For the last month, I’ve worked three days a week out of my guest office at NTU. On alternate days and most weekends, I start the day with a brisk but relaxing 90-minute, 30-km bike ride along the Ulu Pandan Park Connector. Given my home base in the Pasir Panjang area of Singapore, this route has much to recommend it. Other than a few road crossings at the very beginning (and end), it’s completely away from traffic and off the sidewalk. The North Bank extension is quiet and tree-lined, and a destination for the rapidly growing community of Singapore’s birdwatchers. And it’s almost entirely flat, so it’s more like a morning stroll than a heavy workout.
Like my regular commute to NTU, my Ulu Pandan loop starts out along West Coast Road and the West Coast Park Connector. But once I turn off that onto the Pandan Gardens Park Connector, the noise abates as the track parallels the canal. The beautiful three-loop overpass over the limited-access AYE ends at the Ulu Pandan Park Connector; bearing right takes one onto the North Bank to the northeast.
The North Bank connector is a known hotspot for Singapore’s burgeoning community of birdwatchers. On the day I made a video of this bike loop, there were easily 50-100 folks lined up watching and photographing the resident grey-headed fish eagle.
Just southwest of the Clementi Road crossing is the Van Kleef Aquatic Science Centre, designed by Frven Lim in the shape of a flowing wave. It features a series of striking murals depicting the urban water cycle, research at the centre into water management, and public responsibility for conserving water. The murals were designed and produced by Udita Awasthi, a graphic designer and artist currently based in Singapore.
On this side of the canal, the North Bank Park Connector alternates between pavement and packed sand and gravel, so PMDs (those ubiquitous and annoying electric scooters, segues, and the like) are discouraged and rare. Otters are sighted not infrequently, and I had the pleasure of watching one (albeit not photographing it) swimming by the Van Kleef Centre.
After leaving the Park Connector Network, the last leg of this loop passes by (or through, depending on one’s mood), Clementi Woods Park. This lovely urban park, just north of West Coast Park and adjacent to NUS’s campus even has a Woodball course that has been the site of the Singpore Lion City Cup International Woodball Open Championship in years past. Definitely an event not to be missed once COVID restrictions are lifted!