Archive for November, 2008

Here We Go Again

This is fast becoming a series. In the latest ST article on cycling, we see the land-scarce excuse again:

Moreover, bicycle lanes in land-scarce Singapore is [sic] not cost-effective. It is physically not feasible to set aside dedicated road space for bicycles.

This goes against the standard wisdom of transport researchers. Bicycles are more space-efficient than cars; they take up less space per person transported. If you think that space efficiency is a reason to promote public motorized transport over private motorized transport, then you should also see it as a reason to promote bicycles over private motorized transport. This is what should be said:

Moreover, car lanes in land-scarce Singapore are not cost-effective. It is physically not feasible to set aside dedicated road space for cars.

Paul Barter makes the same point, and many others, in his draft paper on bicycles in Singapore.

Another canard from the ST article that I’m a little tired of putting down:

One argument offered by government officials is that Singapore’s hot and humid climate is not conducive to cycling.

Let me alter the quote again to show up its weakness:

One argument offered by government officials is that Amsterdam/Portland/Chicago/Copenhagen’s cold, wet and windy climate is not conducive to cycling.

Once again, I invite anyone who’s actually commuted by bike regularly in winter in places with climates similar to the abovementioned cities to make the claim made by our supposed government officials. You do not know what it’s like to cycle in a biting cold winter wind and freezing rain until you have actually done so. What makes it worse is that most people who make such statements haven’t even cycled regularly in Singapore themselves. It’s like someone who’s never climbed a mountain or done long-distance skiing proclaiming that climbing Everest is harder than going to the South Pole.

Safety in Numbers

This should surprise no one who’s cycled in cities where cycling on the streets is prevalent:

It seems paradoxical but the more people ride bicycles on our city streets, the less likely they are to be injured in traffic accidents, say injury experts who will speak at a forthcoming cycling safety seminar in Sydney.

Local and international research reveals that as cycling participation increases, a cyclist is far less likely to collide with a motor vehicle or suffer injury and death – and what’s true for cyclists is also true for pedestrians. And it’s not simply because there are fewer cars on the roads, but because motorists seem to change their behaviour and drive more safely when they see more cyclists and pedestrians around.

Studies in many countries have shown consistently that the number of motorists colliding with walkers or cyclists doesn’t increase equally with the number of people walking or bicycling. For example, a community that doubles its cycling numbers can expect a one-third drop in the per-cyclist frequency of a crash with a motor vehicle.

“It’s a virtuous cycle,” says Dr Julie Hatfield, an injury expert from UNSW who address the seminar on September 5. “The likelihood that an individual cyclist will be struck by a motorist falls with increasing rate of bicycling in a community. And the safer cycling is perceived to be, the more people are prepared to cycle.”

Experts say the effect is independent of improvements in cycling-friendly laws such as lower speed limits and better infrastructure, such as bike paths. Research has revealed the safety-in-numbers impact for cyclists in Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, 14 European countries and 68 Californian cities.

Emphasis mine.