Monday, December 16, 2013

Crossing a junction on bicycle

Crossing a typical junction (with side lanes) is quite simple on road. You just need to be aware of cars turning into the side lane when approaching. You will also need to be aware of impatient cars that will cut across your path at the first half of the crossing. After crossing, you will need to be aware of cars coming out from side lanes. Meanwhile, always keep a lookout for cars behind.

Crossing the same junction from a PCN is a quite different game. Upon approaching the side lane, you need to watch out for traffic from the front, left and right of the pedestrian walkway, behind,  and cars coming in to the side lanes. You will also need to look carefully on the ground for uneven surface as many such crossings are not as smooth as you think. Try to cross the side lane at junction between Sembawang Ave and Camberra Link on PCN in the direction towards Camberra and you will know what I mean. The short ramp is almost 45 degrees. You will even have to be aware of falling tree branches if it rains.

Upon reaching the island at the junction you will need to look out for traffic coming to and from the right if that corner's Green Man light is on.

When it is time to cross the road, you will face with another problem if the number of people crossing is big. The pedestrians usually ignores your presence. You will have no choice but to cycle at their speed. The keep to the left rule is almost non existing. People can cross you on the left and right. They can also change sides without notice. They can even stop to decide which way to go right in your path. It is generally not polite to ring your bell if the crowd is big. They don't actually bother that much about the Red Man turning on once they started.

Pedestrian crossings are designed such that you are given about 30 seconds or less to cross. On some busy roads, LTA have to install a card reading device for elderly people to tap their card to extend the time a bit more. Generally, the time starts when Green Man light is on. If you miss the short time frame, You will have to wait for the Green traffic light to Red. Then wait for the turning light to turn Red, Then wait for bus exit light (on some bus interchange exit) to turn red. Finally, you have to wait for the opposite traffic light to do exactly the same before the Green Man Light will turn on. I can tell you, on some busy roads or crazy junction this may take a few minutes just for your slot of  less than 30 seconds. It is, after all, a road crossings isn't it.

On reaching the other island of the junction, you must be aware that there are people who will change their direction to cross over to the other road. They will just turn towards it without noticing your presence. Worse of all, they will just stop there blocking your way. Unlike pedestrians, we can't change direction easily thus there is no way to cycle around them on the island like other pedestrians. We are unhappy that they block our way, they are unhappy that they have to move for you. It is a lose-lose situation.

Ok. You finally reach the last section of the crossing. You will still have to worry about traffics from pedestrian walk way and PCN coming towards you. As there is no distinct divide of the path, they can come from all directions. Also you will need to be aware of cyclists and pedestrians changing their path in front and behind you. Finally you will still have to be aware of cars on the side lanes ignoring your rights. Please do not forget about the condition of the path way. The pathway for PCN are usually painted brown. It is much harder to distinguish the curb from ramps. There is a particular spot near Yishun that have so many scratch marks on the curb that you wonder how many bicycles mistaken that it is a ram and try to go near it and then realize the mistake.

After one such crossing, you will get so tired that you will loathe the next couple of crossings to come.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Life as a Cyclist in Singapore

This is a third person description of a cyclist who lives in Singapore. Up till now Singapore still does not have cycling lanes on roads. As such he has to live a life on edges. Motorists can cut across his path because he is slow. Motorist can squeeze him out of the road by edging close till he hits a drain grail gap on the road or simply push him out of the road. Motorist can harass him by running parallel to him for no reason. If he raise his hand to signal, he is in danger of being hit on the hand as motorists can zoom pass him at close quarters. The 1.5 Meter gap guide is virtually non existing. Motorists can claim that he is transparent at a blind corner. All kind of reasons to make him feel intimidated on roads.

Earlier on, there is virtually no opportunity to cycle on pedestrian paths. It is still illegal to cycle on pedestrian pathways except in Tampines. At a certain time in history, he gets a respite because NParks create PCN that allows cycling. Upon trying, he get a shock. The speed limit is 15 KM max. He must dismount to push across bridges. He even have to push across road crossings where he had to share with pedestrians. He gave up and continues to cycle dangerously on roads.

