at 6+ in the morning when traffic is light. It’s on my way home when I have to ride past the TP flyover filter in the opposite direction from the one on your map. Going through Toa Payoh would not be a good option in that direction because I’d have to use the flyover to get out of TP into the right direction on Braddell Road (towards Lor Chuan).

  6. 6 Back2Nature September 29, 2008 at 7:50 am

    Sorry, I misunderstood Vince’s “including the flyover at Lornie road towards Dunearn Road” to mean the flyover from Marymount into Lornie road, which shouldn’t bother cyclists. On reading again, I think it refers to the exit from PIE into Lornie road. Yes, that’s very dangerous, and Sivasothi detour through Kheam Hock Road (http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/Serangoon-Gardens-to-NUS-Kent-Ridge-Campus). However, I remembered I managed without much problem because it was down slope (must ensure brakes working and won’t snap). It was the opposite direction during later hours that is very tricky.

    Then, you might consider http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/Toa-Payoh-bicycle-port-North-East. Hopefully they have linked up the park connector to the bridge by now as I haven’t ridden this way for more than a year. Ideally, it would be nice if the top people decided to open a path between SMRT and CITI (is it still CITI?) and an underpass to cross the CTE🙂

  7. 7 acidmark October 11, 2008 at 8:39 am

    i’m a little uncertain sometimes how to interpret car horns. i think most of us usually assume that there is an amount of irritation behind the horns, probably it’s always a rude burst of noise into the air. so i get the horns sometimes when i filter into lane 2 to avoid the ‘left turn lane’ but i think some drivers just do so to say, “hey, i’m passing you, look out”

    actually i’ve been thinking of getting an air horn myself so it’s more fair game on the roads

  8. 8 Ponder Stibbons October 12, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    acidmark,

    That’s a good attitude to take towards horns. I tend to get annoyed too easily. I do think that horns that say ‘I’m passing you’ aren’t necessary, since I expect to be passed. It’s necessary only when you want to pass me at such a close distance that I have to move further left to make way for you. In which case, you shouldn’t pass me. I cycle at a distance from the left kerb that is the smallest distance I deem safe, and there’s no reason why I should compromise my safety in order to let you pass.

    in any case, I mentioned only the bugger who horned me even though i was well in the next lane (which he/she was not intending to use at all). It’s more understandable if someone who was in the same lane behind me horned.


  1. 1 Art Falcone Trackback on January 12, 2015 at 4:18 am

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