Sentosa gets first on-road bike lanes

SINGAPORE'S first on-road bicycle lanes have been built - on the resort island of Sentosa.

The Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) has started work on its network of bright green bicycle lanes and it is 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 underway 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 shared when the network is complete.

The island currently has an existing cycling network, but these comprise largely of shared paths for pedestrians and cyclists.

Experts said the move by the SDC - a statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry - is a significant and symbolic one, and the latest in Singapore's transformation to a cycling nation.

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

Earlier this month, plans were also 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 roads.

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 due to 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 plied 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 VivoCity 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. He said this is a "good experiment", adding: "There are some issues to iron out, for example at bus stops, when buses have to pull in."

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 is not available only to them, but to cyclists and also maybe pedestrians".

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