Closure of southern stretch of the Rail Corridor, 2016 Q2 to 2018/9

About half of the new 22 km Murnane pipeline is being laid under the Rail Corridor, from Bukit Timah to Tanjong Pagar. This project lays a new set of water pipes to carry water from the Murnane Service Reservoir to Marina South & Fort Canning Service Reservoir in the city, to meet future demands and replace ageing pipes [link].

The work is being done in phases and the southern stretch of the Rail Corridor is being closed as follows:

  • Closed 2016 Q4 (reopened 2018 Q4) – Jalan Anak Bukit Holland Road
  • Closed 2016 Q2 (reopened 2017 Q4) – Holland Road to Commonwealth Ave
  • Closed 2016 Q3 (reopened 2018 Q4) – Commonwealth Ave to Jalan Kilang Barat
  • Closed 2016 Q3 (reopened 2019 Q4) – Jalan Kilang Barat to former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

PUB had discussions with the before the announcement in June 2014.

Thanks to Jerome Lim for his many posts about this project since 2014 to keep us informed.

Zendogs riding again, cautiously

It’s not the Olympics but a cautious 25km during Car Free Day is a nice way to restart our Zendogs rides. This ride was entirely on empty roads and PCNs. Got to shake off the flu and tackle longer distances once again in more remote parts of Singapore. Our rides have been a great way to recce field sites for teaching, research and coastal cleanups.

Zendogs  City Hall Car Free Day
Zendogs: Airani, Kenneth, Joelle, Otterman, Kevin

150 mins exercise per week? In only seven of twelve months in 2015!

I have used Runkeeper on my iPhone since 2010 and I try to activate the app each time I engage in any activity I’d record as exercise. This includes cycling (on road), mountain biking (this year was mostly Rail Corridor and Pulau Ubin), brisk walking (mostly PCNs) and hiking (field trips and coastal cleanups). If I am trapped at home by the haze, or need to build my fitness before going on a hike or long ride, I turn to the elliptical and stair-climbing.

Singapore’s Health Promotion Board recommends that individuals “aim for 150 minutes of physical activity every week” [HPB]. That works out to 600 mins/month (ignoring evenness). Having tried a little harder this year, I wondered if I spent enough time on exercise in 2015, i.e. did I at least achieve the minimum every month?

According to my Runkeeper data, I reached 600mins/month on only seven months in 2015. That’s unnerving.

Sivasothi N._s Runkeeper Fitness Report – Duration 2015

The months of my terrible first semester (Aug – Nov) see reduced activity every year, and this was badly dampened by the haze this year – and not made up with time on the elliptical. Other sub-par months were February and June – perhaps dampened by bouts of the flu. On the other hand, I managed a decent 1,000 mins of activity in January, May and July.

Now that I know how 2015 worked out, let’s see what I can do about it next year. Wish me luck!

A cycling-friendly city where no one looks like a cyclist! (UK’s Chris Boardman gawks in Utrecht)

British Cycling policy advisor Chris Boardman detours from tour de France to comment on the evolution of a cycling city in Utrecht in The Netherlands – an evolution because it didn’t happen overnight. The catalyst of the shift from a motor to bicycle-centric design of urban spaces include road fatalities especially that of children and the 1973 oil crisis.

So the people-first policy is decades years in the making. The liability laws (stronger protects weaker), giving way on turns and keeping safe by providing enough space, commuting at low speeds, the supportive laws and citizen familiarity with cycling from an early age are really some four decades in the making.

So there the bicycle is an everyday tool, for regular folk.

We need’t be wistful. I see more of this being addressed and emerging in Singapore. Admittedly, while I can cycle safely and enjoyable from Holland Village to Marina Barrage, cycling next door to Ghim Moh might kill me!

LTA says wait for it – it will come. And by their enthusiasm, I think we won’t have to wait 40 years.

Cycling from Holland Village to Marina Bay – without traffic!

Last week, I woke up a from a deep snooze and took a lovely early morning bicycle ride from Holland Village to Marina Bay. I visited the smooth-coated otter family of six there, and all without battling traffic. Wasn’t that lovely?

The male smooth-coated otter at Gardens by the Bay
(30 Jan 2014; photo by Phira Unadirekkul)

Male otter GBB sleeping

To the rescue from morning peak hour traffic were lovely park connectors, some pavements and a couple of pedestrian crossings. Sharing paths with pedestrians is pleasant as I travel at their speed when needed and never need to ring a bell at anyone – and I greet people along the way. I keep safe at traffic crossings, in case of errant vehicles, by staying alert and following traffic rules to the letter.

From Holland Village, I avoid the busy Commonwealth Road by cycling through Commonwealth Crescent through back roads and then ride the pavements down and up Queensway to reach the quiet Margaret Drive, an interesting area locked in time for now at least.

Next, the canal PCNs provide me relief from the traffic of Alexandra Road, Ganges Avenue and Havelock Road – I join Alexandra Canal Linear Park from Margaret Drive and that links to the Alexandra Park Connector. In the final reaches of the river, I am using the wide walkways at Zion Road, Robertson Quay and Clarke Quay.