The condition does improve any better when the Immigration check points were migrated. Now Causeway check point is on BKE. He still can access to the Immigration by going via Woodlands Center Rd but at busy hours, all traffics are directed to the express way. The worst is the Second Link. He cannot even try. He concluded that it will no longer be a good cycling experience to cross over to the neighbor country for a cycling tour.

After a while, a minister officially acknowledge that cyclists can cycle across pedestrian crossings that is part of PCN but must do so discretely so as not to endanger others ( He is also shocked to find that there is a fine of $5000 and a one year imprisonment for cyclists who are rash in crossings while motorist only gets $1000 and 3 months penalty. He also noted that reckless driving by motorist only incur $3000 and one year imprisonment. He began to wonder which mode of transport is more lethal. He reads that there are 18 cyclist deaths each year on average. He wonders how may dead pedestrians caused by cyclists.  He has lost count of how may times a motorist speed across the side road crossing despite that he already stopped at the crossing. Meanwhile the penalty of cycling across some bridges increases from $500 to $1000.

Even with the heavy fine, he decided that he should try the PCN. Upon trying, he discovered that cycling on PCN is not as easy as he though. There are places where the path is very wide and cycling is smooth. There are also some places where the path can be narrower than the width of his bike. At other times the path is so uneven that it feels like going on a roller coaster ride. He was shocked to see some path ends near road with right angle turns into a small lane or there is a pillar right in the center of the path. He is also sick of having to go around bus stops with right angle turns and sign boards right in the path. According to some, it was said that PCN are originally design for pedestrian only. It is only extended to cyclists as the distance get further and further.

After cycling through most of the PCN, he is sick of the NParks web site that shows the PCN routes. It is simply not user friendly. He has to zoom in at the right place to see the route. He need to find the route name to get to the route. He wonder why he has to get the name first rather than seeing the route first. He find it hard to plot a route from one place to another with that web site. Finally, he gave up and plotted the whole route with annotations on Google Map. With that, he could plan a route much easier. He called his map PCN on Bikes (

As he has gone through most of the PCN, he began to notice a lot of designs that is not really mean for cyclists. He got so sick of such inefficient design that he blogged about it in Blogger ( A Facebook group founder in a cycling group suggests him to show the exact issues by photos on a smaller stretch of route. He decided to try on the Woodlands Yishun route. As a result he produces 22 pictures where he think it can be improved ( He also wrote to NParks on the suggestion of the leader. NParks did respond to the mail. However, after 6 months, there is nothing done to improve the situation.

He then decided that he will go on PCN only when he is tired or in group cycling events. In this way he could cycle slowly without being very alert of motorists. He accept the remarks by a co founder of a group that PCN are 80% full and 20% empty. He don't want to treat it as useless unlike many of his fellow cyclists.
Recently he accept the request of the cycling group to try the URA Master Plan cycling route. He tried 4 of them. One out of 4 of them has many dismount and carry/push. He sigh again but realize that the route is really difficult to plan as it goes through places where the infrastructure does not give alternatives. He sadly accept the fact. One route goes through the Kallang Bishan PCN. He is relieved that there is something done to bypass the many dismount and carry along the Kallang river. He used to go on the route and find that he is usually the only one doing that. He beliefs that most cyclist snubs this route.
On and off he posts some PCN discrepancy on the cycling group's page. It usually attracts much comment and jokes about it. He did had a long exchange of words with a proponent of the bad design. He was wondering on which side the proponent is standing. Another proponent came in with similar remark and even say that the road crossing design is better. He really cannot stand such remark so he do a Google Street View on the route to see if that remark is true. It turned out that there are 5 similar crossings in the same route. 4 of which is joined with pedestrian crossings before crossing the road. The one in contention is actually quite far from the pedestrian walk way and that there is another pedestrian crossing (very near HDB block) near by. He thus concluded that the route is cut off not because of good design. It is just a poor design that does not consider the cyclist.
The master plan will not be complete till a number of years later. Meanwhile, he wonders whether he could live long enough to see it. He does hope that with the number of cyclists increasing, the government will do something to cater to the needs of cyclists.
It really strikes him that he know he has all the rights to use roads. Some how some motorists say he cannot use it because he did not pay road tax. Sadly to say that these ignorant motorists will only be forced to acknowledge the wrong view when he gets injured by them. And the worst thing is, he may not even live to see justice served when he gets killed. Talking about rights?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bicycle Path design

I have jokingly posted in FB on a bad design of a cycling path. It is about crossing on a carpark entrance. The design requires user to dismount and push across the road as there is no ramps lining both sides. A few others join in the fun by giving funny answers on how to cross. We were just having fun talking about it.

