Thursday, 24 December 2015

Singapore's first on-road bicycle lanes being built on Sentosa

Experts say network on resort island could be a test bed for such lanes in other areas
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 23 Dec 2015

Singapore's first on-road bicycle lanes are being built - on the resort island of Sentosa.

The Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) has started work on its network of bright green bicycle lanes, and they are due to be completed by the middle of next year.

The Straits Times observed that about 400m of metre-wide paths have been built so far - along Allanbrooke Road towards Sentosa Cove and Woolwich Road. Work is also under way on another stretch of Allanbrooke Road.

An SDC spokesman said the new lanes are "part of efforts to provide added convenience and a better experience for cyclists", adding that more details will be made available when the network is complete.

The island has an existing cycling network, but these paths are largely shared by pedestrians and cyclists.

The move by the SDC - a statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry - is the latest in Singapore's efforts to encourage a cycling culture.

Last week, The Straits Times reported that new road crossings are being built to make cycling and walking on park connectors safer.

And earlier this month, plans were announced to transform Ang Mo Kio into a model cycling and walking town by 2018. Its 20km cycling network will be used to pilot new concepts and infrastructure, such as elevated cycling paths and pedestrian priority zones.

On-road bicycle lanes have been advocated by cycling enthusiasts for some time, but the Government has said repeatedly that it will focus on building cycling infrastructure off the road.

Under its National Cycling Plan, it wants to build such a cycling network, spanning 700km by 2030.

In 2013, then Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said in Parliament that on-road cycling is risky because of Singapore's heavy traffic.

But Sentosa Cove resident Rusti Castillo feels the new lanes will make cycling a lot safer - given that the roads there are used heavily by big tour buses - as the bike lanes will give cyclists their own space.

He hopes that the network will eventually link to the mainland.

"Then people would be able to take their bikes and go out to Vivo-City, where they can go shopping," said the 48-year-old, who works in the maritime industry.

Experts feel the Sentosa project could be a test bed to find out whether on-road cycling lanes could be adopted in other areas.

Co-founder of cycling group Love Cycling SG Francis Chu pointed out that most road lanes in Singapore are wide enough to accommodate bicycle lanes, and if lane widths are cut, it would make roads safer for all.

"Bike lanes allow cyclists to ride with confidence and the narrower roads will also help motorists drive safer because narrower lanes help moderate speed," he said.

Transport consultant Gopinath Menon said cyclists are legally supposed to ride on the road but many do not do so out of fear for their safety. This is a "good experiment", he said.

Sentosa is a popular recreation spot with beaches, hotels and attractions such as Universal Studios. Mr Menon added: "There are some issues to iron out, for example, at bus stops, when buses have to pull in."

Dr Alexander Erath, a transport researcher at the Singapore-ETH Future Cities Laboratory, said that while the project might seem to have limited impact with Sentosa's small user base, it "sends a clear message to the motorist that the road should not only be designed for them, but also for cyclists and pedestrians".

* Cycling, walking trails on Sentosa revamped
Cycling network now about 12km long, while six routes for pedestrians cover about 7.5km
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 13 Dec 2016

More than 8,000 cyclists have been tracked using Sentosa's on-road cycling lanes since April, the resort island told The Straits Times recently.

The Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) started building a network of on-road bicycle lanes - the first of its kind in Singapore - last year. Yesterday, it announced the launch of its revamped walking and cycling trails.

The island's cycling network has been boosted by the 4.5km-long on-road stretch and now stretches about 12km.

The cycling trails start at the Sentosa Boardwalk beside VivoCity. To avoid road traffic before the island's entrance, cyclists use a dedicated track beside the boardwalk, and then ride through an underpass.

The underpass was closed in 2007 when construction for the Resorts World Sentosa integrated resort began, and re-opened in June this year to give cyclists access to the island.

Cyclists pay $2 to enter the island.

The island's six walking trails, which cover about 7.5km, also connect the island with the Southern Ridges on mainland Singapore, the SDC in its statement.

The island is waiving admission fees for pedestrians who access the island via the boardwalk until the end of next year.

The SDC said its walking and cycling network "strengthens connectivity" and complements existing on-island transportation such as the monorail, buses, beach trams and cable car.

"With the seamless link to the Singapore mainland via the Sentosa Gateway and enhanced connectivity on the island provided by our network of cycling tracks and walking trails, guests now enjoy easy access to the island's pristine and quiet natural environment," said SDC assistant chief executive Jacqueline Tan.

Cyclist Dennis Cheong, 47, visited the island last week and said the new cycling trails are "a lot safer" than trying to enter Sentosa from the main road.

Mr Cheong, a researcher, said he is hoping the Sentosa Express monorail will allow foldable bikes on board.

"They should allow foldable bikes since they already allow strollers, if its raining, cyclists might have to take the monorail out," he said.

SDC said it does not encourage taking foldable bikes on the monorail trains for safety reasons, as the train carriages are smaller than those on the MRT.

Mr Francis Chu, co-founder of cycling group Love Cycling SG, said Sentosa could be a test-bed for whether on-road cycling lanes could be replicated elsewhere on the mainland.

"We should learn and observe how Sentosa is doing and maybe experiment in (cycling towns such as) Pasir Ris and Bedok," he said.

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