Friday, 7 April 2017

Different 3 Wheels for a Day #CyclingWithoutAge #VikingBiking #BikeSingapore #SingaporeOn3Wheels

Last week I followed up a (2 wheel I must confess) cycle to Tampines with another big cycle -this time with my volunteering debut on a Cycling Without Age Trishaw. When in the history of mankind has doing something for some else been so much fun?

I was booked to take Auntie Annie out for an hour on a Monday morning in her locality near Zion Road/Havelock Road. I picked up a CWA Trishaw on Sunday and brought it back off road through East Coast Park to Marine Parade for Monday's early start. It feels heavier and handles very differently than my Nihola but it is great fun to ride and of course has capacity to carry two adults -even rather large ones!

On our way to River Valley (school holidays had begun to my ignorance or surprise!) so as of Sunday evening the plan had changed Charlie got to tag along too -naturally on his scooter until he ran out of steam.

East Coast Park on the way back into town was very easy and smooth but the CBD on a non-Car Free Sunday can be a real challenge. Despite losing time in the traffic we eventually hit the riverside route and took the "quiet route" option to pick up Auntie Annie. It was a real pleasure to spend time with her. She has lived in her current place for around fifty years (pointing out with a smile that she only had forty something years left on her lease!) and the immediate area all her life -she even showed us where she was born -an area that now houses riverside shops. Charlie re-energised scooted alongside most of the way but when he got tired Auntie Annie was more than happy to have him beside her. True to form though at the end of the ride Charlie facially protested at having his photograph taken! While his sweated through pilot was too tired to say no!

Our route home took us along the river route until the Fullerton when we turned off under the Helix Bridge past the Singapore Flyer and into the absolute joy to cycle that is Kallang Riverside Park with its welcome breeze. We followed on round to Stadium link and back round eventually to East Coast Park and the long cycle home.

So from where we started the journey home, I was able to leave the road at Kim Seng Bridge and not need to go on road again for another two hours when we reached Marine Parade.

On route we crossed this older pedestrian/cycle bridges at Kallang Riverside Park which was worth stopping to take a photo off. And of course there are quite significant new plans for that whole area.

Cycling Without Age is a wonderful concept but they do rely on individual and corporate donations to acquire and maintain the bikes. So if you don't have the time to offer pedal power you can still offer support.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Cycling Without Age #Singapore

There are lots of good cycling related charities and social enterprises on the market for anyone wanting to use their spare time productively and volunteer -but few capture the imagination in the way that Cycling Without Age does. First established in 2012 by Ole Kassow in -you've guessed it Copenhagen -Cycling Without Age set about tackling limited mobility for those who would still like to feel the experience of being out on a bike.

Using the wonderful line of "The Right to Wind in Your Hair" CWA has now established itself in a number of different countries including Cycling Without Age Singapore and you can follow updates on an exclusive Singapore facebook page.

I bumped into the inspiring Marieke Bink at car free Sunday recently where our local Cycling Without Age and their volunteers had quite a presence. I think this group is not just excellent for individual volunteers but also for corporate bodies wishing to discharge some corporate social responsibility. CWA provides mainly older people with a wonderful experience and through the volunteer "pilots" it also bridges generation gaps and creates space for handheld free communication!

Monday, 27 February 2017

Car Free Sunday Singapore Style

I have been part of car free days in Belfast (currently only an annual event) and Paris  where things are much more frequent -and Singapore was different again.

All share the same unusual sensory experience of significantly reduced noise in an urban environment and a completely different perspective on the size of space occupied by roads. It really does feel so different. One of the real pluses with the Singapore event was a number of rickshaw type trikes on show like the one in the photo above.

Much better though than the reduction in noise and air pollution is that there is lots of fun for kids -for years they have been warned of the dangers of roads and yet for a few hours on a Sunday morning they can pedal right down the middle of some of the biggest ones around.

There was definitely a lot more lyrca on show Singapore than the other car free events I have attended but in part that is climatic as much as anything else. So much so they were selling it!

Lots of stalls were present along various parts of the route.

This event was very well organised and had first aiders at various points on the cycle routes although thankfully I didn't see anyone needing their services.

But of course stills only ever give a brief flavour of what it is like to participate in something like car free day. You really need video to properly capture the atmosphere and I have added a few below.

And of course at the end of all that energy sapping cycling some people tire a little more quickly than others. So child and child's bike both go into the cargo bike for a cycle home past Gardens by the Bay and through East Coast Park back to Marine Parade and not a single road necessary.

Pigeon in the Park

This is an incredibly short post to mark my first sighting of a pristine condition Flying Pigeon in East Coast Park this afternoon -high end finish to match that of any "gentlemen's bike" on the market.

Obviously most will be aware of the history and influence of the Pigeon but if not you will satisfy yourself with all the knowledge you may crave  by visiting Flying Pigeon EU

Friday, 10 February 2017

Bike or Stroller???? What is Taga????

Just as I was standing back admiring the fact I thought I kept up to date with all things cargo bike I was blindsided by Taga today. Not something I had previously been aware off but current unavailable for online purchase because of its popularity -the good people at Taga have told us!
At first I mentally dismissed the Taga as a stroller you can cycle until I read more on the specifications. Yes to gearing, yes to a variety of adaptations for two kids, rain covers, cargo capacity and so on. It is definitely also a bike.

