On-road cycling lanes being built on Sentosa

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".

This article was first published on December 23, 2015.
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