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Punggol joins growing list of ‘cycling towns’

SINGAPORE — With Punggol joining the ranks of cycling towns, now seven in total, the authorities have surpassed the halfway mark of building a cycle path network totalling 700 kilometres by 2030.

Punggol joins growing list of ‘cycling towns’

Cyclists, including Acting Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng, begin to cycle along cycling paths as DPM Teo Chee Hean flags off, at The launch of the Punggol cycling path network on Oct 30, 2016. Photo: Jason Quah

SINGAPORE — With Punggol joining the ranks of cycling towns, now seven in total, the authorities have surpassed the halfway mark of building a cycle path network totalling 700 kilometres by 2030.

Punggol’s 8.8km of dedicated cycling paths, launched on Sunday (Oct 30), will connect residents to key public transport nodes, such as its MRT and LRT stations.

Residents will also have a more seamless ride to nearby amenities such as the Punggol Waterway Point shopping centre and to the neighbouring Sengkang town via the Punggol park connector network.

When the first section of the Round Island Route — a continuous 150km park connector — is ready, cyclists can ride from Punggol to Gardens by the Bay East, zipping through Pasir Ris, Changi and East Coast Park en route.

Work on the first stretch of the route is set to begin by year end.

Before Punggol, cycle paths went up in Sembawang, Tampines, Pasir Ris, Yishun, Changi and Taman Jurong as part of the Land Transport Authority’s efforts to make journeys to and from public transport facilities more seamless.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Acting Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng, who is a Member of Parliament for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, said Punggol’s network will promote a healthier lifestyle among residents and provide good first- and last-mile connections.

“It’ll make car-lite Singapore a possibility in future,” he added, referring to the Republic’s vision of weaning people off cars.

More bicycle facilities have also been added: There are 325 bicycle parking spaces at Punggol MRT station, 40 per cent more than in 2013.

And Mr Ng, who is also Senior Minister of State (Transport), said he has asked the LTA to explore the possibility of installing racks around LRT stations.

“Some residents have fed back to me that they do cycle from their homes to LRT stations before they continue their journeys,” he said, adding that bicycle parking has been catered for at other amenities, such as Punggol Safra.

Residents who spoke to TODAY said the completed cycle paths could nudge them to cycle more often.

Bank technology manager Jonathan Tan, 49, said that the safety of the designated paths could spur him to cycle to work at least thrice a week.

It takes him more than an hour to cycle to his Shenton Way office, compared with 40 minutes on public transport. But he is willing to make the sacrifice: “I enjoy cycling, and I go to work fresher when I cycle.”

The new paths could also nudge public servant Foo Siang Huat into cycling to Punggol MRT station from his Punggol Field home, instead of taking the LRT. This would raise his fitness, he said.

On an island-wide scale, the Housing and Development Board will be adding 2,400 dual-bicycle racks in existing blocks and installing new racks for its new developments, Mr Ng said.

Meanwhile, the LTA unveiled a new website on Sunday to push for active mobility. Called Move Happy, the portal features articles and videos, including stories of people who have adopted such modes of transport daily.

But even as Singapore ramps up its cycling infrastructure, Mr Ng said it was important for everyone to play a part in making cycling safe.

“Cyclists and users of personal mobility devices must be considerate of pedestrians at all times in order for us to share our limited space safely,” he said.

On Thursday, two men, one of them only 18, were killed along West Coast Highway after a trailer truck left their power-assisted bicycles in smithereens.

When asked what the authorities would do to protect users’ safety, Mr Ng said educating users of personal mobility devices, including e-bikes, in areas such as road rules was key.

“But I’ve also asked LTA to look at upping our enforcement so that people are more aware of what are the right things to do,” he added.

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