I suffered a road accident back in 2015 which thankfully yielded zero damages besides a major hit to my road confidence. To rebuild my confidence, I explored the Western Adventure (WA) Park Connector Network (PCN). The WA PCN is a combination of various PCNs covering the Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Panjang neighbourhoods. I have since revisited the WA PCN once a year to bring my non-cycling family and friends for a fun ride. Most recently, I finally made good on my 1.5 year old promise and brought my colleagues there. Here is how the WA PCN is like.
- The overall route is well balanced. The 18km long route brings you through various terrain types. It ranges from nice easy flats (Choa Chu Kang area) to sudden steep and narrow climbs (Bukit Panjang area). This challenges riders across a range of experience levels. Many new riders will have to push their bikes uphill at certain points. But each individual segment is rather short and such challenges do not become a pain.
- Varied views are good. The PCN takes you through scenic areas in the north west. Besides the famed “Xiao Guilin”, there are long stretches through shady forest-like conditions and rides past waterways. The alternating views between urban and nature really shows off Singapore as a garden city .
- Amenities and rest points are readily available. Need a break? Caught in the rain? You are always within 100m of shelter and 400m of food/drinks stops. As the route meanders through neighbourhoods, those on the WA PCN can always find rest under void decks and food/drinks at coffee shops. There are benches along the way to take a rest as well. This makes the route especially friendly for non-cyclists.
- I guess the key downside is a comment that applies to most PCNs in Singapore. The bike lanes in some parts of the WA PCN are routed ridiculously. Some of them end up in bus stops, others force you to take sharp meandering routes so that you can avoid pedestrians. These routes are built around existing trees with little space. You can imagine how ridiculous they look and most cyclists would prefer to take the straight pedestrian route instead. PCNs were designed as an afterthought in most mature neighbourhoods, hence bike lanes had to make do with the little space left. This is a problem that is difficult to fix unless most of the existing walkways are reconstructed, which is not practical. Hopefully newer neighbourhoods would prioritise a logical bike lane network.
On a closing note, remember that PCNs are shared between cyclists, runners and basically anyone who wants to take a stroll. So ride with caution and at low speeds. Be always ready to brake in case a kid decides to run into your path. As much as cyclists ask for motorists to share the road, be ready to share the PCN graciously. The route can be extracted from my journey below. It begins and ends at Bukit Gombak MRT. With the many public sharing bikes around, it is never difficult to take a quick ride through the WA PCN. Give it a try!