There is this proponents of the design who actually think that this is an acceptable design and chides us for being wanting to be "spoon fed". He wants us to live with it.

Since we were not that serious about criticizing the design, the post is not a welcoming message. As I started the posted, I am compelled to respond. I brought out the fact that it defeats the purpose of a cycling path if we cannot cycle on it. It is the fundamental reason for a cycling path.

I also point out that if a cyclist have to do it many times, cyclists will get weary of it. The proponent said that he has done it many times and does not have any effect. I pointed out that it will have an effect after a long cycling trip with many of this obstacles.

The proponent then deviates and ask me how "pedestrians cross the road". I bring the subject back to focus by saying that cyclist have to behave like pedestrians when crossing the road. There is no need for an extra step to dismount just to cross the road.

The proponent again criticizes the mention of "extra step". He then ask for the reason for "having no ramps but have pillars". He is obviously just based on the picture I posted. I draw example from PCN paths and point out various places where there are no pillars but have ramps. I also point out that some PCN have ramp and pillar too.

The proponent then switch the focus to "misuse" of the fact of no pillars. This is actually out of the point as I actually started with "no ramps" issue only. I simply pull the subject back to focus by relating the design to cyclists only.

The proponent then mix motorist and cyclists together and focus on misuse. I refute the contention and bring out the point that PCN does not have such protection on both too. I then challenge him to take the proposed route by URA from Punggol to City and comment about the number of obstacles need to go through. He avoided the challenge and say that I deviate from the point of contention.

I corrected him that my post is not just about one single issue. It is about the general design of cycling routes. In actual fact, I posted a long list of issues in PCN quite some time ago and have recently posted two separate issues on cycling paths.

The proponent agrees about the misunderstanding of the purpose of the post but still stress that it is not an issue. Obviously I also stress that one or two such obstacle is not an issue until you have to do a number of it at one time.

The proponent then suggest to avoid the obstacles. I pointed out that this is totally contrary to the purpose of having a cycling path.

The proponent then tries to soften the impact by saying that money is not an issue and that its use is more than just for cyclists. I don't want to point out the fact that this is a "dedicated cycling path" to him. I just concentrate on the bigger issue about "money is not an issue". I pointed out that it wastes tax payer's money and shows the world what Singapore can do with this type of design for cycling.

The proponents then goes quiet. Meanwhile others continues to joke about it. Surprisingly, another proponent posted a message saying that the design is better than another and that we should accept it.

I really find it hard to accept such baseless suggestion. I looked at Google map street view on the whole stretch of the cycling path in the specific area for the similarity of design. I found 5 crossings within the same route with all of the routes crossing carpark entrances from main road. Four of them joins to pedestrian crossing before crossing the road. The particular obstacle is a bit far from the usual pedestrian crossing where other paths join. There is also another pedestrian crossing close by but is very near the building.

I concluded that it is more difficult to join to the usual pedestrian path so the designer simply terminates the cycling path. It also does not makes no sense to have three crossings on a short stretch of the road.

II then reply with my findings to show that the particular design is not better but simply convenient decision by the designer without considering the cyclist. The second proponent did not respond.

The first proponent then rudely say that it is a wast of breath talking (in Cantonese spelled in English). Obviously I cannot take this comment lying down. First I agree with him that it is "a waste of breath" because he did not see out point. I also hinted that by agreeing with the designer, he is actually encouraging more bad designs.

Both proponents then fell silent. I will also give the case a rest until some proponent starts to suggest otherwise.

Please do not take it that I am a die hard opponent to dismounting on cycling paths. It is very much more difficult to design a cycling path on an existing infrastructure. I do accept that some dismounting crossings are inevitable as it may not be viable or economical to make life easy for cyclists. However, if there is a way to make life better for cyclists then due considerations should be made.

