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Breaking rules with a fold-up bike

india Updated: Dec 21, 2006 13:39 IST
Reuters
Reuters
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Chu Wa feels the small thrill of breaking Singapore's notoriously strict rules and getting away with it every time he wheels his pretend ‘shopping trolley’ through a shopping mall or along a train platform.

The contraption is actually a fold-up bicycle, which Wa designed to look like a shopping cart so he could take it through the many prohibited zones in the city.

"Singapore is absolutely not fair for cyclists," said the 46-year old product designer. After years of biking to work in the Netherlands, Wa gave up and bought a car when he moved to Singapore, finding its motorways and shopping malls bike-unfriendly.

"If you love cycling in Singapore, you have to accept the status of a secondary citizen, many places are 'restricted zones' and you are simply not welcome," he wrote on his blog, www.jz88.com.

At the same time as European cities are back-pedalling from cars to bikes in a bid to clean the air and ease congestion, rising affluence has seen bikes ditched from Beijing to Bangkok.

Bikes have been banned from parts of Shanghai, while bikers in Jakarta and Bangkok have mounted protests to campaign for better facilities. The lack of top-level support makes returning to cycling more difficult than it should be, said Wa, who had five regular bikes stolen from unguarded bike stands in Singapore.

His solution? The JZ88: a thief-proof bike that flips from shopping trolley to cycle in 8.8 seconds. With a shopping bag strapped over its handlebar, and spokes concealed under clear plastic shields, Chu's folding bike goes everywhere he does.

Weighing nine kilograms, it is small enough to fit under train seats and in taxi boots. Shoppers stare as he loads groceries into his trolley, and pedestrians at times laugh as his long legs pedal the little wheels. But Wa says his bike is more than a gimmick.

"My ideal is to see more Asian cities become bicycle friendly... The hurdle is so high, in terms of road safety, too much effort, or bad weather, that even the authorities can't do much," he said. "(But) the folding bike can be a bridge".

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