Since moving to the new workplace in early July, I am faced with the challenge of finding a permanent parking solution. There are limited season parking lots available so we have to take turns every 3 months. For the 3 months where I am not entitled to the season pass, I have to pay for the day pass (*eh-hem*, it’s partially reimburse-able though :P). Having “pampered” with free parking space for the last 16 years, I feel I have to explore other transport alternatives.
I decide to try out cycling and train boarding to work, after all it is the reason why I bought a Brompton foldable bicycle two months ago. It will be crazy for me to cycle all the way to workplace, especially during the peak hour. Cycle and train ride with my bike folded, would be a better alternative. This is especially given my workplace is just 5 minutes bike ride away from the nearest station. The constraint though is, according to the train commuting policy, that I can only bring my folding bike onto the train during off peak hours, i.e. between 9am to 4pm. So a daily ride and train commute looks impossible, at least not with my latest region role.
Today, I have an 8 am morning conference call. No way I will be in office in time for the call, so I decide to take the call from home. By the time the call ends at 9am, I realise perhaps I shall give the cycle & train ride a try. I put on a light cotton shirt and a pair of jeans, pop my laptop into my haversack, and off I go with my bike.
My first leg is to cycle to the nearest train station. I can cycle to Eunos station but it means I will take the East-West line, and will end up cycling from Queenstown station to my workplace via the congested Alexandra road. Does not sound like a good route, so next! Circle line looks like a “natural” choice, given that Labrador Park station is just 5 minutes bike ride away from my workplace, and the nearest station from home (Dakota or Paya Lebar) is just a few stops away from Labrador, at least from distance wise. But alas Circle line is not that “circular” as the line doesn’t connect between Dakota and Labrador in the city direction (i.e. towards Marina), unless I take the direction heading towards the North (i.e. towards Bishan). Now that will be a circular ride if I take this route! Eventually I stick with this route since it implies that there will be no trains hopping during the journey.
So I start the journey cycling off from home. It’s a different (and uncomfortable too) experience riding on the bicycle in working attire (albeit in jeans) while shoulder-carrying a haversack. Given that the morning traffic is still light at this hour (~9.09am), the bike journey enroute to Dakota station is relatively smooth. Despite a cool morning ride (ok, not that cool at 9am, but still a decent temperature), by the time I reach the station I am all sticky with sweats, no thanks to the humidity. Fortunately the train station is air conditioned, so I can take the opportunity to “cool down” while waiting for the train.
Once the bike is folded, I can manuever around with ease. With the Brompton folded and nicely seated on the rack, I can roll the bike like a push cart. I walk past the station control with my folding bike, and it is a non event as nobody from the control room bothers to stop me (and rightfully so since I am commuting during off peak hours). That said, I wonder if I will be stopped when I do so during peak hour. It is after all no different from pushing a trolley or baby stroller. I guess it boils down to being civic minded, as it will not be considerate squeezing in a packed train cabin with a folding bike, regardless of how compact it is.
The advantage of boarding at Dakota station is that the train usually arrives with empty cabins. Easy to find a seat that allows me to “park” the bike right beside me. The train cabin crowd builds up as it heads towards Bishan, as many Fusionpolis-bound office workers and NUS students start to pack in. Despite the crowd, I have not received any curious or nasty stares from other commuters. I can’t help being more wary given the recent spates of public transport squabbles.
The train finally arrives at Labordor station after 35 minutes of train journey and I feel as if I have toured round the island. With the bike unfolded, all it takes is a 5 minutes cycling journey to my workplace. The tricky part though, is the elevated route. It could be worst if I have to cycle to my previous workplace, which is 2km further away (and upstream) from my current workplace. Little wonder I still ended up perspiring by the time I reach the office. So that’s something I need to fix in the next cycling+train trip, such as putting on more deodorant on my body, heh!
With the bike folded, I could nicely tug it under my desk. Including the time I need to get settled down, the journey costs me 1 hour of commute time. Not exactly an optimal commute journey to shout about. However considering that I am helping to reduce the carbon footprint, I think its a great commute option, albeit only practical if I don’t have late meetings. Though I have to leave office by 3.55pm to catch the train before off peak hours end, I am going to try 4.30pm the next time though. So we will see how strict the train station staffs enforce the bicycle policy :)
All in all, it has been a great journey; I can go green, solve my car parking woe (for that day), save some petrol cost while keeping fit. All wins so I can’t go wrong with this, I guess.
Cycle for Food, Cycle to work :)