Lawyer Niel Liebenberg, 40, cycles to work twice a week,his folded business shirt and pressed trousers in his backpack.

To him, the 25-minute trip from his East Coast home to his workplace in Marina Bay is the 'calm before work'.

More professionals like Mr Liebenberg, many living outside the city, now cycle to work, typically in the Central Business District.

Many leave their homes by 7.30am to 8am, before the traffic gets heavy. It also gives them time to wash up and change before starting work.

In Mr Liebenberg's case, his office building has dedicated areas for bicycles, which save him the trouble of finding a railing to secure his bike.

No one knows how many professionals now cycle to work in the city. But Mr Ryan Li, 32, who owns Bike Labz in the east, reckons from chats with his customers that 30 per cent to 40 per cent of them cycle to work.

Bike specialist Alan Soh, 24, who works at Athlete's Circle on Boon Tat Street in the CBD, has seen an uptrend too.

'We get about two or three people asking every month this year if we are keen to provide bike storage facilities.

'We had only one customer asking every few months last year,' he said.

Transport analyst Tham Chen Munn notes a variation of this trend: 'mix-commuting', where cyclists take their foldable bikes on board trains and cycle to their office from the nearest MRT station.

Last year, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said 1,600 more bicycle parking racks will be added at 10 MRT stations by September this year. This is timely, as cycling is growing in popularity.

A 2005 national sports participation survey found that cycling ranked seventh in the list of top 20 sports. About 110,000 people cited it as their top sport, up from about 80,000 in 2001.

Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew said last month in Parliament that by 2014, there will be at least another 50km of intra-town cycling paths and another 16km in the Marina Bay area.

More offices in the CBD are also providing biking facilities.

A check with 30 office buildings in the CBD found 12 with bicycle parking areas that contain from five to 211 spaces.

Capital Tower in Robinson Road, which was completed in 2000, included 14 bicycle spaces in its plans. They are usually fully occupied.

Asia Square Tower 1, near Gardens by the Bay in Marina Bay, was completed in June last year. It has shower facilities and 211 bicycle spaces.

Still, the lack of proper bike-parking areas in the city poses a problem for some riders.

Cafe owner Danny Pang, 42, cycles from his home in Simei about twice a week to visit his cafe outlets in the CBD.

But Mr Pang finds the dearth of proper biking facilities a problem. On days when he has to go to office buildings with no bike parking, he rides his 12kg foldable Brompton bicycle, which he can carry along with him.

'It is very difficult for me to cycle if there are no parking spots around... My bike is not cheap and I can't risk having it stolen,' he said.

IT consultant Calvin Boo, 42, has been cycling from his Bukit Timah home every day for the past six months.

After using his car to take his children to school, he returns home to park, before making his 20-minute commute to work at Raffles Place.

'Cycling to work gives me my morning exercise, and it's faster than taking the bus or train, which takes about 40 to 50 minutes,' he said.