Changing from a car-centric Paris to a cycling city

Also: (free) sparkling water dispenser. Genius!

I’ve not been in Paris since 2015, I believe. Feel like I should probably pop-by again and see if it really changed that much. I remember it to be mostly one big traffic jam with all the 2 and 3 wheeled motorcyclists racing in between.

It would be interesting to see if other major cities in Europe follow suit.

I’m actually quite looking forward to the biking future: riding (e-)bikes, a proper last-mile method (i.e. combing rental bikes or e-scooters with public high-speed railway).

Brussels definitely had a change of heart (for the better), but it’ll take 10+ years to properly realise all these projects. Is it too little, too late?

Bike Highways are becoming a thing in a few cities in Belgium (but not in Wallonia; and sadly, the one in Vilvoorde will take 4+ years to build). But I’m excited to see what this will become once all this is finalised.

Would love to see Singapore work on something similar.

For a very brief moment, we had rental bikes in Singapore that were hugely popular. That is, until the gahmen decided to regulate rental bikes because of stupid wild parkers; a lot of these companies either pulled out of Singapore or went bankrupt.

And we had e-scooters, that were banned pretty much overnight (or well, “only allowed on biking lances” — however, Singapore probably only has 5, or some absurd low number, biking lanes across the entire island; so it was an effective ban).

Since then, the desire of car ownership only went up (there is technically a cap — which is good, but leaves little alternative for families that need a car for things that are impractical with ride hailing). Speaking of, ride hailing companies are doing tremendously (prices nearly doubled in the past 2-3 years with the lack of competition).

I see an increase in (amateur) bikers, but it’s insanely dangerous as there’s no dedicated lanes except for a couple of PCN.

So dear Singapore, please please please build a city that does not revolve around cars (the plans are there, but all new development seem to still have all roads on top, with little to no cycling lanes).

Make it easier to use (e-)bikes, (e-)skateboards, unicycles and what not!


Car-centric cities

Having been fortunate enough to have seen quite a few parts of the world, and having been in Singapore for 6 years now — I’ve been able to start comparing places and looking at the “where next” question.

With Ila on the way, both as a parent and if I were a kid still — where would I want to grow up?

Growing up wasn’t a fan of Grimbergen because it was quite dull (but then again, it was very close to Brussels, and easily connected to Antwerp): I wanted a city, and that’s why I moved to Antwerp (and later Singapore).

Yet, now that I also value quality of life, Singapore is not very high on that list either. There’s an insane pressure on kids to be top of class and to perform, limited to no safe outdoor activities unless you live in a place with a pool/tennis court (everything else feels fake, you can’t get dirty as a kid), the lack of ownself transport methods (bike, skateboard, etc) to go to school/friends (public transport rocks, but that’s never as convenient as a bike for short distances).

I’m currently having mixed feelings between the big house in a quiet neighbourhood (not Suburbia, but something more like Finland/Norway outside of cities, with a forest, next to your home) vs. being in a city like Copenhagen.

While I would love to being closer to nature, I’d probably miss the benefits of the city life (like being close to an airport — we need to visit Belgium and Singapore after all, take-away food, quick and easy shopping, more friends/school options, a cinema, etc).

I wouldn’t mind this being my daily view. Lapland, Finland.

By the way, Johan has a good blog about living off-grid — which is a bit too extreme for me.

A city like Amsterdam or Copenhagen is probably a safer choice: less green, but easy and safe to get around as a pedestrian/biker, while still being in relative distance of nature or an escape out of the city.

Copenhagen: beautiful, individual freedom, tons of culture

And no, I won’t head back to Brussels; it’s a terrible for kids. It’s the wild west, where cars rule and the police won’t act.


Ghent and Antwerp are investing in car-free zones and making it pedestrian friendly, but I hate Antwerp’s lack of greenery (many beautiful trees are cut, everything is stone and concrete and feels like death. Moreover, it’s one big traffic jam due to lack of a sustainable solution to keep the cars out).

Antwerp Kaai: Imagine summer + global warming. Scorching death. Where are the trees?

Oh, and I got myself a Halfbike. So I’ll definitely be looking at places with biking lanes. 😉


A Wes Anderson-ish Singapore


Singapore’s tech-utopia dream is turning into a surveillance state nightmare


[migrant workers] labor and their identities are clearly commodified, something which is, at times, heartbreakingly visible. In a country that’s notoriously obsessed with safety, where jaywalking and failing to wear a seatbelt can be punished with jail time, migrant workers can be transported on the expressways in the back of goods vehicles. Calls for change after a series of fatal accidents this year were rejected, on the grounds it would be too expensive for their employers.


The sprawl of TraceTogether and SGWorkPass combined is a common pattern, said Alex Au, vice president of advocacy group Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) — that laws, systems and technology grow beyond their roots. “The nature of these multiple purpose apps is that one part of it may be legitimate or justifiable. But because [of that], you don’t question the other parts that come bundled together.”

In August 2020, the police added a new tool to help them physically monitor the dorms. They deployed another robot, M.A.T.A.R, as well as drones, to patrol the dormitories and enforce “safe distancing” rules.


But there is clearly discontent, on social media and in private conversations, about the pandemic rules, which have flipped from permissive to restrictive and back again as the country figures out how willing it is to “live with Covid.” Few experts expect that the additional surveillance measures put in place for contact tracing will ever end, even when the risk of transmission subsides. There’s a general acceptance that these are now permanent, political tools.


Several times, Wham has been caught up in the tightening space for dissent. In 2020, he was jailed for 10 days for hosting a live discussion via Skype with the Hong Kong pro-democracy figurehead Joshua Wong. A Facebook post saying that Singapore’s judges were less impartial than their Malaysian counterparts led to a charge of “scandalizing the judiciary.” Other online critics and independent media have been targeted with an array of legal tools, being forced to register as political organizations and being targeted by criminal defamation proceedings.


That’s but a small part of the whole article.


#PGHomeStories | Yeri Tiete & Shan Wong’s Home Refinancing Journey

Shan and I recorded this a few months ago for PropertyGuru. Didn’t know it was also on YouTube (they were mostly using it in ads and on facebook/Instagram). Keeping it here as archive. 🙂