Saturday, May 31, 2008

Notes from my 10 over years riding in Singapore

Inspired by Mr. Brown’s blog entry Things I Learned Riding Every Day to Work for a Year in Singapore, here are some notes from my 10 over years riding to work and many places in Singapore and sometime to JB. Although I like it and find it usually faster than public transport, I don't encourage ... friends to do likewise because the danger is very real.

1. I sense improvement in the attitude of drivers towards cyclists since 1996, but majority still quite poor.

2. TIBS buses seem wider than SBS ones, so be careful.

3. Those CatEye front light seems not economical if I were to switch it on throughout regular night trips. Those white LED lights are more suitable since bicycle front light in Singapore is not really for lighting up the road but to let people/drivers see us.

4. I know how to change inner tube, but usually took 20-30 minutes, while nice uncles do it in 5 minutes and workmanship ~S$1 only. By the way, if a new inner tube leaks after few days, it is time to change the tire.

5. The trip that triggered me to ride more often is when I was trying to find a safe parking for my bike in Clementi as I need to go to Tanjong Pagar, but eventually decided to cycle there. It took me 45 minutes on a 24” MTB. Indeed, it isn’t that far as I thought. After I lost the 24” bike and gotten a 26”, I realized it is faster and easier to ride bigger wheel bikes. No wonder those Ah-bek bikes are 28”.

6. I learned clouds analysis to decide what kind of rain and the direction of rain. First time, when the rain has stopped, I just moved on wondering why those motorcyclists still not moving out? I rode into the rain a few minutes later. Thus, I realized that rain don’t stop, it is the clouds that move away. Rain also don’t start and stop, it is some holes in the clouds that passes my location.

7. Once upon a time, riding bicycle to cross the causeways during peak hours is the fastest way. However, after the improvement on Singapore side, I have to jam together with the motorcyclists.

8. I managed to attain silver award for my IPPT without any training before the test during those years that I cycle regularly average of 1.5 hours per day when I need to go out.

9. Many bicycle facilities and rules are designed by people who don’t ride bicycles. Our bicycle stands is not secured enough easily only front wheel remains. To ask cyclists to dismount before using pedestrian crossing a road is like asking drivers to stop at stop signs, which I think 99.9% don’t. It is safer, less space occupying to ask cyclists to slow to walking speed when approaching, and crossing pedestrian crossings.

10. Wearing rain coat keep me from the rain water but doesn’t keep me dry. I will still be wet from the trapped humid and sweat.

11. Indeed, helmet and gloves are no substitute. The minimum standard is zero accident and zero almost accident situation. I find gloves are inconvenience to carry and use. I only used a helmet during my 80 minutes trips to and fro Toa Payoh and NTU, for safety and also, actually more, for blocking the sun.

12. Racers are fast and light, but it is meant for racing. I find it not suitable on non-racing paths/roads. Tumbling over a fist size object at the high speeds of racers should be quite bad.

13. Send clear signal, not hand signal which reduce your control and responsiveness. E.g. I filter rightwards riding into the left lane when I don’t expect drivers to overtake me. I stopped few meters away from zebra crossing when I don’t need drivers to stop for me.

14. Pavements are more dangerous than roads to the cyclists because it is not built for wheels and pedestrians don’t have walking rules to follow, and no need license to walk. I trust drivers more. However, this is not always true when the pavements are well maintained and pedestrians are less or used to share it with cyclists. Nevertheless, I don’t expect pedestrians to give way to me, and when I am a pedestrian, I don’t give way to those cyclists who keep ringing bell or expect me to give way. I will give way when I am ready, the cyclists slowed down.

15. Another reason that pavements are dangerous, and it also applies to cycling lane is that drivers usually are unaware of what’s happening on pavements and cycling lane and do not expect cyclists to ride on to the road suddenly.

16. An advice to pedestrians: if you want to give way, don’t do it suddenly and immediately. Take your time. Remain on your original route, direction and speed. Decide on the safer side you would like to move towards, and filter slowly.

17. Just as pedestrians are angry when a cyclist rode pass them at close distance even though the cyclist had made proper judgment and therefore didn’t hurt the pedestrians, cyclists are angry when a driver drove pass them at close distance even though the driver had done it safely and no one is hurt. Nevertheless, it is better to overtake at comfortably safe distances.

18. I think having driving experiences is an important advantage for riding safely on roads.

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