Comment: We need more than cycle lanes to prepare for cycling in Singapore

However, it remains to be seen whether these new regulations will create a better world for cyclists and other road users. Even if we improve cycling infrastructure and the relationship between cyclists and road users, the bicycle could still play the role of second fiddle to other transport alternatives.

There are “inherited ideas” to be overcome, including deeply rooted cultural ideas that link car ownership with status and success, and that bicycles are tools of leisure.

A SECOND TIME TO BUILD A CAR-LITE CITY?

Nonetheless, cities are a collective of people and our individual choices collectively shape the city. If we want bicycles to play a bigger role in our city, then we must be deliberate in changing our attitudes towards cars, bicycles and public transport.

Cars dominate in America because choices have been made to allow such dominance. Bicycles dominate the streets in the Netherlands because different choices have been made.

Choices can be redone; attitudes can be changed.

The vision of creating a car-lite and cycle-friendly Singapore has long been a battle against inertia and a challenge to the symbolic value of cars.

But, as we have seen over the past two years, attitudes and habits can be changed, streets can be reoriented, and they can be changed drastically and for the better.

Singapore’s current cycling boom may have a more lasting impact than it did in the 1960s and 1970s. But only if people – planners and politicians included – demand this change.

Samuel Chng is an applied social psychologist and directs the Urban Psychology Lab at the Lee Kuan Yew Center for Innovative Cities at the University of Technology and Design of Singapore.

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