Singapore’s lack of cycling facilities

Spiegel Online is featuring this short article about a new global index on the quality of cycling in global cities. The index was prepared by a Danish blogger and cycling expert who runs the blog No surprise, Amsterdam and Copenhagen top the ranking of 20 cities. Sadly though only one Asian city makes it into the index: Tokyo (a very positive top 4). Unfortunately, it is not clear if other Asian cities are excluded because they have not been considered for assessment or because of their low quality of cycling infrastructure. Of all the big Asian cities I have seen, none struck me with any kind of an impressive cycling environment (Taipeh possibly having the biggest chances though).

Singapore (for once) trailing global cities in life quality?

After having spent a bit of time in Singapore, I wonder why this city is not investing far more attention and infrastructure to cycling. Surely, the all-year humid climate and temperatures for 30 degress during the day are not permitting a cool 10-minute bike-ride to university as relaxed as in Berlin. But then again, the government is very keen to emphasise health issues and constraining car traffic with some of the highest obstacles (i.e. prices) to car driving in the world. Would it not make more sense to start providing bike lanes on at least the big roads? Nowadays, you do not even know where to go as a cyclist in Singapore because roads are crowded and dangerous – and pavements are often too narrow even to walk.

Just like in other business metropolis, many offices (read: banks) and public institutions (read: schools, universities or even ministries) already have showers and changing rooms so that even longer bike rides to work or school should pose no major obstacle. I just do not know why Singapore politicians do not see cycling as such a big chance to ramp up the ‘green’ image of their city?

A particularly positive cultural side-effect of opening Singapore to cycling would be that its citizens would regain a more natural affiliation to their city. While the typical Singaporean today is avoiding even the 5-minute walk to the super market around the corner, creating a ‘hipness’ about biking and bikes might also allow them to appreciate the physical nature and spacial use of their city much more.

5 thoughts on “Singapore’s lack of cycling facilities

  1. Yeo Kian Hwee

    I have been staying in Singapore for 9 years now and I cycle to work for the past 10 months, a single way to work is about 11km for me.

    I believe incentive plays a part in everything in our life, even issue like bike lane. With current transportation system (Bus/Car/COE/ERP/Petrol/Workshop), many party are involve and promoting cycling won’t be much a attractive choice for them.

  2. Philip Lee

    Hi. I am a 54 year old Singaporean. I have been cycling for years regularly to get to places in Singapore. I feel that generally the roads in Singapore are safe and quite well constructed. Its a matter of being responsible by cycling considerately. Giving way to pedestrians and signalling early to other road users (especially cars and motorbikes) does help in ensuring the safety of the cyclist. Being courteous and waving a thank you to fellow road users also helps to make cycling pleasant. However, I must admit that mistakes are frequently made when I am rushed for time or when the rain is coming down. Besides taking personal responsibility, I think it is high time that the government plan to construct cycling lanes in most roads. This is in keeping in line with going green, healthy living and reducing congestion. I’ve been to Japan and I am impressed on the cycling culture there. Provisions were certainly made by their governemnt.

  3. Jan Post author

    Interesting comments Kian Hwee and Philip – and glad to see that there are some cyclists!
    Around my area at Bukit Timah I don’t see many commuter-cyclists. I totally agree with you that bike lanes would make such a big difference. Is there no one lobbying for that in this city?

  4. Attilio Rapisarda

    Hi! I am a commuter by bicycle myself. In response to Jan, this association – – does try to promote cycling and a commuting system and does try to lobby the government on this issue.

  5. Pingback: The Government and Its Chains on Cycling… « 4P's Reading Programme Blog

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