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.

3 Responses to “Here We Go Again”

  1. 1 Sprinklerhead December 1, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Great blog. I check it regularly. I cycle to work everyday – 7k to and 7k from – and it is simply the best way to commute. Arriving at work energized and pumped up is great, and the time it takes to travel to and fro is much less than by private car or public transport. I think the biggest challenge to cycling in Singapore is negative perception – Singaporeans perceive cycling as ‘low class’ – especially as a daily necessary activity such as commuting. They are wed to their cars (those that can afford) and the (perceived) prestige they provide.

  2. 2 Back2Nature December 11, 2008 at 4:57 am

    I was in Las Vegas last month and now I am much more appreciative of our hot/wet weather that is MORE conducive to cycle. I was considering the option of cycling a 12km distance with concerns about the weather and safety. Luckily, eventually I rented a car and later realized the cold/dry weather there is not possible to cycle, at least for me. I was already shivering within minutes walking outdoor. Nevertheless, I saw the hotel securities cycling around the compound and one or two cycling besides the highway, but they were in proper cycling attire that probably keep them less cold.

    Thus, I would rephrase the statement as:
    “One argument offered by government officials is that Singapore’s hot and humid climate is not conducive to cycling over driving or taking public transports, both air-conditioned at low temperatures.”

    Then, by the same argument, “Singapore’s hot and humid climate is not conducive to walking and running.”

    I believe the “low class” perception will diminish when more foreigners and professional people start to cycle here.

  3. 3 Roger January 7, 2009 at 9:54 am

    I have been cycling to & fro work for the past 3 months (Sep-Dec’08, with occassional showers – prepared with a set of motorbiking rain-gear in my bicycle box). A change of cloths at the work place, definitely no issue cycling in Singapore, except of the culture of not giving way to cyclist on the left lane.
    So occasionally have to jump onto pavement where there are no pedestrains. Otherwise, its the ultimate traffic jam solution.

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