Friday, April 29, 2016

Does Singapore Have A Bicycle Culture?

Where The Bicycle Bell Rings


The highest building Taipei 101 is in the Xinyi Commercial District, has many luxury shopping malls and is one of the must-see destinations for visitors to Taiwan.  The area is cycle-friendly, thanks to a grid of purpose-built cycling tracks where one can hire a bike by swiping a public-transport and convenience store friendly card.

It costs about US$3/00 for a three-hour ride.  How convenient. What amazed me were the clean and shiny bicycles all neat in a row, ready for use.  During our trip last year to Taipeh we didn't try riding them since my wife doesn't ride a bike but with the ease of transportation, wide, clean pedestrian paths and friendly people it was just as convenient walking around.But it has a healthy bicycle culture.
New Zealand
A similar culture was already in existence way back in the 1970's when I was in Christchurch, New Zealand. Amidst colourful flowers on side-walks and orange-leafed trees I remember seeing this windy rush of bicycles with a dozen pretty Kiwi girls in shorts turning a corner in the busiest part of the city. No speed, no hassle, no one fell as each bike disappeared safely around the bend. It was fast but it was a beautiful sight indeed. And I noticed that no one wore a helmet!

Cyclists in New Zealand were usually very polite and street sensible, stopping at corners and giving way to pedestrians. I noticed that most bicycles had bells on them and the sweet ting, ting, ting sound that danger was behind. But this was in 1973 so I don't really know what's happening today.

According to an article about cycling, France was one of the first countries to ever take up past-time. In fact, the word bicycle was originated in France in the middle of the nineteenth century.  The creation of the Tour de France bicycle race in 1903 made cycling all the more important to the country.

Personally I have seen them all over the country; on cars,in trains, ferries.  They move over mountains, hills and dales. Again, the culture, developed through many years of practice makes perfect, have cyclists who hardly knock into pedestrians, other cyclists or vehicles. They stop to give way, and like the ones in New Zealand, will stop at zebra crossings, red lights and make way for little children who come in the way. This happened in the early 1990's but could be different now.

                                       Les Bicyclettes de Belsize - Engelbert Humperdinck

One of the most famous songs about bicycles is a favourite of mine called, Les Bicyclettes De Belsize. The song itself is from a film of the same name and the music and lyrics were written by Les Reed and Barry Manson. This favourite has been a hit for Engelbert Humperdinck since the 1960's and was top ten in the UK and top forty in the USA and other countries.

Where The Bicycle Bell Doesn't Ring:


I do not own a bicycle now but there are lots of stories about this mode of transport in Singapore recently. Bicycle lanes, bicycle parking spaces, bicycle thefts, bicycle locks and so on.  It's a great way to get around but the question is, do we really have a bicycle culture in our country?

There must be formal lessons in etiquette and civic consciousness in the classroom before the people in charge embark on such a project.  We cannot take for granted that cyclists, pedestrians and motorists will commit to rules they have to abide by. Otherwise it may just be too late. 
                       For illustration only. Is this safe for the child?

In my area there is a lady who carries a baby in a little wicker basket (image right for illus.) that is perched behind the bicycle. I have spoken to her politely about the dangers, that we cannot take for granted the road situation, but she has ignored my advice.

We have people in Singapore today from foreign lands. It is urgent that they realise they are not in their own country and situations here are different from those abroad. Similarly we must school our own citizens to abide by the rules too.

A culture takes some time to evolve but we need to start with proper enforcement.

I was nearly hit by a cyclist recently when he came past the bus stop I was at. He was inches away from me, coming from behind, without warning, without consideration and worst, without slowing down.

For a safer cycling experience.

What do you think? Please write in.
                                     Queen Bicycle Race

There is no intention to criticize the present system but we need to tighten the screws where regulations and enforcement are concerned.

Images: Google.



