Thursday, 31 December 2015

Car-free Sundays for parts of CBD & Civic District

Parts of CBD and Civic District to try out car-free Sundays
By Adrian Lim, The Straits Times, 30 Dec 2015

Parts of the Central Business District (CBD) and Civic District will go car-free every last Sunday of the month in a pilot project to kick off early next year.

Under the six-month trial, cyclists and joggers will be able to enjoy a 4.7km route of fully and partially closed roads in the area in the morning, with community activities and mass workouts also being organised for the public.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) called a tender earlier this month to appoint an events management company to run the monthly programme, slated to start on Feb 28. A URA spokesman said: "This pilot is a step towards a 'car-lite' city, and aims to promote active lifestyles and enhance liveability in the city."

He added that it was "a way to reclaim the roads for cycling, jogging and walking, and make the city a more people-friendly and enjoyable place".

He said the roads to be closed - which include St Andrew's Road, Connaught Drive, Fullerton Road, Robinson Road and Shenton Way - were chosen because they are "under-utilised" on Sunday mornings.

The URA said it will review the six-month car-free pilot to see if roads in some areas can be closed on a regular basis on weekends for sports and community activities.

The car-free Sundays will coincide with an ongoing project to transform the Civic District - the area around the Padang, which is home to landmarks such as the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, the National Gallery and Esplanade Park - into a walkable precinct.

The first phase of the $66 million project has been completed, with the second stage to be finished by the fourth quarter of next year.

Car-free plan for CBD and Civic District 'will open up more recreational space'
Thumbs up for trial from experts, cyclists; motorists say it won't affect them greatly
By Adrian Lim, The Straits Times, 30 Dec 2015

Experts and cyclists have welcomed a pilot scheme to ban cars from the Central Business District (CBD) and Civic District on selected Sundays, saying it will create more recreational space.

Motorists believe it will not affect them greatly as many of the roads are quiet on that day.

The six-month trial by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is slated to start in February and be held every last Sunday of the month. It will see a 4.7km route being closed and given over to cyclists, joggers and walkers.

The concept is similar to Kuala Lumpur's Car Free Mornings, which are held twice a month, along a 7km stretch of road.

Mr Scott Dunn, the South-east Asia vice-president of global engineering group Aecom who was involved in the KL initiative, said car-free days offer a "higher-value use" of roads on the weekends.

"It's a fantastic use of the space to create opportunities for people to interact and to do things that they wouldn't normally be able to do on the streets. You create greater liveability in the city."

As part of the car-free Sundays, there will be full road closures around the Padang and partial road closures along Fullerton Road, Shenton Way and Robinson Road from 7am to 9am.

Following that, parts of Connaught Drive and St Andrew's Road will remain closed until noon, to allow people to walk around "activity zones" planned around the Padang, the URA spelt out in tender documents published this month.

The URA is looking to appoint an events management company to run the car-free programme.

At the Esplanade Park and Empress Lawn, the National Parks Board, the Health Promotion Board and SportSG will organise community and mass exercise activities in conjunction with the event.

Mr Francis Chu, co-founder of interest group Love Cycling SG, said cyclists who ride along the Singapore River and in the Marina Bay area will be able to connect to areas in the CBD and Civic District, making for a "scenic and enjoyable" trip.

Mr Chu said that by giving people an opportunity to cycle in parts of the CBD, some may even be "inspired" to use it as a means to commute to the office on weekdays.

"People will come to see that cycling can happen not just on Park Connector Networks or in parks, but on the roads," said Mr Chu.

Drivers told The Straits Times that the road closures would not be a hindrance. Bank employee Ken Chen, 27, who occasionally frequents the Marina Bay area on weekends, said the bulk of the road closures happen earlier in the morning, and will not affect him. As the Marina Bay area is well connected, Mr Chen said he could "take other routes" to get to where he wants to go.

While most pedestrians said they would enjoy walking in the car-free areas, some said it would not make a difference whether the roads are free of vehicles.

Communications graduate Joel Chan, 25, said: "It'll probably appeal to runners, but the window of time may be too narrow to attract casual pedestrians to enjoy a walk in the city centre."

