If you’re reading this blog post, you have probably entertained the idea about commuting to work or wherever you need to be by bicycle. Some people think that it’s crazy to do so in tropical climates such as in Southeast Asia or Singapore. We are here to tell you otherwise, commuting by bicycle makes perfect sense. Trust us! We run a bicycle shop when we are not busy writing blog posts.

Accordingly, here are 5 myths concerning commuting by bicycle. Mythbusting here we go!

Myth no. 1: You arrive at your destination sweaty and gross when cycling

While it is true that you sweat when commuting by bicycle in tropical countries in South East Asia such as Singapore, you do not have to arrive at your destination gross. All it takes is proper planning and taking the right steps to look and smell presentable at wherever you need to be.

For example, if you are commuting to work by bicycle, does your workplace have a shower that you can use? If so you would be able to take a shower at work before starting your work day. Instead of showering at home before you leave for work, consider instead going into work before taking a shower. You could leave a change of clothes at work (for days that you want to cycle in) and your problem is solved.

If you don’t have a shower at work - fret not. There are a multitude of shower wipes and dry shampoos that can be used in place. Trust us, you’ll still feel clean and fresh when you start work because the adrenaline from the blood pumping through your veins from cycling will do wonders for your mental state.

Myth no. 2: It’s dangerous to commute by bicycle

No it’s not! First of all, nobody said that you had to cycle on the road. Depending on where you need to travel, the Park Connector Network managed by Singapore’s National Parks provides a great option to get to where you need to be safely. There is also the option of taking the pavement if you aren’t comfortable cycling on the road just yet.

If you’re cycling on the road, sure there is an element of risk involved. That said, it is risky to drive on the road or ride a motorcycle on the road. Accidents do happen unfortunately. What’s important is that we take to proper steps to mitigate these risks. For example, we would not ever recommend someone to cycle on the road if he or she is not confident in doing so. Cycling on the road takes certain skills and isn’t something that one can safely achieve overnight.  On tips and tricks on how to cycle on the road safely, we recommend taking a look at our article on how to cycle on the road confidently in one month.

Myth no. 3: You need an expensive road bike to cycle to work or commute

This is absolutely untrue! As long as your bicycle is working and well maintained almost any bicycle can be used to commute. My bicycle of choice is my beloved decathlon Van Rysel RCR 900 AF road bike which I purchased for S$1,100 pre-loved. That said, I do use a single speed custom built Aleoca cruiser (which cost about S$250 to build) and a Flying Pigeon custom built commuter (which cost around $600) every other day just to mix things up. All of my bicycles help me get to work on time and each of them are a joy to ride in their own right.

That said, while I have to admit getting into work on my single speed bicycle is a lot more of a workout than on my road bike and if I am running a little late - the road bike will be the bike of choice.

Nonetheless, take the friendly advice from your neighbourhood bicycle shop: any bicycle will do as long as the tyres have air, the brakes are working and the drivetrain is clean. 

Myth no. 4: Commuting by bicycle is slower than by public transport or private vehicles

It takes me about 20 to 25 minutes on average, depending on traffic conditions, to get to work from home over a distance of 8.5km. Comparatively, it takes me anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour if I were to take public transport. This is because of the time spent waiting for the bus and train and walking from the train station to the office. It certainly doesn't help that the train and bus stops at every other damn stop. With the bicycle, you only have to stop at traffic lights and no time is wasted. You constantly get a feeling of joy when cycling because you’re always moving.

While travelling by a motor vehicle could be faster (15-20 minutes). The amount of time savings is negligible compared to the amount of joy you get from riding a bicycle. When was the last time you had fun driving a car stuck in traffic in Singapore? Furthermore, the bicycle is most definitely faster than the car in rush hour where jams are terrible, although we won’t recommend a non-experienced cyclist to overtake cars during busy periods.

Myth no. 5: Only people of a lower social class commute by bicycle

This myth is wrong on too many levels for us to expound in this blogpost. That said, commuting by bicycle is already embraced by people across all social classes and should be embraced by more people! It’s good not only for your health and mental well being, it’s also good for the environment.

Gone are the days where the only people who commute by bicycle in Singapore are those who “can’t afford cars”. We have lawyers, bankers and doctors who make a conscious lifestyle choice to get around by the power in their own two legs. If you give it a try, you may fall in love this with lifestyle as well.

April 07, 2022 — Douglas Koh

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