Friday, July 27, 2012

Why do I cycle to work?

Why do I cycle to work? 

To save money and time.

How did I started? 

I had been cycling from Clementi to NUS for a few weeks in 1995. One day, I needed to go to Tanjong Pagar. However, I couldn't find a place near the MRT station that I felt was good and safe (from theft) to park the bike. Also out of curiousity, I decided to ride straight down to Tanjong Pagar. That trip took me 45 minutes, which I find is not too bad since I wasn't familiar of the route, and on a 24" MTB bike.

I don't compare this 45 minutes bicycle riding with 17 minutes by MRT from Clementi to Tanjong Pagar. I would consider the whole trip from when I step out of my door until I step into the destination. For bicycle, there would typically be an additional 5 minutes overhead. For public transport, this overhead includes waiting time and more walking times, which could typically be as long as 10 to 25 minutes.

I was surprised that riding bicycle isn't that slow. In fact, the trip took about only 35 minutes on a 26" hybrid bike and after being more familiar with the route. This second bike for commuting stays with me until now, although, except the seat post and frame, all other parts have been replaced.
For me, cycling to work was not my intention but the natural outcome after I started bicycle commuting. 

Where have I been cycling to work?

I have mainly stayed in Toa Payoh all these years but there are quite a number of commute routes over these years. I have put some of them up at as user back2nature. The regular work/study destinations are between Toa Payoh and
(1995 - 1998) NUS, Tanjong Pagar, Peace Center, River Valley High @ West Coast, St. Nicholas Girls @ AMK,
(1998 - 2002) Nanyang Poly, ITE@Macpherson, Temasek Poly, Temasek JC, Johor Bahru,
(2002 - now) NTU, TTSH, NUH. I must say I am lucky to stay in Toa Payoh.

In all of the above routes cycling to work is faster than public transport, with only one exception: after the running of Circle Line, now my place to work via bus 235 Circle Line from Caldecott to Kent Ridge, and few minutes walk to my work place near NUH is faster than cycling, though replacing 235 with a ride&park is slightly faster. Still, I would cycle to work once or twice a week. For my current work place, this is one of my preferred route:

For some of the longer routes such as to JB and NTU, I have also used the mixed-mode commute, by having two bicycles stationed at an MRT stations at each end. I think this is the fastest mode, but may need to keep buying bicycle every few months.

I am also testing out bringing folding bike on train recently. It works but find it less convenient than riding my old hybrid bike, especially when I want to do some simple shopping or ATM withdrawals at crowded areas.

It fit just nice under my desk:
For the 26" hybrid, I usually just park it wherever convenient, mostly outdoors, but car parks at my work place do have bicycle parking space:

What other benefits do I get for cycling to work? 

I get to exercise not by intention. I am not into sports and fitness but need to take the yearly IPPT during my NSmen years. Initially, I needed to specially train my 2.4km running before the test. After some years of bicycle commuting, I managed to maintain my IPPT test results (adjusted for aging) without special training before the tests from my 4th or 5th IPPT test onwards.

I can explore many places in Singapore. Similar to driving a car, one can go to more places than taking public transport. Yet, with bicycle, it is more convenient than car as I can ride slowly instead or walking, return trip to the car park is unnecessary, no parking timings constraint, etc.

Does my workplace have bike friendly facilities? 

Virtually no one talk about such things in the 90s when I started. However, for most trips of 45 mins or less, and by riding leisurely, perspiration easily stopped after few minutes in an air-conditioned place, which is abundance in Singapore. Just as walking, one can stroll, or walk, or brisk walk, or even at route march or forced march pace, cycling slowly one doesn't perspire much.

Cycling attire for the commute 

For short trips (< 45 mins), I rides in whatever attire I need to be. Luckily, I almost do not need to be in leather shoes, long sleeves shirts, and such. However, I do find long sleeves shirts not that bad as I would unbutton a few buttons for ventilation and it help to block me from the sun, which is a major cause for perspiration during the day time.

Since now it is easy for me to change and hang clothing under my desk, I would wear T-shirts and shorts.


Francis said...

Great article. gives a clear picture of what is it like to cycle to work.

Back2Nature said...

Thanks Francis for linking it at your page that contains other bike to work articles.

Unknown said...

Hi Back to nature, I am producing an online video that pits a cyclist against a public transport commuter during morning peak hour. wondering if you would be keen to participate? If so, kindly drop me a mail at Thanks.

Back2Nature said...

Hi Chi Chong,

Thanks for the invitation. While I think about it, maybe you can also ask some riders in this list:

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