Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chan Chun Seng on Vision 2030

What is Vision 2030? It's like Wawasan 2020, except it will work.

Yes, that's Chan Chung Seng giving a thumbs-up

Vision 2030 is a new thing that...err... Chan Chun Seng has up his sleeves that intends to popularise sports in Singapore. The goal of this is to ensure that the whole of Singapore will one day embrace sports as a lifestyle and help tackle some of the challenges, as reported by the Straits Times.

I do not know about all these grand goals but I do know about cycling, and I believe that one of the best areas in which Mr. Chan can look into is cycling. He can ride on a wave of upward growth in what is one of the easiest sports to adopt.

Cycling is probably the easiest to adopt because,

  1. You can do it alone
  2. It is as expensive as you want it to be
  3. It has many different areas to explore
  4. It is utilitarian
Already, one of the biggest surges in cycling has occurred in the new millennium, ever since the introduction of efforts such as the OCBC Cycle and the development of more thorough park connectors. Recreational cyclists have seen growth numbers that have never been seen in the 90s. And you know road cyclists are also growing in numbers because... the Straits Times is publishing a lot more Drivers-vs-Cyclist articles.

And then there's the benefits of cycling. A cycle commuter makes very efficient use of his time, and avoids other ills such as wasting time at the bus stop, cramming into an overloaded train, having to suck up price increases with no recourse other than to complain and whine, and also other less obvious benefits such as lowering the risk of heart disease, burning fat, and a general feeling of greater healthiness, all while doing the 40-minute commute to work, and back.

On the other hand, a serious cyclist - the weekend MAMIL or MTBer also makes great use of his time. Inherently energy demanding and heart-pumping, weekend rides on Coastal is a great way to make friends and bond with other cyclists, all while burning hours' worth of calories. I know for a fact that my recreational rides are generally less fat-burning than people in the Coastal or Lim Chu Kang peloton doing 40km/h.

Vision 2030 can ride on this increasing wave of cycling to achieve quite a lot of its goals. The fact that cycling saw a popular growth with little governmental agency showed that with a little nudge, it will see an unmistakable boom. So more pertinently, I won't beat around the bush without answering the question. According to Mr. Chan, here are some points of discussion:

Generation Z: How can sports engage and develop youth?

Named Gen Z probably because they Zzzz a lot and play video games thereafter, the video games generation is probably one of the biggest problems which anyone seeking to push sports as a lifestyle option will face.

The issue with Gen Z, and some Gen Y, is that parents today are generally more protective of their children, and often a times, it seems that the safer but unhealthier alternative is often considered to be more ideal. Yes, you can get pretty beat up if you cycle with little experience. Yesssss, you can get killed. However, these are rare occurrences and these are not challenges that are insuperable nor are they risks that are impossible to mitigate.

To totally disallow a child to play sports is akin to totally destroy the best part of life. Video games are fun but they are... just not as thrilling as the possibilities that sports offer. Anecdotally, I find that people who do sports are more interesting, have more friends and have less issues with their emotions. I also know for a fact that if not for cycling, my life would be so restrained and boring.

Spirit of Singapore: How can sports bond the community and inspire the nation?
This I know: stop getting people to win medals for Singapore. We want medals won by Singapore.

However, on a more down-to-earth level, it seems that in cycling, there's an automatic fraternity within cyclists. If you go on the trails and have a problem, you'll find that sooner or later, people will warm up and help you. If you fall on Mount Faber like I did, you'll find that people will try to help you.

By having an interest in cycling, and I suspect it is the same as with any other sports, you'll find that you'll engage with more like-minded people, get to make more friends and enjoy the sport together. If you want an example, just take a look at the LoveCycling group. How many people join their rides on weekend? Tons, and they have lots of pictures to prove it.

So, without an interest in a sport, how would you get to know so many people? eHarmony? Doubt so.

Future ready: How can sports inculcate values and groom future leaders?
Wah lau, so lofty. Sorry, no idea.

Futurescape: What can be done to create more public spaces for sports?
With regards to cycling, this is a bit difficult, because the LTA is hard on bike lanes, and although I suspect that if the LTA/SLA/NParks actually made some bike lanes or some sort of bicycle superhighway, it would be the necessary 'nudge' from the government for put cyclists on their bike.

The park connectors are a great initiative, though unfortunately, they don't go to places where people would bother. They make great superhighways from Marine Parade to Changi Village for you to makan, but they don't get you to work. But then again, in NParks' defense, they weren't designed to.

Organising for success: How can the public, private, and people sectors work together to make Vision 2030 a reality?

I know. Stop having people act like I'm some crazy guy all because I bike commute.

I suspect that cycling will be a ground-level initiative, because I don't really think the government can do much or would really bother. It will be something that spreads virally just like how people got to know the Fun Pack song. One day, your colleague will come in work by bike, everyone will joke and laugh. The next week another weirdo colleague tries it and really enjoys it (confirm). After a while, people stop looking at these two cyclist like jokes.

Then, SBS and SMRT decides that they're gonna raise prices. Secondary school students and JC leavers lose their concessions and decide to get on a bike because of prices. It gets popular in the office, among students and the word spreads.

That's how I believe cycling will spread in Singapore.

And come to think of it. Wasn't Chan Chun Seng so proudly a Major General? What if the military or civil services gave incentives to run/cycle/hike to work? A great nudge.

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