Thursday, February 09, 2006

"Cycling track or obstacle course?"

"Cycling track or obstacle course?"
Letter from Elke Eskes-Frey. Today, 09 Feb 2006.
Pedestrian bridges along park connector give cyclists a back-breaking experience.

I grew up in an environmentally-conscious nation where people cycle not only to exercise, but also to commute and save energy — even if they have two cars at home. So, perhaps I was spoilt to think that I have rights on the road as a cyclist.

I don't cycle here because of drivers who hoot or push me off the road. I tried in the beginning, but soon found that I am too exposed to the risk of sudden death on the street, and am barely tolerated on the sidewalk. Until recently, I had not found any cycle track outside a park, which made it impossible to cycle with pleasure from one point to another.

But then, a stroke of luck: I picked up a map that informed me of the Government's plan to build a park connector network that will span over 300km once completed for pedestrians and cyclists alike.

I dusted off my bike and went to explore the already-completed Kallang and Whampoa connector. I could see myself riding, long hair blowing in the wind, along parks and canals.

But I ended up finding myself carrying the bike on my back, up and down one pedestrian bridge after another, finally reaching the Toa Payoh bridge with its six flights of stairs (or was it only five?).

My hair got covered in sweat and car fumes and could not even dry out in the short cycling stretches between the crossings.

Don't get me wrong — the ride was fun and educational. I learned about the concept of having numerous "No riding on bicycle" or "Get off bicycle" signs on a cycle track!

And I now know that Singapore's new park connector "caters to cyclists who prefer longer distances" — and especially to those who prefer carrying their beloved bike around for even longer ones.

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