This particular issue is actually not an acceptable design. There are plenty of spaces available around the entrance to join the cycling path to the pedestrian walk way. I can live with having a "dedicated cycling path" sharing with pedestrians. I simply cannot accept that a "dedicated cycling path" requires cyclists to dismount because the designer decided that it is easier to design that way.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Cycling Rules

A set of rules were implemented for all cyclists in Singapore. This rule will govern the behavior of the cyclists. Rules are actually for the good of the cyclists. However, humans tends to take it as inhibitions. The result is that they will conveniently ignore the rules and do it their own way. This results in a number of extra accidents due to errant cycling.

Rules are good only if they are observed. It is pointless to talk about rules when people do not want to observe it. On the road, groups of cyclists tends to block the road regardless of faster cars behind them. They charge the red light thinking that they are king of the road. They shout at other slower cyclists to give way to them. They go on the middle of the road.

On the cycling path, they zoom regardless of the speed limit. They scream at people blocking their way. They speed pass you without warning. They ignore the pedestrian crossing. They ring their bells as if they are the only ones that have rights. etc.

Even when we observe the cycling rule on the road there is no guarantee that we are safe. Motorists cut across your path dangerously. They horn at you because you are slow. They go dangerously pass you at close quarters. They harass you by going side by side with you for no reason. They even tried to squeeze you out of the road by going nearer and nearer to you. Some are so malicious that they speed pass cyclists and then suddenly stops in front of them

All these happens despite there are rules. Luckily not many people does it this way. I see motorists tailing cyclists instead of passing them dangerously. I see motorists patiently let cyclist pass by on their right. I see motorists wave cyclists on despite they have the right of the way. I see motorists encourages cyclists to go on.

Rules does not govern every aspects of cycling. What if there are gray areas. For example, both cyclists and pedestrians have the right to go on PCN. PCN rules are quite straight forward. Speed limit is 15 KPH and always keep to the left. They don't say how many person can go side by side. They don't tell you how you should behave with other people around you.

There are lots of people who do not know what to do on PCN. It applies to cyclists and pedestrians alike. Pedestrians are not aware that they are sharing the road with cyclists. They tends to go in big groups. They walk in the middle of the path., They are not aware of faster moving users behind them. They do not know how to behave when cyclists approach them in front or behind. They often split up their group by going on the left and right when cyclists approach them thus making it more difficult for the cyclists. They do not respond to bells to give way. They cross from one side to the other without looking out for cyclists. They walk on cycling paths when there is a pedestrian path just beside it.

Cyclists on the other hand does not act kindly to pedestrians. They ring their bells as if they are the only one that have rights. They do not slow down for other path users. They are rude to other users. They also go in groups instead of single file. They speed on the path.

My conclusion to cycling rules is that we should follow the rules and waive our rights to facilitate other users. If the road is congested, by all means give motorist the rights to move on faster. Give way and wave them on if possible. Use hand gestures to show your appreciation of them. Keep a keen lookout for wayward motorists. Don't show your anger at them who do not follow the rule.

On PCN, just be patient with ignorant path users. They may not even know how to behave with cyclists around. Try not to ring the bells unnecessary. Use verbal gestures if necessary. Follow them till there is an opening for you to pass. Do not be angry at those who do not give way or block your way.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

East Parks

This trip is to make up for those smaller park that I did not visit in my previous trips. The distance required to go through all the parks is quite long thus I changed to cycling activity instead.

The first park to visit is Green Oval. There is no plants that interests me in there.

The next park is Brontosaur Park. It sounded like a Dinosaur park to me but I am very disappointed that it has nothing to do with Dinosaurs. Many stainless steel sculpture are in the park. As I am not really interested in the man made things, I skipped all that without taking a single picture as there are no interesting plants available. On exiting the park, I came a cross a play ground with a Dinosaur toy in it. it is a Triceratops. Well, at least I get to take a picture of a Dinosaur.
I have visited Pasir Ris Town Park before but have not gone through the part of the park that is in my route. I had to go through it anyhow as this park is right in between the previous park and the Atlantis Park. Unfortunately, it is a fruitless detour. No picture of interest is taken.

Sea Shell Park has a sea shell theme. However, it is still man made and there are no interesting plants available. I go through it empty handed again.

