Reflections On Learning To Cycle In 2021

Challenge contributor Daphne Goh from the Ministry of Education shares her reflection about her new experiences with cycling, which she started in early 2021.
Daphne Goh recounts the challenges she faced and overcame whilst learning how to cycle.

I did not learn to cycle until the beginning of 2021.

Since working from home in 2020, I started taking 45-minute walks around my neighbourhood in the mornings before work. I noticed that more people are sending their children to school on bicycles, or students themselves are cycling to school. Some people cycle to the malls and supermarkets to buy groceries, while others ride for health or recreation reasons.

With more people cycling, I thought I too could cycle to another town or commute around the city without taking public transport. This prompted me to take up cycling.

At first, I bought a 24-inch bike, but after a month, I replaced it with a foldie with 16-inch wheels. Other than having cute, smaller wheels, it was much easier to handle due to its lighter weight.

Learning To Ride

My learning journey was not smooth. Footpaths have to be shared with both cyclists and pedestrians. Other cyclists who don’t know that I am a novice and still learning would be impatient and ring their bells, while others tried to overtake me. I felt very nervous and afraid that I might fall.

Over six months of cycling, I came to understand that learning new skills is a never-ending process.

I have fallen off my bicycle while trying to brake on a downslope, make a turn in another direction or give way to a pedestrian on a narrow footpath. Although I had some pain and blood from the falls, I would pick myself up each time and do better the next time.

This is similar to picking up new skills at work. I might make some mistakes, but I do not give up and feel discouraged. Instead, I learn from the mistakes and try to do better the next time.

I have also come across several kind and helpful strangers who cared for my wellbeing when I fell off my bike. I was really touched by these people’s thoughtfulness.

Being a pedestrian is not easy either, especially when the increase in ridership means more cyclists are using the footpaths.

Still, I have never tried to cycle on the roads and prefer to cycle on the footpath, which feels much safer even though some footpaths can be quite narrow. In crowded areas, I will slow down so that I won’t injure any pedestrians around me.

  • Most scenic cycling route (so far): From Sengkang to Ang Mo Kio and back to Sengkang
  • Best time to cycle: During daytime, off-peak hours when not many pedestrians are on the footpaths and when the weather is cool and not sunny.
  • Obstacles to look out for: Cycling on narrow footpaths with other pedestrians or cyclists, and cycling down a slope (you need to know how to manage the brakes well)
  • Essential items for a ride: Bike anti-theft lock, wet and dry tissue (in case of any fall while cycling), water (for long rides), handphone

Hopes for the Future

Perhaps due to the crowds on trains and buses, more people are taking up cycling for commuting and for leisure. This is good for Singapore as we move towards being a low-carbon economy, but we have to do more to prevent accidents among pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

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Personally, I hope to see more cycling paths built in Singapore. The cycling paths should be wide enough for cyclists going in opposite directions. It might even be good to have a few allocated paths for new cyclists to learn and practice. Bike parking lots should have an automatic, anti-theft locks with QR codes so cyclists can scan the code to unlock and park their bike without the need to bring their own lock.

I also hope that all of us, whether as pedestrians, cyclists or motorists, can be responsible users of the footpaths or roads – for the sake of our safety as well as the safety of those around us.

The sale of e-bikes have skyrocketed due to demand for takeaway and food delivery riders.

Facts & Figures

Singapore's e-bike numbers have doubled
amid demand from food delivery riders

Registered electric bicycles (e-bikes or power-assisted bicycles)

  • May 2020: 31,660
  • May 2021: 15,800

More people also turned to e-bikes after e-scooters and other personal mobility devices were banned on footpaths in November 2019.

From June 30, 2021, all e-bike and e-scooter riders must

  • Take compulsory online theory tests
  • Be at least 16 years of age

Find out more about how to cycle or ride other personal mobility devices safely.

Source: Land Transport Authority

  • POSTED ON
    Jul 16, 2021
  • TEXT BY
    Daphne Goh
  • ILLUSTRATION BY
    Xinyi Liew
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