June 2, 2017
Singapore is clean, orderly, and easily navigated, long, straight highways stretching from urban sprawl to easily reached nature reserves; one might easily see all of Singapore perched on a bike seat. And, in an effort to reduce congestion and encourage fitness, Singapore has been adding dedicated cycling lanes throughout the city, routes that range from kid-friendly jaunts to extreme riding in the quarries of Burkit Timah.
Probably the most recognizable landmark in Singapore, the three prongs of the Marina Bay Sands are a symbol of success and prosperity throughout Asia and indeed the world. Topped with the world’s largest public cantilevered platform, the structure stands at a vertigo-inducing 194 meters high and one of the best vantages from which to take in the setting of the Singapore sun. A great ride for cyclists of all ages, this gentle route begins at the foot of the Marina Bay Sands and moves onto the perfectly manicured cycle path past the Singapore Flyer, across the Kallang River, and toward the Merlion statue – the mythical marine creature adopted as the embodiment of the Singapore spirit. From there, providing you have timed it correctly, it’s up to the roof of the Esplanade for an elevated view of the famous Marina Bay Sands Light Show at 8pm. Singapore is a city of light, and, unlike most urban bike rides, some of the best cycling can be found at night
Located in the north of Bedok New Town, Bedok Reservoir Park is home to anglers, fitness enthusiasts, and water sport fans. On balance, compared with the steep hills of Pulau Ubin or the manic pace set by the skateboarders and rollerbladers of East Coast Park, Bedok is the best public space to embark on a family bike ride. With no prescribed route to follow, Bedok’s well-maintained roads are ideal for kids to have fun and blow off steam in a safe environment. In addition to cycling, Bedok also provides dragon boats and kayaks for larking about the reservoir, and there is even the Aerial Tree Obstacle Course for those wanting a little more danger in their day.
Pasir Ris Park is another charming, peaceful green space designed with the family group in mind, lined with flat, obstacle-free trails for safe, fun rides for beginners and youngsters. Best of all, with bikes for hire on-site, you can either bring your own two-wheeled steed or pick one up when you arrive: no fuss, no hassle. In addition to cycling, Pasir Ris Park features the Mangrove Boardwalk, a three-storey bird watching tower, and one of the largest playgrounds in Singapore. For the family day out there are 65 barbecue pits and a decent choice of campsites.
TAKING IT SLOW
The Northern Eastern Riverine Loop links four parks: Sengkang Riverside, Punggol, Punggol Waterway and Punggol Point, and is a terrific way to whiling away the hours on a gentle cruise, taking in the sights of the natural world and beautiful local birds, including herons, kingfishers, and terns. Starting at Punggol Park, the nearby reservoir and coastline keep you cool as you make your way around the 16-mile course; that’s quite a ride for some, but this course is a slow-paced, leisurely ride. The best thing about the course is the food, with some great bars and restaurants along the way where you can replenish depleted energy reserves with fresh seafood.
THE EXPERIENCED AND THE EXTREME
Singapore fans should know that was coming: Bukit Timah. For the experienced mountain biker looking to bash some serious terrain, one of the most challenging and well-known courses is the Bukit Timah mountain bike trail, or BT among those in the know. One of the very first dedicated mountain bike courses, the famous five-mile trail, packed with steep climbs, twisting bends, dense undergrowth, and mud (so much mud) is the best introduction to mountain biking in the tropics. Another more advanced choice for the seasoned cyclist is Chestnut Nature Reserve: 64 hectares of the the largest nature park in Singapore. Located next to Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Chestnut has 11 different courses dedicated to mountain biking, with increasing levels of difficulty. The routes for hikers and bikers are different, so it’s one of the safest you’ll find in Southeast Asia. In addition to the rough and rugged pleasures of trail biking, this massive space also boasts a highly specialized Pump Track. These off-road circuits are designed for mountain bikers to practice their technique by speeding over artificial humps, bumps, and banks.
If the ideas above don’t suit your tastes, a little research will reveal a huge range of other eclectic cycling rides, such as those found at Fort Canning Park, home to Singapore’s ancient kings, where you can punctuate your perambulations with stops at cemeteries and the Southeast Asian Art Gallery.