Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) chief executive Lim Eng Hwee has been cycling to work since he was chief planner for the authority some 10 years ago.
He is heartened by the uptrend in cycling and is hopeful that more people will take to the “iron horse” when cycling infrastructure becomes more developed.
At the URA, he has encouraged fellow colleagues to find biking buddies to cycle to work when they can.
The URA office in Maxwell Road is cyclist-friendly, with shower facilities and ample bike rests.
Mr Lim, 55, told The Straits Times that he has not cycled to work since the Covid-19 pandemic began as he has been working from home.
But, as recently as last year, he was cycling from home in the East Coast to work once a week. When he was chief planner, he did so at least twice a week.
He said his main motivators were health and sustainability. “It is a healthy lifestyle. I try to make time to go to the gym, but it is hard to keep to the routine.”
And, as an urban planner, Mr Lim is all too aware of the limitations of motorised transport in a small and densely populated city like Singapore.
“Cycling is one of the most affordable modes of transport. And on a bike, everybody is equal. And you don’t have to worry about the last mile,” he said.
He noted that studies have shown that most commutes here are 5km or less, and hence can be done on bicycles easily.
“If you cycle for less than 5km, you hardly sweat,” he said.
The URA chief reckons more people will be encouraged to cycle once Singapore’s ambitious cycling path network plans are completed.
The URA said the latest target is to have 1,320km of cycling paths and park connectors by 2030 – nearly treble the network length today.
“If we have safe infrastructure, we can give people a choice to cycle, maybe as leisure to begin with,” Mr Lim said.
He added that he uses park connectors and cycling paths 90 per cent of the time on the way to work.
As for on-road cycling lanes, Mr Lim said they posed a “high risk”.
“Most people are not comfortable cycling alongside cars. And the moment there is an incident, it will generate bad press, and change the course of our objective,” he said.
Space constraint is another issue, but Mr Lim noted that planners were able to accommodate one when they designed the new extended Tanah Merah Coast Road.