What gets you around on two wheels but is eco-friendly and human-powered? A bicycle, of course!
We can’t go anywhere due to the COVID-19 outbreak anyway; only essential travel is allowed and many countries have imposed travel bans. According to news reports, leisure travel might only come back into play from the 2nd half of 2021.
So yes, it’s time to be a tourist in our own country! If you’re running out of things to do, cycling is perfect — you can explore other areas of Singapore and get closer to nature, all while getting in some much-needed sunshine and exercise (we all know how sedentary the work-from-home lifestyle is).
The best part? Cycling as a mode of transport is 100% eco-friendly as there’s none of those nasty exhaust fumes involved. All you need is your trusty bike and leg muscles that are ready to work.
If you don’t have your own bicycle, you can always rent one. Since the advent of bike sharing operators in Singapore from 2017, the current fleet of bikes available here is about 40,000. ‘Nuff said.
But that’s enough about why Gaia loves when you cycle, what’s in it for you? Here’s a handy guide to the NParks Park Connector Network, and our recommendations for the best and most scenic routes for your next adventure.
NParks park connector loops and routes
Thanks to the extensive National Parks Board (NParks) Park Connector Network (PCN) running through our island, it’s a cinch to get around. Fun fact: We currently have about 360 km of PCN, with more in the works.
It may seem like the concept of the PCN has been around since the beginning of time, but in actuality, it’s only 30 years in the making. According to NParks, the proposal for a network of greenways was conceptualised in 1990 and approved in 1991.
But it’s not just an islandwide network that links up and improves the connectivity of nature sites, housing estates and parks in Singapore. The PCN also provides accessible leisure options and optimises space for recreation by utilising drainage reserve land as a green link between parks.
Today we use the PCN to jog, walk and cycle (yup, there are bicycle-friendly bridges and overhead bridges with bicycle wheeling channels), taking in gorgeous views of water bodies, flora and fauna along the route.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been seeing more and more friends post about their PCN adventures on social media, especially since leisure travel is out of the question. This is unsurprising, especially since there are plenty of opportunities to get close to nature, take in fresh air, and slot in a healthy dose of exercise while snapping Insta-worthy pics.
If you need to get those wheels moving, here are some PCN loops and DIY trails to inspire your next trip:
Punggol Waterway Park
Punggol Waterway Park is one of the four parks on the North Eastern Riverine Loop of the PCN. With its well-maintained cycling paths and good placement of benches, it’s the perfect place for a newbie cyclist to get their feet wet (no, not literally) and fantastic for family fun.
Spanning 8.4 km, it makes for a nice, leisurely ride. This means more time for you to enjoy the themed areas: Nature Cove, Recreation Zone, Heritage Zone and Green Gallery. While you’re at it, spot some birds and make happy memories here. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the water playground is closed until further notice.
If you’re in for more riding, go ahead to tackle the entire North Eastern Riverine Loop.
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Southern Ridges Loop
I walked up Mount Faber last month, and boy, even with my mask off, I was panting at some parts. Meanwhile, many cyclists zoomed up the slope while I made my (slow) pre-dawn ascent.
If you have the leg muscles for this, a good bicycle that can handle inclines, or just love a challenge, why not cycle the Southern Ridges Loop? Watch the sunrise from atop Faber Peak, appreciate the undulating architecture that is Henderson Waves, walk atop lush vegetation at Forest Walk, then journey on to Hort Park for brunch and end at Kent Ridge Park.
You’ll need to dismount and push your bike at some spots, but this popular and iconic route is well worth it.
Residents of Telok Blangah have easy access to the Southern Ridges Loop, which makes those spontaneous pre-dawn trips totally doable.
Rower’s Bay is the start of great things to come for Singapore’s PCN. Launched in March 2019, it’s part of the first 60km phase of the upcoming Round Island Route, which, when progressively completed by 2035, will be a whopping 150km-long PCN route that goes around Singapore.
Located at Lower Seletar Reservoir close to the Yishun Dam, Rower’s Bay features a new boardwalk, a lookout pavilion, swales and a wetland. Put the brakes on your bike and keep your eyes peeled for native wildlife such as the grey heron and copper-cheeked frog. Or switch out your two-wheeler for a kayak rental from the nearby PA Water-Venture outlet.
From Rower’s Bay, explorers can cycle to The Oval at Seletar Aerospace Park, which offers a myriad of dining and lifestyle offerings.
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Dairy Farm Nature Park
If you’re game for mountain biking action, head for the trails at the 75ha Dairy Farm Nature Park. There are some normal cycling and walking paths too, and you can even check out a former quarry at the south-western end.
Unfortunately, main attraction Wallace Education Centre (it’s a former cow shed, and that’s how this park got its name) is closed for upgrading till December 2020, and hiking permits are temporarily suspended till further notice.
Make your way to the former quarry, which is now a wetland with a platform. From your vantage point, try your best to spot rare dragonfly species as they flit about.
Those whose legs can still pedal might want to consider traversing the entire Western Adventure Loop, which spans 23km. This route links up 8 parks, including Dairy Farm Nature Park, Choa Chu Kang Park, and Bukit Batok Town Park where you’ll find the iconic Wu Xia film worthy “Little Guilin” rock feature.
Around the Singapore River
This is a cycling route I’ve personally embarked on, seated on one of those shared bicycles. It’s a bit of a DIY cycling route, beginning from Stadium MRT and ending at Lavender MRT. Not too difficult for beginners, but do dismount and push if you’re not confident crossing roads and navigating a short stretch of narrow, urban paths.
From Stadium PCN, follow the river till you hit Tanjong Rhu Promenade PCN. I usually continue on from here till Marina Barrage, but if you’d rather feel the sea breeze, make a turn and get onto the East Coast Park PCN.
Once you clear the Marina Barrage bridge, it’s then straight through Gardens by the Bay, past the Singapore Flyer (might currently be closed), down Marina Promenade, along that bumpy yet scenic park behind Nicoll Highway MRT, and then you can end off at Lavender MRT (we ended here) or continue to Kallang Riverside Park.
The Coast-to-Coast Trail (or C2C) is a 36km route that stretches from Jurong Lake Gardens in the west, weaves through our very own Unesco World Heritage Site Singapore Botanic Gardens, meanders through Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park (you may spot the playful Bishan otter family) and ends at Coney Island Park in the north-east.
A couple of my friends have made this pilgrimage, some on foot and some on bicycle. I think it’s totally doable, with lots of rest stops along the way and with the blessing of good weather. It will probably take the better part of the day on two wheels, or up to 12 hours on foot.
NParks even launched an app with cute augmented reality creatures and virtual leaf guide. There are 10 checkpoints to clear, educational tidbits and even points to earn and quests to complete.
Here’s a quick run-through of the places covered on the trail:
- Jurong Lake Gardens
- Bukit Batok Nature Park (look for the quarry pool and WWII memorial site)
- Hindhede Drive (hello, Bukit Timah)
- Adam Road (grab a bite at the famous food centre)
- Singapore Botanic Gardens
- Marymount Road (Macritchie Reservoir Park is here)
- Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park
- Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West
- Luxus Hills Park
- Sengkang Floating Wetland
- Punggol Waterway Park
- Coney Island Park
- Lower Seletar Reservoir Park (Rower’s Bay)
Before embarking on these routes, do check before heading down. There may be closures due to Covid-19 measures, construction, etc.
This article was written by Mary Wu, who hopes to share what she’s learnt from her home-buying and renovation journey with PropertyGuru readers. When she’s not writing, she’s usually baking up a storm or checking out a new cafe in town.