Additional reporting by Joanna Seow

It's car-free in Kampong Glam and Liang Seah Street today, and the streets are buzzing with activity! Over the last 2...
Posted by Lawrence Wong on Saturday, January 30, 2016

Singapore needs cultural shift to become a city for people, not a city for cars: Lawrence Wong
By Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times, 30 Jan 2016

Singapore needs a "cultural shift" towards a car-lite future so as to be more sustainable in the long run, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said on Saturday.

Referring to the ongoing SGfuture dialogue sessions, in which the public are invited to share their ideas for Singapore's development, Mr Wong said: "One of the ideas that resonated tremendously with the participants young and old was a vision for a car-lite Singapore. And I think that's a very important national shift that we must strive to achieve."

Mr Wong, who was on a visit to car-free zones in Kampong Glam and Liang Seah street, cautioned against being over-reliant on cars.

He said: "If you look at what we have done over the last 50 years of development, we have built more roads, we have designed our city to accommodate more cars. And if you were to just project that trend for the next 50 years, I don't think it's going to be sustainable.

"We would literally have a city for cars than a city for people, and I think that would be a terrible outcome.

"It's not just about becoming a more environmentally-friendly environment. More fundamentally, it is about becoming a more attractive, a more liveable and a more people-friendly city."

Mr Wong said that Keong Saik Street and Armenian Street could be the next to become car-free zones. There are currently 11 such streets, including Haji Lane, Bali Lane and Club Street, which are closed to cars during certain hours on weekends.

Starting Feb 28, parts of the Civic and Central Business district, including the Padang, Robinson Road and Shenton Way, will also become a pedestrianised zone on the last Sunday of each month. The trial will last for six months.

Mr Wong said he hopes such an idea will catch on in the heartlands.

"We want this to be not just about the city centre. We want potentially car-free weekends or more pedestrianised streets also in the neighbourhoods, in the HDB heartlands," he said. "But as I said, this can only work with ownership and participation by the community."

* Mass events to kick off first car-free Sunday in heart of city

Six-month pilot starts on Feb 28, and will be held every last Sunday of each month till July
By Samantha Boh, The Straits Times, 17 Feb 2016

The Civic District and parts of the Central Business District (CBD) will be transformed into a car-free zone for the first time on Feb 28.

The area will host an array of activities, including mass aerobic workout sessions, walking tours and street performances by lion dancers, stilt walkers and more.

The six-month pilot will extend to July, and the car-free day will be on the last Sunday of each month.

Having spoken last month about how Singapore needed a cultural shift towards a car-lite future to be more sustainable in the long run, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said in a blog post yesterday that this initiative will take the vision a step farther.

"It will take tremendous effort and time to make our vision a reality. But if we want a future city that's cleaner and greener, and provides an even better quality of life for all, we must start to make changes now."

Our first Car-Free Sunday SG is coming up on 28 Feb! Join us to walk, cycle and experience the heart of our CBD and...
Posted by Lawrence Wong on Monday, February 15, 2016

The first Car-Free Sunday SG will kick off at 7am in front of the National Gallery Singapore, with a mass walking, jogging and cycling event along a 4.7km route of fully and partially closed roads.

Streets, including those around the Padang and Fullerton Road, will be fully closed to vehicles from 7am to 9am. Shenton Way and Robinson Road will be partially closed.

To make way for other activities such as yoga sessions, origami for kids and street performances, St Andrew's Road and part of Stamford Road will be closed until noon, while Connaught Drive will remain fully closed until 7pm.

The routes of 13 bus services will be diverted during the event.

Mr Andrew Fassam, senior director of urban design at the Urban Redevelopment Authority, said the CBD was chosen to pilot the initiative because it has very little traffic on Sunday mornings, and is also easily accessible by public transport.

"People can also cycle into the city along the park connectors and from the Singapore River, so it is very easy for people to come down and take part in the event," he said.

In fact, amateur cyclists are encouraged to take the chance to try out cycling as a means of commute, said Mr Fassam. And they can search for people to ride with on the Love Cycling SG Facebook events page.

Also, the Urban Redevelopment Authority has placed a map highlighting the different cycling routes to the CBD on its website, along with details on the various activities for Feb 28.

The National Gallery Singapore, Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) and Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall will be opening earlier - at 9am instead of 10am - for the event.

Fresh graduate Chew Kai Wei, 26, said he intends to go to the area on that day.

"It's something novel and sounds like a great way to spend time with family and friends."

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