The Park Connectors Network (PCN) in Singapore have been around for a few years, and I’ve heard pretty good stuff about them via the media – like how they connect the various parks in Singapore, and make it easy for people to ‘park hop’… joggers, rollerbladers, cyclists… etc.
During my younger days (like a decade ++ ago), I was quite the night cyclist. My usual route will be to East Coast Park (ECP) via Tanjong Rhu – Fort Road, then going all the way to Changi Point and back home. With like minded friends then, it used to be a regular Sat thingy with additional days during the week for other routes. Traffic wasn’t crazy like it is right now either… or then again, it might be cos I was too young & fearless to give a damn =) It’s a shame that the PCNs didn’t exist then, or you can be sure I’d have attempted to ride them all.
To cut a long story short, as I got older, those night cycling friends faded into the background. I got a motorcycle and lost interest in cycling and I eventually ditched my bicycle cos it was just taking up too much space in my apartment. It wasn’t a too expensive one (S$300+), and am pretty sure I’ve used it more than enough to make every dollar worth anyway. I stopped cycling for years.
It was not until sometime last year that I decided to pick it up again. Got into the spirit of Geocaching (though honestly am just using it as an excuse to get outdoors than being really interested in actual activity of finding caches), and it was one day where with a few friends, we decided to go around on bicycle instead of on foot – can obviously cover more ground that way. Instead of renting a bicycle @ S$35/day, we decided to purchase a cheap mountain bike that will meet our objective. I got mine for S$90, which is like 3 days of rental fees, and since then have used it 4x already?
Well, now that I have a bicycle again, I thought, what the heck… gotta find some excuse to check out the PCNs that I’ve been hearing so much about. Face it. Singapore isn’t exactly a cyclist-friendly country. Most drivers act as if cyclists do not belong on the road, and so do the pedestrians. The many fatal accidents that have headlined the news are examples of that. The PCNs do sound more appealing than battling the cars & buses on the road or trying to weave thru’ those slowpoke pedestrians on the sidewalk! The bus stop areas are the worst, I tell you. Major cluster f**king going on, with everyone somehow not seeming to notice a cyclist or two!
Found the perfect excuse in visiting old playgrounds from the good ol’ days (this will be another post separately), and off I went with a friend on Sunday! 😀
The plan was to bear with the traffic infested roads of the CBD area for a bit, take the Kallang PCN all the way to Bishan, traverse the regular roads down to Toa Payoh then returning via the Whampoa PCN till it joins the Kallang PCN. It’s gonna be majorly on PCNs, so it’s gonna be a breeze right?
The Kallang PCN is so NOT cyclist-friendly. Ugh. Yes, it comprises of paved roads along the waterways (aka. canals that are kinda polluted :X) with not too heavy human traffic… that part is lovely. On the way we by-passed a few pretty interesting spots too. One of them is The River Vista @ Kallang, a recent HDB BTO.
never knew HDB flats could look so nice! Kinda resembles a private condo, doesn’t it? It’s along the Kolam Ayer ABC Waterfront that has a floating deck, some weird exercise machines & alot of greenery.
Interesting views and nice paved roads aside, the folks who designed this particular PCN is probably not a cyclist. The frequency of stairs we encountered is ridiculous. Imagine cycling for a few minutes, only to stop & lift your bicycle up some stairs, cross the road via pedestrian traffic lights, then carrying the bicycle down the stairs… only to rinse & repeat a few minutes later? Kinda breaks whatever momentum a cyclist has, and I think it sucks -.-”
If those “little” stairs aren’t bad enough… we encountered 2 overhead bridges along the way. Yes. Over-f**king-head bridges – things that I avoid even when I’m a mere pedestrian. Mind you, these didn’t come with ramps so we had to haul the bicycle all the way up (and down the other side)! Sheesh. The worst being this monster across the Pan Island Expressway (PIE)…
Needless to say, the Kallang PCN was a total disappointment. Right, I agree that it might be just me being the problem, but I certainly do not enjoy struggling to lift the heavy bicycle (look, it’s at S$90-cheap mountain bike… not some expensive carbon-framed bicycle that weighs a feather) up and down that often! /sigh or maybe I just expected too much from the PCN, after hearing that it is a good place for peeps to cycle – well they are great for short distance cyclists I suppose… for those who are satisfied with rounding their apartment block >_<” but for those who wish to go further & utilize the PCNs, meh, I’d say just brave the traffic on the roads. It’s much more pleasant that way.
To be fair, the 2 overhead bridges that we encountered while returning on the Whampoa PCN had ramps where one can dismount and push the bicycle across… though tbh, I rather not be ‘interrupted’ halfway. Pushing… bah! If my friend wasn’t that adamant about going onto the regular roads (or pavements), I would certainly have done so.
I wonder if the other PCNs are any better. Might be checking out the Ulu Pandan & Jurong ones sometime soon. Fingers-crossed for minimal stairs!