Then it is a hop, skip and jump (a few options are available) to reach the barrier-free path at Gardens by the Bay and time to say hello to the otter family in the bay and the avocado milkshake at the hawker centre (Satay by the Bay).

The ride traces the Alexandra branch of the Singapore River, as you can see in this PUB watershed map:

SG Central Watershed  PUB

If you are living in the neighbourhood, do explore the Alexandra PCNs. There are interesting and developing features along this canal. The maps below link to the relevant webpages.

World Water Day: ride, crash, clean, rain

We went for the Singapore World Water Day (Re)Cycle ride and it was well organised and a lovely morning ride. It’s a pity I didn’t have time to persuade more friends to join us. 

We got Kok Min Yee to ride his new Tern bicycle, which is excellent. 

2015 03 21 10 47 41 HDR

After the event, we did agonise over the practise of handing out impractical-sized goodie bags filled with unsustainable items even during resource-sensitive events. No mention of water conservation. We need to fix this.

2015 03 21 09 07 35

I ran down the barrier at my neighbourhood when I tried to slip through the gap which they have widened recently after I asked. I put the barrier aside and called the company to fix it – both barrier and myself were unscathed but there is a need need to widen the gap further for cyclists!

2015 03 21 11 42 15

I tweeted the afternoon mangrove cleanup with this tag #WorldWaterDay.

“Cycling downstream along Sungei Pandan to NUS Toddycats & friends at the World Water Day mangrove cleanup!”

2015 03 21 16 10 29

Runkeeper thought I was an otter swimming downstream.

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“Reached the Sungei Pandan site; it’s not a pretty sight amidst the mangrove, downstream of this precious river.”

2015 03 21 16 38 46

2015 03 21 16 38 05

“Sungei Pandan mangrove, a precious fragment of a once extensive forest. ”

2015 03 21 17 00 01 HDR

“In the mangrove, reflections of a throwaway culture; no mangrove, beach, sea or ocean is spared #WorldWaterDay”

2015 03 21 17 01 59

“Most common trash: plastic bottles, plastic bags, straws, styrofoam pieces – single use items”

2015 03 21 17 10 17

“Alongside the cleanup, a Nature Society (Singapore) survey of Sg Pandan mangrove for ancient horseshoe crabs”

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“Mangrove cleanup and surveys must balance between impact and benefit; so slow and steady does it”

2015 03 21 17 22 51

“Keeping one eye on the sky for lightning threat”

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2015 03 21 17 28 40

“What lies underfoot in Sungei Pandan mangrove? Red berry snails, Sphaerassiminea miniata my favourite!”

2015 03 21 17 31 48

“Insult of plastic eliminated. Since 2006, regular cleanups have reduced trash load at Sg Pandan”

2015 03 21 17 20 12

“On the way to the cleanup – six otters in Sungei Pandan!”

2015 03 21 17 52 47

“Tallying data and cleaning up as the storm blows in”

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“Thanks for an excellent and sensitive job! Sungei Pandan mangroves is a less polluted habitat!”

2015 03 21 18 08 28

Ng Kai Scene shared on LINE that working with Independents in the mangrove is balm to the soul of ICCS Otters. A motivated bunch, they inspire us always for sure, and did so again today. Kai Scene has been tasked to elaborate on the News from ICCS blog.

Back home through the rain, I looped Pandan Reservoir then watched the river fill up with water and sediment (and some litter) and had most of the PCN to myself.

It was torture waking up to Google Hangout with an honours student. And I’ll have more of that tomorrow, so I can’t ride – it’s that time of the year, the honours poster oral exam.

Wah! Ministry of Transport says, “Five reasons to cycle more in Singapore”!

A decade ago, my cycling kakis looked yearningly at Canadian Ministries of Transports to learn from their comprehensive research findings and information about cycling. this evening, I returned to Facebook after a CNY hiatus to see this and exclaim! Singapore’s Ministry of Transport webpage featuring reasons for cycling in such a prominent way.

I particularly like Reason no. 5, and through the long rides, I have learnt much more about various neighbourhoods and other nooks and crannies in Singapore. I do wish we had a calmer island but the PCNs and wayside trees have helped.

5 reasons to cycle more in Singapore | Ministry of Transport Singapore  No 5

But this is simply a tip of the iceberg phenomenon. There has been considerable activity for at least half a decade at least and it has been a struggle to keep the Cycling in Singapore blog updated. Perhaps it has not been as important to do so, as comprehensive discussions were appearing in mainstream press. Many are still gnashing their teeth from day to day encounters, so two year ago I thought I should sound out that I was actually feeling optimistic. The way ahead is still a long one, though, make no mistake, like it has been in many other cities.

It has been nice to see various individuals from the larger community of cycling use and management prioritise meeting attendance when called on by government officers. And they are work together to pave the way for a healthier and safer city.