These days, as cycling journalist, Carlton Reid points out, there seems to be a lot of press coverage of the "bike boom" caused by higher petrol prices. As if riding is something you do if you are too poor to afford a car and rising petrol prices.
Even the Straits Times recently ran a story about people turning to other modes of transport like buses and bicycles because of the fuel hike (er, the Straits Times article kept saying the dude rides a Strida folding bike, but the photos were of a Brompton leh).
Not that I am unhappy to see bicycles being mentioned in mainstream media, but like Carlton Reid says, surely this bicycling thing is not only about economics and petrol prices. I started cycling not because of car prices, or petrol prices, or even the environment. I did it because it was fun. I continue to do it, more than ever, because it is fun.
Saving money and the environment, and getting healthier — all just icing on the cake.
It got so fun for me that I went from riding to work daily, to riding to the MRT for longer distances, to riding all the bloody way to my destinations.
Was it to save those few dollars on the MRT? Nah. I just enjoyed the longer rides because the rides to work were no longer far enough. Tak shiok.
It got so fun that I sold the damn car which was getting to be a pain to maintain. It just made no sense, economic or otherwise, to have a car I just drove to work every day, only to be parked there for 8 to 12 hours a day (which I paid season parking for), and then driving it home.
I wouldn't say I am car-free, as I still sometimes drive a shared car on weekends. But I am certainly less dependent on it. I am car-light.
Sure it is convenient to have aircon, some music in the car, as I inch my way through gridlock. But it is certainly no fun. And it is not always the fastest way to get around either.
I am no environmentalist, or health nut, or bicycle athlete. Just a regular bloke who enjoys riding and decided to make it my primary means of transport.
And who is not bothered as much any more, when the pump prices go up, or when parking prices go up, or when another ERP gantry goes up.
And who is seeing, hearing and smelling my country like never before, all because I got out of the cage of my car, and onto my 2 wheels.
Because it was fun.
P.S. If you think riding is fun for me, wait till you try scooting to nearby shops and an MRT station less than 1.5km away on a Xootr kick scooter.
P.P.S. That is a Cruiser bike I was riding for The WTF! Show, tv editon. Lovely to look at, quite a beast to ride (coaster brakes, weighs a ton, a little difficult to control). But once you get used to it, it was fun (there's that word again) to ride. Just don't try it up Mount Faber, as I did on the show.
I am in a little bit of a pop mood this week, so here is some Atomic Kitten, Beyoncé and The Beatles. Check out also the really neat indie track from the Fleet Foxes. This is mrbrown.muxtape.com for the week!
王力宏 (Lee Hom) - 心中的日月
Atomic Kitten - Ladies night
5678's - Woo Hoo
Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal
The Beatles - Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
Dc Talk - Godsend
Estelle & George Michael - No Substitute Love + Faith (IMMUZIKATION)
Robin Thicke - Wanna Love U Girl (Feat. Pharrell)
Liz Phair - Extraordinary
Brown Eyed Soul - 바보
陶喆 (David Tao) - 月亮代表我的心
Beyoncé & Walter Williams, SR.(0f The O'Jays) - He Still Loves Me
Isaac has been playing with his Spider Man toy buggy and accompanying booklet for some time now. My dad bought it for him some weeks ago and it is his favouritest toy currently.
Personally, I think the car is too small for Spidey, and the booklet is something we tend to throw away. But he sees his toy and toy literature differently.
I don't know what is more precious to him: the toy or the little booklet that came with it, showing the entire line of toys inside.
Once, he left the booklet at his Grandma's house and panicked, making us walk back to get it. He insists on sleeping with both toy and booklet by his pillow.
He studies that booklet like my father studies the 4D Prediction Books. Once in a while, he shows me his favourite toys featured in there. Like Dr Octopus (pronounced Dr Octopoos, Filipino accented). He just admires the collection, never fussing us to buy any.
Another time, he studied and kept a Toys R Us brochure we got in the mail, crying when it was folded wrongly. Isaac kept pointing to his Toys R Us junk mail and saying, "Fold the Power Ranger! The Power Ranger!"
"What's wrong with you?" said my Dad, annoyed at his outburst.
I quickly folded it the way he wanted it and he stopped crying.
"He didn't know how to tell us he wanted his brochure folded with the Power Ranger toys facing up lah," I said.
Today, he came up to me and showed me a little tear in his worn Spider Man booklet. "Papa, my booklet is broken," he said, with a little sadness.
"Can fix for me, Papa?"
There were already other scotch tape repairs done previously. I just pulled some new tape out and fixed the new tear for him.
It made him happier right away.
It is a humbling thing to be asked by your son to repair his precious toy catalogue booklet. One day, his problems will be more complex than this, and will take more than scotch tape to fix. I hope I'll still be up to task then.
Sure we have cabs! Just that almost ALL of them are On Call!
Gahmen let the taxi companies hike their fares like crazy to "improve" the availability of cabs. But the wife and I waited for a cab for more than an hour at the neither-here-nor-there Great World City mall, and every cab was On Call. In this photo, there were four in a row.
Even cabs that wait in front of our taxi stands with their On Call signs on, allegedly waiting for their call customer who didn't show up, would rather drive away EMPTY than to pick up passengers at our stand. Maybe it was against their principles.
And the wonderful Great World City free shuttle seems to be taking people FROM Orchard to Great World only, because every time he drove up, he would wave his Off Service sign at those of us trying to get on board.
The taxi companies can go bust and I won't shed a tear. You all can go choke on your overly complicated surcharges and die.
Since I'm on a rant here, I'd like to highlight the new increased frequency of MRT trains. AT LUNCH TIME. Thanks guys! If we could take the train during lunch, I'm sure we would appreciate the trains whizzing into the stations at noon. We'll think fondly of this brilliant new initiative every time we try to get into your trains during rush hour in the morning and evening.
In the end, I took a chance and got on a public bus with the wife. Special thanks to the bus driver of the Number 16 who did not give me a hard time about my folding bike even though under the lovely new rules, foldies are only allowed on buses on weekends and public holidays. It fit nicely on the No Standing area in front of some blank tv screen.
It took us two hours to get home, including the time wasted waiting for a cab. We could have WALKED home in that time.
Yet another entertaining 4-minute Streetfilms video, on the 7th Annual Great NYC Commuter Race, where the bicycle, the car and public transport raced a 7.2km course which from Brooklyn’s Fort Greene to Manhattan’s Union Square.
The legendary Dr John Pucher (pronounced Pooker), Professor of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University, gave this hour-long lecture at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada (see the rest of the seminar video at the SFU site).
Entitled "Cycling for Everyone: Lessons for Vancouver from the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany", the seminar was held in SFU on May 15, 2008.
He talks about how important it is to make cycling accessible to everyone, not just for the hardcore cyclist, and addresses the issues impacting the cyclists, the pedestrians, and the motorists when designing a citywide cycling programme. He also debunks many of the myths surrounding the implementation of such programmes.
It's an hour long but very enlightening, insightful, and useful stuff.
Also a good read, his paper on "Why Canadians Cycle More than Americans: A Comparative Analysis of Bicycling Trends and Policies" (link to PDF).