A bike culture does not yet exist in Singapore, unlike Taiwan or the Netherlands. Great uneasiness exist among cyclists, motorists and pedestrians over each other's road usage. Education in a big way (nation wide outreach) needs to be mounted for these three users, a prerequisite.

Following this, improvement in road infrastructure is a must particularly for cyclists using main roads to commute to work or for recreation (bike lanes, etc.) Implement these two measures and a bicycle culture will evolve.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you Oliver. Coming from an educationist and a regular biking hobbyist, he knows what he is talking about.

Enjoy the song but think seriously about the topic. We need bicycles but we need a bicycle culture.


Gosh! Luckily you're alright. Yesterday saw an old uncle riding his bike and knocked onto another uncle who was just going to get off the bus. Dangerous...


Cycling culture like in Europe? No.

Cyclists here are divided into 3 areas. For example (1) those with expensive racing bikes - sporting aspect; (2) high end bikes for those well-to-do with cars and cycle as a hobby to keep fit; (3) those who cycle due to cost of living expenses and to make ends meet, cycling is their mode of tansport their way of life, a necessity.

The 3 aspects of cycling here in SG in my view.

Thanks Andy.

May your day be as beautiful as you are.


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Straight forward without being duty bound, Doris and Merlin. Thank you both for the reaction to this post.

MS SEE C.S. said...

One of my favourites. (referring to the song by Engelbert.)


It's convenient if you don't drive, why not?

chakap chakap said...

Key in BICYCLES IN SINGAPORE. Lots of shops selling them but is there a website or community class that teaches bicycle culture?


Queen also has a song.

chakap chakap said...

Bicycle! Bicycle! Bicycle!
I want to ride my
Bicycle! Bicycle! Bicycle!
I want to ride my bicycle,
I want to ride my bike,
I want to ride my bicycle,
I want to ride it where I like

You say black,
I say white
You say bark,
I say bite
You say shark,
I say Hey Man!
Jaws was never my,
scene and I don't like star wars.
You say rolls,
I say Royce
You say God
Give me a choice
You say Lord
I say Christ
I don't believe in Peter Pan,
Frankenstein or Superman
All I wanna do is

Bicycle Bicycle Bicycle
I want to ride my Bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my Bicycle
Races are coming our way
So forget all your duties oh yeah!
Fat bottomed girls they'll be riding today
So look out for those beauties oh yeah!
On your marks get set go
Bicycle race bicycle race bicycle race
bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
Bicycle bicycle bicycle
Bicycle race

You say coke
I say Caine
You say John
I say Wayne
Hot dog
I say it cool it man
I don't wanna be the President of America
You say smile
I say cheese
Cartier I say please
Income tax
I say Jesus
I don't wanna be a candidate
For Vietnam or Watergate
Cos all I want to do is

Bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like

chakap chakap2 said...

"Bicycle Race" is a single by the British rock band Queen. It was released on their 1978 album Jazz and written by Queen's front man Freddie Mercury. It was released as a double A-side single together with the song "Fat Bottomed Girls". The song is notable for its video featuring a bicycle race with nude women at Wimbledon Stadium, which was edited or even banned in several countries.

YEN CHOW said...

Oh gosh. All these cyclists who didnt care abt other's safety ought to be punished

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Like all road users, cyclists must understand regulations, otherwise it'll be a free for all. Thanks all for feedback.


Hi Andy...agreed with your remarks...but please tell that to all the cyclists.

Anonymous said...

I feel that those who genuinely enjoyed cycling tends to be considerate on the road as they are not rushing to destination but enjoy the slow ride to destination. Other than that, others pose a danger to pedestrians and cyclists.
When i was young, my dad taught me to cycle with care, check traffic and pedestrians. Let both of them have the right of way. It is the considerate behaviour that people are lacking of and being self-centred. If residents wants SG to be gracious and beautiful country, we have to do self-reflection. :)


my only comment is, nice pic!


