Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Copenhagen Delights -Nihola in Singapore

There are few places globally where the wonderful Danish bike designers Nihola have failed to reach and I am pleased to say that includes Singapore. For me Nihola are the VW Beetle of cargo bike design -you can't help falling for it at first sight.

And its not just something you fall for on day one, I say that having "test driven" mine for two years this year, with little or no complaint. Although it feels expensive before purchase -for how much I use my Nihola family -it's one of the best value items I have ever bought.

Two Danes living here, have brought this little bit of Danish style to Singapore. Their store Dansk.sg is incredibly well placed on River Valley Road and they offer a range of Danish products including stylish children's clothes by Copenhagen Delights  But their star product in my hugely biased view is the range of bikes by Nihola.

For the past few months I have been stopped out and about with friendly questions as to the what and where of my cargo bike and now I can helpfully point these prospective customers in the direction of Betina and Louise at Dansk.sg

Nihola's handmade bikes are incredibly safe, fun to ride, and best of all -a wonderful taste of Copenhagen in Asia.

Monday, 16 January 2017

IKEA Singapore

It's hard to find anywhere these days that doesn't have an IKEA. Inexpensive, easy to assemble and reliable, you can trust the Swedes. The whole store sells a vision of idyllic Scandinavia, from the array of  candles, soft furnishings and home lighting for the dark winter nights to outdoor furniture, crayfish and ciders for the long summer evenings. For the urbanist the store is adorned with all those practical fixes for urban living and even sells us an eco vision of self-delivery. So hej hej why not just take your new flat pack furniture home by bike?
The problem of course is everything is not just the ideal you have been seduced into believing it is. In Singapore using the Park Connector routes (huge positive) I could cycle a whole 7km to IKEA without using one single road. My cargo bike has a capacity of 100kg for flat pack (or a very large child) and I was good for at least a bookcase. Sorted then? Well not really, because the cycle parking was far from the ideal, hidden away in a corner of the carpark some distance from the exit, with a gauntlet of bollards in between to stop you actually getting back there with all the wonderful things you have bought, some so wonderful you will never even use them. And the lesson in the sorry tale?? Come on IKEA you can do better than that!!! If you tell me to do something inside your store make it possible for me to do it just outside!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

The Singapore Greenway (Green Corridor)

As a further tribute to @nigreenways I have found a greenway project in Singapore for him to add to his long list of projects for a global network of greenways.

It's perfect and ticks all the greenway boxes as a former railway line that bisects the Island East/West and runs from the disused railway station (below) at Tanjong Pagar North to the straits of Jahore where it would have linked to the Malay peninsula.
From the images I have seen so far it looks to pass some wonderful old train stations at the likes of Bukit Timah.

There are also branch lines which would further enhance the connectivity. And as I understand the lands are not in multiple private ownership, which is often the greatest problem with old railway lines, though the clever folk behind the Great Western Greenway in Ireland proved this problem can be solved with a little ingenuity.

A detailed proposal paper on the greenway exists and I have no real idea of the current state of the proposal or project. Therefore I have committed (if physically possible) to cycle the green corridor within the next week or so and take some photos. I have found these online.

There is a great webpage already on this Singapore greenway which no doubt given the high numbers of tourists passing through could become a very popular tourist experience. Like all former railway greenways they naturally connect population centres because of their former use and end up being used by locals, tourists, commuters and families. Businesses inevitably spring up on their routes to cater for the passing traffic and private or public bike hire schemes are an option.

Monday, 9 January 2017

East Coast Park at Marine Parade -The Wheels of the Belfast Cycling Revolution in Singapore Keep Turning

This is my first ( and second) short video upload to my blog. This shows the footway from the Marine Parade underpass to East Coast Park (Park Connector). You see the large footprints visually mark out the footway before you turn left onto the two way cycle way. You can already see during the approach cycle traffic and as we make the left turn you see the pedestrian footpath on the right closer to the sea.

In the second video (below) you see the character of the cycle route change a few kilometres further towards Changi. We have a single cycle lane to share two way traffic and a white line marking the pedestrian space on the path. It makes complete sense not to over engineer the less trafficked portions of the cycle way. And of course wonderful use of trees to provide a little shade on the path. Towards the end of this short video you see another cycle/pedestrian underpass that links the route to Bedok Reservoir Park. Really easy to follow the directions and not too long a cycle to get there.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Belfast Cycling Revolution in Singapore

Not for the first time I have been absent from my blog for a prolonged period of time. I realised that I couldn't compete with the likes of @nigreenways and a number of other amazing Norn Iron cycling bloggers and eventually I would have to find my own space.

I have done, and that space happens to be Singapore.

Although I left in July, our bikes only returned to us in October and my family has increased in size since then too, so I have been quite busy. Singapore has an established cycling culture in part because of its excellent Park Connector Network PCN which I will blog about over the coming weeks.

It's hard to join someone else's revolution over half way through so I will try and identify some of the things I think that work well here that we could incorporate into our thinking at home or indeed elsewhere!

The Park Connector Networks are a really good resource for cycling around and allow point to point and commuter journeys, not just leisure cycling. The quality of the cycle paths in  terms of width and surface is in most areas to a very high standard and there are constant upgrades and improvements being undertaken. You can see the continuous investment in the routes and a clear focus on improvements.

Left shows part of the East Coast Park Connector that runs through East Coast Park. There is clearly plenty of space for two way cycle traffic and a separate footpath out of shot for pedestrians.

This route allows you to cycle from the coast behind Changi Airport (as part of the Eastern Coastal Loop all the way to Gardens by the Bay and Bayfront MRT. It is busy all through the day and evening and although it attracts the odd lycra cyclist the vast majority are everyday cyclists with plenty of space for novices and children.

Visually some parts of the park connector routes are stunning. On the practical side of things, there are a number of bike rental facilities along the route and they are heavily used with a high number of tandems available. There is lots to see on route and easy access small beaches, kids play areas, coffee shops etc