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9 Cycling Tips from The Woke Salaryman

Posted on | 29 Oct 2021

Image of He Ruiming, avid cyclist and co-founder of The Woke Salaryman

Green transport is the next frontier, with electric cars already plying Singapore roads. But for He Ruiming – the brains behind financial site The Woke Salaryman – the old-school bicycle is still his go-to mode of travel. We ask the 32-year-old, who has been cycling to work since 2016, to share his experience on two wheels.

1. What convinced you to start cycling to work? 

I went to the United Kingdom for a holiday in the early 2010s and rented a car. At the end of the trip, I got hit with a lot of charges. I remember feeling furious about the fees, so I looked for cycling tours during subsequent holidays instead. So this started off as a recreational thing, then I decided to buy a bicycle and try to integrate cycling into my life. The most convenient use was cycling to work.

Graphic of Tips for How-To Guide to Active Mobility
2. What are some benefits of cycling to work? 

Cycling can be much faster than taking the bus and it has a lot of health benefits. It is way cheaper than owning a car, and I save around $120 a month on transport. I see bicycles as a gym and car rolled into one – it’s my own form of private transportation that also allows me to burn 500 calories daily.

3. How do you ensure a safe journey while riding on the roads? 

I have a driver’s licence, so I use my driving knowledge to predict what other drivers will do and ensure I keep within the road rules. I also wear my helmet for safety, and keep to the left lane if I’m not overtaking or turning right because I will feel bad if my bicycle is blocking other road users. That said, there are elements beyond the control of a cyclist, and there’s still room for improvement on how Singapore can further develop the environment for cyclists.

Graphic showing person exercising at gym, beside a car, beside a cyclist riding a bike
Graphic of Tips for Exploring Singapore's Network of Cycling Routes
4. What are some of your favourite sights and sounds along your commute? 

My current route spans 11-12km from the Queenstown area where I live to Kallang, which I can complete in 30 minutes on a good day. After a long stretch along Pasir Panjang Road beside the sea, I turn into Anson Road and the tall buildings make me feel like I’m entering a big city. Towards the Kallang Basin, there are nice architectural views with the Padang on the right and the National Gallery Singapore on the left. 

Sometimes, I switch up the route when heading home, following the Singapore River on the way back and turning into the Park Connector Network near River Valley. In the evening, you can see people walking dogs and feel the changing vibes of different neighbourhoods as you cycle past them.

Pro-tip: Visit our Transport Tools page to check out the Cycling Routes in Singapore.

Collage of National Gallery, Singapore River and Keppel Bay
5.  How has cycling changed your life? 

Cycling is an odd way to travel to work in Singapore. For me, it’s a stepping stone to making unconventional decisions. It helps me resist a lot of societal peer pressure, such as owning a car by 30 and having an expensive wedding. Now I am able to see Singapore in a different light and realise that there are many life paths and non-textbook Singaporean dreams to follow.

6. What were the reactions from family and friends when you told them about cycling to work? 

A lot of them thought I was crazy and asked why I was so weird. But I just kept at it and they eventually realised it’s not a passing fad. My parents initially feared for my safety but I’m generally quite a careful rider, so they got used to it after a few years when nothing major happened. But my dad still reminds me to turn on my lights when it gets dark.

7. What essential items do you carry in your bag when cycling to work? 

Since 2020, I’ve been cycling to a swimming complex near my office to swim 20 laps before work. After that, I will shower and change before taking a leisurely 600m ride to the office. I pack a towel, shampoo and fresh clothes. In the past when I was an employee, I brought buttoned shirts and rolled them so they wouldn’t get too crumpled. These days, I prefer clothes that don’t require much ironing.

Graphic of Tips for Where to Ride Your Device
8. What are some of the best ways to physically and mentally prepare yourself before cycling to work? 

The best thing you can do is find a weekend to scout the journey on a bicycle – any bicycle sold at sports stores for $300-$500 works best for beginners. Use any available navigation Maps to find somewhere with shower facilities nearby if your office does not have any. You can expect your first few tries to be slow, but you will gradually increase in speed. Try not to cycle on the road if you’re just starting out.

9. How do you find the energy to cycle to work and then ride home after a long day? 

Cycling makes me one of the healthiest among my friends and gives me more energy. Some people do weightlifting or rock climbing, but you can’t integrate them into your life as much as cycling. It is similar to doing yoga before work – just that it is also a form of transport and a lot cheaper than some fitness classes.

Graphic for Tips to freshen up with image of dry tee, porridge and deodorant
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