Parts of CBD and Civic District to try out car-free Sundays

Adrian Lim, Straits Times AsiaOne 30 Dec 15;

A view of the Padang and the CBD as seen from Swissotel The Stamford. Cyclists and joggers can enjoy a 4.7km route of fully and partially closed roads.

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 'will open up more recreational space'
Adrian Lim, Joanna Seow, The Straits Times AsiaOne 31 Dec 15;

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."

CBD outfits give thumbs up to car-free Sundays
Seow Bei Yi, My Paper AsiaOne 1 Jan 16;

Establishments in the Central Business and Civic districts said they welcome plans for "car-free Sunday" in the area and look forward to more vibrancy there.

The six-month trial by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is slated to start in late February and take place every last Sunday of the month. A proposed 4.7km route will be closed and reserved for cyclists, joggers and pedestrians.

Giovanni Viterale, general manager of The Fullerton Heritage, said the initiative will create a higher level of vibrancy in the precinct.

The Fullerton Heritage includes The Fullerton Hotel, The Fullerton Bay Hotel, Clifford Pier and Customs House, which are near or along Fullerton Road.

Mr Viterale said: "We are certain that the public will appreciate the opportunity to experience the precinct and its key attractions in a different manner, whether on foot or on a bicycle."

As part of the car-free Sundays, there will be full road closures around the Padang and partial closures along Fullerton Road, Shenton Way and Robinson Road from 7am to 9am. Parts of Connaught Drive and St Andrew's Road will remain closed until noon.

This will allow people to walk around "activity zones" planned around the Padang, said URA in tender documents published last month.

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

URA plans for partial closures of Shenton Way, Robinson and Fullerton roads to be on the right side of the lane, away from the bus stop, to minimise disruption to bus services.

Chong Siak Ching, chief executive officer of the National Gallery Singapore, said it had been consulted in the planning process.

She said that the initiative will encourage more visitors to go to the Gallery in St Andrew's Road and explore the area, while allowing amenities in the Civic District to work together to extend activities to the public.

Some shops are waiting for details of the initiative to be finalised to see if it will affect business.

"Sunday usually has a smaller customer crowd but more car drivers are seen," said Jacqueline Lim, assistant director of Renaissance Properties, which manages Lau Pa Sat Festival Market on Raffles Quay. She hopes that roadside parking will be considered in the final plans and expressed support for the initiative.

There are 11 car-free zones in Singapore. Many have been successful, including Circular Road, which is closed from 6pm to 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.

"There was a footfall increase of 15 per cent during the road closure period in 2014, compared with 2013," said Anitha Immanuel, place manager of Singapore River One, which represents the interests of all stakeholders in the Singapore River precinct, including Circular Road.

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