Peter Walker at The Guardian writes about the process of creating more cycling routes in Seville (Spain) and the remarkable increase in cycling journeys as a result:
“As soon as the building work was finishing and the fences were removed the cyclists just came. The head of the building team, who’d been very sceptical about the process, called me and said, ‘Where have all those cyclists come from?’ That’s when I knew for sure it was going to work. The came from all over the city.”
The completed lanes are narrower than a Dutch cyclist might expect, and occupy what space they can, with riders very occasionally having to steer around a small tree or other obstacle. They also run along just one side of the road, making the lanes two-way. While this was the product of necessity, Calvo says he now likes this: “I think it makes people ride a bit more slowly and carefully.”
Most of the time when people think of a cycling country, the Netherlands comes to mind with it’s flat topography and cooler climate which play a part in making it comfortable to cycle from place to place. This model however is difficult to export to a tropical country near the equator. One of the largest obstacles facing cyclists in Singapore is the weather. Most people are concerned that it’s either too hot or wet to make cycling a viable transport alternative.
Unlike the Netherlands, Spain is a Mediterranean country with a climate that’s closer to that in Singapore, albeit much dryer. Especially in the south, where Seville is, the temperature can even hit 40 degrees Celsius! And yet the evidence seems to suggest that with good cycling infrastructure, considerations of the weather become secondary. People still prefer convenience and safety first when deciding how to get from point A to B.
I think there’s a lot we can learn here in Singapore from what’s being done over in Seville.