To make things worst most bicycles r motorise with a small engine n can speed up to 25km n they ride on d jogging track n padestain path n I HV to avoid them every am when I go walking in d park n light exercise with my wife. n even 2 wheel scooters are also motorised n dangerous n hope d authority will ban them using d walking track.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you all for the comments. Coming back to bicycle culture and whether we have one. I guess it will take time to evolve but it needs all Singaporeans to co-operate. The near shaves many of us experience when we either have to avoid a cyclist or motorized bike are realities we face, dangerous ones.

We hope those in charge will organise classroom lessons to inculcate a bicycle culture, the sooner the better. And we should all take it seriously.

(There are many songs with bicycles in the title. My other posting on bicycles should have some of them. Click on 'bicycles' label below each post to read.)

FACEBOOK said...

Thanks for LIKE posting
Toh Richard
Koo Victor
Audie Ng
Yen Chow
Randy Lee Keng
Yip Dick
Lina Koh
Ann Rowena Lim
Martin Ong
John Cher


Bicycle Culture:
My personal opinion, in the Singapore context it'll take a long time to happen. The current generation with their attitude. Susa ! Bicycles not as prestigious as cars (especially branded cars). Look at the number of cars on today's roads. The more the costs go up the more cars are on the road.

I don't think today's general public are interested in a bicycle culture. With our excellent public transport system, most of the time it's faster getting to our destination than private transport.

Looking for a place to park takes up a lot of time. Bicycles will work fine here but sadly, in the Singapore context, no prestige. My opinion.

Victor said...

I have a foldie in my car boot. I use it for the final mile to hard-to-park areas like Singapore Expo during an IT Show or just for some exercise when I feel like it. I try to observe traffic rules and show consideration to other road users. After all, lives are at stake, including my very own.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

I must thank the FACEBOOK group for their support. It's hard to get one so even a handful of readers (if they read) I'm grateful.

Thanks Mike for reply. Yes, rich Singaporeans or those who genuinely need the car will buy one, even if it's expensive.

And Victor. I must think about getting a folding bike too. Beats the traffic I know. But at my age, gotta be a bit more careful.

Thank you all for reaction. It is important.

chakap chakap said...

"Les Bicyclettes De Belsize"

Turning and turning
The world goes on
We can't change it, my friend
Let us go riding now through the days
Together to the end
To the end

Les bicyclettes de Belsize
Carry us side by side
And hand in hand we will ride
Over Belsize
Turn your magical eyes
Round and around
Looking at all we've found
Carry us through the skies
Les bicyclettes de Belsize

Spinning and spinning
The dreams I know
Rolling on through my head
Let us enjoy them before they go
Come the dawn, they all are dead
Yes, they're dead

Les bicyclettes de Belsize
Carry us side by side
And hand in hand we will ride
Over Belsize
Turn your magical eyes
Round and around
Lookin' at all we've found
Carry us through the skies
Les bicyclettes de Belsize

ABEL TAN said...

Beginning bicycle culture like several other cities.


Should make the bell compulsory on all bicycles.

Kimjoo Ng said...

Short of strict policing of the pedestrian paths and the inconsiderate speeding daredevil cyclists, there won't be one. Currently, they pose a safety hazard to toddlers, old folks and normal pedestrians.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...


Yes, hopefully, it succeeds. There must be bells. Part of the deal. Thanks, Abel.

Yes, thanks, Stephen. As long as it doesn't ring, we know we still have a long way to go.

Thank you Kimjoo. That's as accurate and honest as you can get. If you read the posting, I nearly got hit by one at a bus stop.

DH TAN said...

There's a huge sense of self-entitlement in Singapore that impedes bicycle culture. Everyone thinks they have the right of way. Another huge impediment is our humid weather. I'd love to cycle to work but not in our local weather.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

We're still a long way then DH. Weather will remain but let's hope for more civic consciousness to cool the rather hot bicycle environment we are now experiencing. Thanks for the comment.