Pasir Ris St 21 Park is a small park. It is just not my day. I took no digital image of the plant there.

Park Aquaria is yet another of the small parks. No luck here too.

I finally found one worthy plant while cycling on a cycling path. It is a Forget-me-not.

My happiness soon turn to disappointment. The cycling path cuts across a HDB car park entrance but it is not suitable to cycle across the road. The curbs are not slopped. This is again another obstacle by the designers. The foot path on both sides of the path are slopped (just 10-20 meters away). Why they design a cycling path like that is a mystery.

The disappointment caused me to lost track of direction and end up going around in a HDB Carpark. Finally, managed to get hold of myself and is able to continue on the path.

After crossing a pedestrian bridge, I saw this small Morning Glory growing on the barrier of the bridge. Could not get a nicer picture because I forget to bring my L27.
Along the Park Connector, I saw this White Dillenia. A very large flower.

I skipped the Eco Park and Sunplaza Park as I have gone through them in previous trips. 

Tampines Central Park gives me at least one chance to take a picture. It is a Peregina, a very common but nice plant.

I have gone through Bedok Town Park before. I had to go through it again as it is the only way to avoid going on roads.

There are small gardens in the park. I took a picture of a Panama Rose. It is too blurred thus I don't want to show it here. Instead the picture of a White Adler nearby is still acceptable. The Android camera just cannot focus on the right thing or maybe I get too close to the flower.

The exit of the park is blocked by construction. I had to use the sheltered walkway along Bedok North Road as there is no way to cross the road except the overhead bridge which I cannot access.

Took a picture of a Betel nut palm (I think). Google suddenly decided to make it "Awesome" by changing it to a GIF with animation. I actually don't care about the awesomeness of GIFs.

The last park has no name. I found a tree planted by a big shot minister. It is a Cook Pine.

The route plan has a big flaw. Part of Kaki Bukit Ave 1 is closed for construction. Took a big loop around to go to Eunos Rd. The trip ends at Eunos Rd.

The WikiLoc route map is here.

The Picasa Album is omitted as most pictures already appeared here.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Vivo to Tiong Bahru

This trip is a tour of three parks and a short cut through Faber Park via the Malang Trail. The trip starts from Vivo city (Harbor Front MRT).

The route starts at Marang Rd. There is a sign board at the entrance so you can't miss it at all.

At the end of the Malang Trail, There is a trail going down hills just slightly to the right of the Malang trail exit. It is across the Mt Faber Rd. Just before going down, I saw this Pink Trumpet Vine plant growing on the overhead cover of pedestrian walk.

That flower is the only plant picture I took. Since the trail goes a nature forest, there isn't much to take picture on.

At the Purmei Park, this Peregrina grows beautifully but sparsely. You will notice that the flower is wet. It is still drizzling. Again, this is the only flower picture I took in the park.

Saw this Xanadu Philodendron growing on a tree along Lower Delta Rd.

Henderson Park has been cut short. The elongated part has been made a car park and a Point block building is right in the middle. I noticed that there is a security sitting at the point block lift entrance. This is quite a surprise to me as it looked just like any HDB block.

Anyhow, there isn't much plant in the now small park. I notice this QRCODE tagged on to a tree. It is a code that I cannot understand. You can see the text of the code below the code.

At both end of the park are maps that show the visitor where they are. Consider that the park is opened in 2004, it is very seasoned.

Some where near the middle of the park is a infected Crepe Myrtle. You can see the infected leaves in both pictures.

The white Thunbergia is my favorite. There are normal bluish ones growing too but I did not take any picture of them.

This Shower of Gold (climber) grows at the bottom of a structure. There are other plants growing on the structure.

Further down there are Corkscrew flower growing. It is not so nice to look at thus I only use my Android to take a picture of it.

The trip ended at Tiong Bahru MRT.

The WikiLoc trail map is here.

One point to note about WikiLoc is that its ranking system keep changing. I am quite disappointed that it will not keep constant. However, I am not really keen to play the game they intended user to do.

WikiLoc included "trip buddy" in the page but some how excluded my participation in all the trips I went. At least they should recognize that I had went through the trip right?

Most of the pictures are shown here already so I will not include the link to my Picasa Album for this trip.