My only lingering reservation is that I could never see myself in traffic on this as I could with any of the other conventional cargo bikes I have previously blogged on. Yes I could park cycle it and yes on a protected cycle network I would be willing to give the Taga a go. But if you ask me to do the school run by road with this I would refuse in the same way I wouldn't take on traffic with a kids trailer behind.
It may well be that these products are as safe (or even safer) as a reverse trike cargo bike or Dutch cargo bike when it comes to traffic but like so many things in life how you feel about something is a factor no matter what the science -and don't think I would ever buy a bike I wouldn't feel comfortably cycling on a road.

I am really interested in anyone who owns or has cycled a Taga to know what they think -especially of course if they are in Singapore! Maybe they would even let me have a go.

By the way there is even a Taga 2.0 on the way!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

A Pretender to the Crown?

Something I thought impossible has just happened. Nihola has a rival for my affections. Just when I thought life couldn't get much better than the school pick up on my favourite cargo bike and a bit of a snooze on route to the park -it did.

After the snooze (a sneaky coffee for dad, yes I know Starbucks) we cycled down to the cycle parking by the main kids play area.

Here we parked up beside a "Dura" bike, which as I understand is maybe a locally produced Singaporean cargo/utility bike, with cargo capacity at the rear and a phenomenally long chain (no electric assist on this one). You see quite a lot of this style of bike in Singapore and often in the parks being used as work transport for park maintenance staff.

I am saying maybe at this stage because I don't know if it is the frame or bike itself that is produced by "Dura" and I have yet to visit a store that sells the product.

You see from this side that the frame certainly doesn't look adapted and I am pretty sure it is factory produced given the fairly large number you see around appear to be standardised.

Anyway it wasn't "Dura" that I think is a real market rival for Nihola when it comes to family and kids transport.

When I first saw @StripyMoggie and @stevenpatt99 on their classic Dutch style cargo bikes in Belfast, although I was very impressed I didn't regret my Nihola purchase.

When @ellenfromnowon introduced an Urban Arrow to South Belfast, the Bosch electric assist was streets ahead of my Sunstar which comes with Nihola, but I was still happy on my stylish reverse trike.

It seems that when it comes to cargo trikes it might take a Dane to beat a Dane and the Butchers and Bicycles MK1 looks like a Nihola inspired success in the making. It seems to be slightly more pitched as off road and maybe subtly -more for Dads.

Now we are a two kid family I had been considering upgrading my bike from the Nihola Family to the Nihola 4.0 on the basis that it's always good to have room for future growth even if never required.

However, I think I would now maybe like to have a test cycle on the MK1 before making my next purchase decision.

My only criticism at this stage is this -if  it's called the MK1, even if I really like it, I might just wait to see the inevitable MK2 before entering the market!

A final word of thanks to @anderspreben for tweeting a picture of the MK1 and bringing it to my attention.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Green Corridor -Base Camp

A couple of weeks ago I undertook to explore and document the "green corridor" on behalf of cycling and greenways enthusiasts across the globe. I feel a little bit like someone who promised to go off and climb Everest, only to return triumphantly to announce I had found the base camp.

I ditched one wheel (my cargo bike) and cycled off through East Coast Park to find Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. The ride through East Coast Park is excellent and completely traffic free. When you get to the end of Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands you have to compete to an extent with traffic by I have found a pragmatic  route which could easily be used for a link park connector to bridge East Coast Park with the Green Corridor. If you are taking this route don't forget to pass the Palmer Road Mosque (above left) which sits on a small hill nestled beside the ECP elevated motorway.

The station is the southernmost tip of the old railway line and was not accessible to the public on the day I was there, but the old building looks fantastic. The railway line initially ran within Singapore but around 1920 bridged across into Malaysia. It was used to transit Malaysia tin and rubber for processing and onward shipping.

It was envisaged that this terminus would eventually provide a direct connection with Calais -what an amazing greenway that would have made! 

Maybe for this reason the station is much more of a statement that those that follow on the trail the old railway line North. Lots more historical information on the station is available on a number of websites but I found this one on the Rail Corridor particularly useful as well as this blog by Kylene Wu which has great photos of the interior.

The clock on the side of the station had a very British feel to it and similar to those you still find at a number of older London rail stations.

In fact the smaller stations on the line also have a very British feel. They could easily be Carrickfergus or Whitehead.

At the rear of the station there are long covered platforms which are well preserved and would form a wonderful greenway entrance and plenty of commerical and business opportunities to meet the needs of the new flow of people.

 Further back you start to get a feel for the width and space available for the Green Corridor and linear park and how it might look when in use. Clearly as you move further down the rail track the available land narrows. But if you look at the success of the Great Western Greenway you will see a tourist attraction able to support hotels and restaurants -something the old station could easily be used for. The photo above looks back towards the station platforms.

 And like all the best former railway lines that become greenways this one has wonderful relics of the old railway line preserved on route (like the signal point on the left) and ready for prospect businesses to renovate and move into.

Singapore has many fabulous cycle routes, much green space and some fantastic tourist attractions -but this prospective linear park along the old railway route, linked to the Park Connectors -could well be the finest of them all.

Now that I have managed base camp, I will look to find access a little further up the old line and provide a further blog update on the section of the route that runs towards Buona Vista and on to Bukit Timah.