Sometime during the middle of the two- year pandemic — around 4Q 2020 — cyclists on foldable bicycles (foldies) could be seen cycling along pavements, side roads, main roads and Mount Faber.
With the plethora of cyclists, why are there so few cycling to work? The perennial reasons are the heavy traffic and Singapore’s hot and humid weather. Increasingly, traffic needs no longer be an excuse, and with increasing end-of-trip facilities, heat and humidity isn’t an excuse either.
After a month of Sundays exploring various Park Connector Network (PCN) and cycling paths, the conclusion is this: cyclists can avoid the traffic if they plan to cycle from places such as Jurong, West Coast, Bukit Batok, Clementi, Punggol, Sengkang, Hougang, Ang Mo Kio, Toa Payoh, Bishan and Kallang to the CBD. The operative word is “plan”. The best way to plan these routes is to try them out, as I did, on the weekends.
Goola and her daughter at the iconic Lamp Post 1, Tuas South Boulevard
I followed two main routes which lead to the CBD: the Central Urban Loop; and Alexandra PCN where cyclists from Jurong, Bukit Batok, West Coast, Ghim Moh and Queensway can get to town. These routes largely avoid the traffic along main roads.
Residents in Ang Mo Kio, Bishan and Toa Payoh can get onto Kallang PCN (part of the Central Urban Loop) which goes all the way to the CBD. The exceptions along the way are road crossings either via traffic lights, or overhead bridges. Similarly, residents from Punggol, Sengkang and Hougang can use the north and notheast part of the Central Urban Loop. Punggol Waterway, Sengkang Riverside Park and Punggol Park all connect to Serangoon PCN which runs adjacent to the Serangoon River, connecting to Hougang Avenue 3 PCN, Pelton-Balam PCN and Kallang PCN.
Central Urban Loop
Cycling from Bukit Timah to Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and then onto the CBD is pretty straightforward. Exit the park at Bishan Road and take Kallang PCN all the way to Kallang Riverside Park; cross over to the Singapore Sports Hub; head towards the open space outside Kallang Wave Mall and onto Tanjong Rhu Promenade PCN and voila. This takes the cyclist to Gardens by the Bay, the Marina Barrage, Marina Bay Sands, The Esplanade and Clarke Quay.
I then tried the entire Central Urban Loop, from Bukit Timah to Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, Kallang PCN, Punggol and back to Bukit Timah through Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5 PCN, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Upper Thomson Road.
For the many young families who live in Punggol and Sengkang, cycling to the CBD can be enjoyable as they can avoid busy roads. They will need to get on Serangoon PCN from Punggol Waterway or Sengkang Riverside Park. The problem, after getting to the Tampines Road crossroads at the end of Serangoon PCN, is that Hougang Avenue 3 PCN is part of a pavement, and this goes all the way to the Breadtalk headquarters.
At the Tai Seng MRT junction, cross at the traffic lights and head to Balam-Pelton PCN, which takes you through the MacPherson Estate, all the way till it joins Kallang PCN. Turn to Kallang Riverside Park to get to the Sports Hub, Tanjong Rhu Promenade PCN, Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands (MBS), The Esplanade, Marina Bay and the CBD.
Cyclists heading towards Raffles Place, Suntec City or Marina Bay would need to get off the PCN at MBS and jostle with pedestrians and traffic to get to their place of work.
Cyclists who live in the west part of the island would need to get on to Alexandra Linear Park PCN and Alexandra PCN, which is just a few kilometres from Robertson Quay, Clarke Quay and the CBD. For those living in Jurong, Jurong PCN connects to Jurong Lake District. From Jurong Lake District, the PCN — along Jurong East Central — is under the MRT line, and needs to be shared with pedestrians. This PCN path connects to Ulu Pandan PCN, which stretches from Boon Lay Way to Ghim Moh.
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Jurong Lake Gardens
To avoid traffic, it’s best to get off Ulu Pandan PCN at Ghim Moh and go down to the Green Corridor towards Tanjong Pagar; exit at Alexandra Hospital, turn left and use Alexandra-Queensway PCN. This is actually the pavement along Alexandra Road, turning left to Queensway till you get to an entrance near SPC on Queensway. It’s easy to follow this part of Alexandra-Queensway PCN which connects to Alexandra Canal Linear PCN; and then onto Alexandra PCN after Tanglin Road. Alexandra PCN runs into Robertson Quay, Clarke Quay and the CBD.
Those who live in the West Coast can pick up Pandan Garden PCN which leads to Ulu Pandan PCN. Bukit Batok PCN, which runs along Bukit Batok East Avenue 6 from Bukit Batok Nature Park, connects to Ulu Pandan PCN as well.
An alternative route for those in Ghim Moh and Clementi is to just continue along the Green Corridor till the end. At Kampong Bahru, get off, head towards Blair Road and the conservation shophouse area near Tanjong Pagar. The Green Corridor runs from Kranji to Tanjong Pagar, but currently, the open stretch is from Rail Mall to Kampong Bahru, passing through One North, which has many office buildings.
When the North-South Corridor is ready in 2026, it will have bicycle lanes all the way from Woodlands to the CBD.
Before setting off on these various park connector paths, you will need a bicycle, a sturdy helmet, front and back lights, a handheld bicycle pump, tyre and inner tube repair kit, and some lubricant. Low-cost foldies are as good as high-end foldies on our flattish park connector paths and roads. More experienced cyclists may opt for road bikes and racers. Mountain bikes are great too, but they tend to be heavier than road bikes and racers, and may require more effort to carry up, down and over the various overhead bridges.
Most cyclists wear cycling shoes which clip on to their pedals. I suggest that beginners use ordinary pedals and sports shoes initially. There is no need to get into sophisticated pedals, brakes, shifters, frames and so on for the PCN paths.
Look out for bicycle and pedestrian road crossings. NParks and LTA have put up maps and signages at junctions of PCN paths and roads. Have your own journey mapped out beforehand, and keep a mobile phone ready to check on directions.
The newer buildings in the CBD are likely to have end-of-trip facilities for their tenants. Check with your place of work whether bicycle lots and end-of-trip facilities are readily available before cycling to work.
National Cycling Plan
The National Cycling Plan is a collaborative effort involving agencies such as LTA, URA, NParks, HDB, PUB and SportSG to make cycling a safe, healthy and convenient transport option for Singaporeans.
In 2013, the LTA announced it was building a cycling path network which, by 2030, will stretch to 1,300km in length.
The long-term aim is to provide all HDB towns with a comprehensive cycling network so residents can easily and safely cycle to MRT stations and neighbourhood centres. In addition, cycling paths in HDB towns are being linked to NParks’ PCN, LTA says. A code of conduct for cyclists and a national cyclist education programme are also being developed.
We already have an extensive cycling network, including the PCN, away from the traffic on main roads, more or less. Just hit the PCN and enjoy the ride.
Ride your bike but make it fashion!
Louis Vuitton bicycle helmet
Hermès commuter bicycle
Hermès Apple Watch leather band
Prada Linea Rossa Impavid sunglasses
Dior cycling shorts
Moncler packable cape
Brunello Cucinelli suede and techno fabric runners
Chanel UV Essentiel Complete Protection UV-Pollution SPF 50/PA++++