He feels guilty driving

He feels guilty driving

In a country of upgraders, Mr Francis Tang is a downgrader.

And a proud one too.

Six years ago, he bought a Chevrolet Aveo. Two years after that, when Certificate of Entitlement (COE) premiums skyrocketed, he also bought a second-hand Yamaha Fazer motorcycle for $5,000.

Now, it's a foldable bicycle. And there's no COE to contend with, said Mr Tang, 34, a Physical Education teacher .

A trip to Amsterdam, Holland, three years ago helped him make up his mind.

Said Mr Tang: "There were no cars on the road, and it was like paradise. Everybody was conveniently cycling everywhere."

After his return, he felt guilty driving a car and riding his motorcycle. He felt he was polluting the environment.

It took Mr Tang three months to get used to the rigour of cycling 20km from his Pasir Ris flat to his school at Outram.

"I stop by the gym near the school to have a quick workout, before taking a shower," Mr Tang said.

He then changes into a fresh set of clothes that he carries in his backpack. It used to take him 90 minutes, but three months of practice has helped him shave 30 minutes off the travelling time.

The practice also increased his endurance and stamina for the bike journey home.

He used to leave the school with his foldable bike only at 8pm to take the MRT home, as that is when he is allowed to take his foldable bike on trains.

Even during the weekends, the father of one cycles as much as he can. He makes an exception only when he is going out with his wife and two-year-old.

That, too, will soon be a thing of the past, as the Tang family is now looking for a buyer for their car.

"My wife is thinking of cycling to work too," he said.

With higher COE prices, Mr Tang is driven further away from cars.

Today, the COE for a Category A car stands at $85,000 and it is $93,500 for a Category B vehicle.

"Now that the COE is so high there's no way I can get a car," he said. Not that the fluctuating COE is going to change his mind, he said.

"There's no way I will own a car. I really don't like cars now. I really enjoy every single (bicycle) commute.

"I told myself I will never change," said the bicycle convert.

Mr Tang sees himself still cycling even when he pushes past 70.

"When I was in Amsterdam, I saw many people in their 70s, 80s still cycling. I don't think I'll ever stop, unless I have a back injury," he said.

fjieying@sph.com.sg


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