Make walking, cycling and public transport the Singaporean way of life: MOT

The Ministry of Transport aims to have three in four commuters choosing public transport as their main mode of travel by 2030. "We will support this shift by making it much easier to walk and cycle in Singapore," said Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure Khaw Boon Wan.
Edric Sng Channel NewsAsia 21 Jan 16;

SINGAPORE: The aim is to have three in four commuters choose public transport as their main mode of travel by 2030, a proportion rising to 85 per cent by the 2050s. To make this "car-lite" vision come to pass, the Government will invest a projected S$36 billion in public transport expenditure over the next 5 years, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

Citing a 1975 speech by the late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Khaw said on Thursday (Jan 21) that the objective is "a city pleasant, green and cool, and safety and convenience for the pedestrian".

Asked the Transport Minister: "Can we build on Mr Lee’s legacy of a clean and green city and his people-centric vision to transform Singapore into a city that prides itself on public transport, walking and cycling, instead of driving? We are not quite there yet, but I believe that together, we can make a car-lite Singapore a reality."

Rail reliability remains the "top priority", while the Government will improve walking and cycling connections, particularly to train stations and bus stops, Mr Khaw, who is also the Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, said in the Ministry of Transport's addendum to President Tony Tan Keng Yam's opening address to Parliament last Friday.

"Within Singapore, we have laid the foundations for a public transport system that is reliable, convenient, and affordable. We aim to have three out of four commuters take public transport as their main mode of travel by 2030, and at least 85 per cent by the 2050s," he said.

"We will support this shift by making it much easier to walk and cycle in Singapore, since this is how almost every public transport commuter gets to the MRT station or bus stop today. With safe and comfortable facilities, we hope too that Singaporeans will increasingly walk or cycle to neighbourhood amenities."

He added that technology and innovation - such as self-driving vehicles and new urban designs - will also support a "new mobility paradigm" that does not revolve around the private car.

IMPROVING THE TRAIN, BUS NETWORK

The ministry aims to make walking, cycling, and riding public transport become the way of life for Singaporeans, said Mr Khaw.

Central to these plans is improving rail reliability, with the train operators and Land Transport Authority set to recruit "many" additional engineers and technicians to shore up maintenance capabilities, as well as implementing more stringent maintenance requirements, he said.

The rail network will double to 360km in the next 15 years, with a new line or MRT extension opening almost every year until 2021 - by which time there will be an MRT station within a 5-minute walk from any location in the central area, and 8 in 10 households will be within a 10-minute walk of a station by 2030, said the Transport Minister.

Existing routes will be enhanced, he added. Major renewal works for the trunk North-South and East-West MRT Lines will be completed by 2018, and service levels of existing train and bus networks will be raised in the next five years, in large part due to the new bus contracting model.

"FROM DOORSTEP TO DESTINATION"

To improve connectivity to public transport nodes over the next five years, the length of covered walkways will be quadrupled, while dedicated cycling paths will be built in more towns, Mr Khaw said.

Ang Mo Kio and Tampines will pilot a "fully integrated, seamless" walking and cycling network; Kampong Bugis will pilot new design concepts for private developments that facilitate seamless walking and cycling; while Bidadari Town will have a walking greenway and cycling paths connecting to its two MRT stations, he added. Other cycling connectivity improvements include the Queenstown-City Link and the Bishan-Kallang Link.

For longer-distance connectivity, the planned North-South Expressway will be reconfigured to be part of a “North-South Corridor” that will include express bus lanes and a cycling trunk route to the city, said Mr Khaw, while the revitalised Bencoolen Street will include wide pedestrian paths and a dedicated cycling lane.

More trials are planned for self-driving vehicle technology, which could complement and "radically improve" the public transport experience, he said.

One knock-on benefit of reducing the number of cars needed on the road: Safer journeys for pedestrians, in particular children and the elderly. More "silver zones" and "school zones" are in the pipeline, the Transport Ministry said.

BIGGER, BETTER AIR AND SEA PORTS

Mr Khaw also outlined the major infrastructure projects in the works to strengthen the competitiveness of Singapore's air and sea hubs.

Changi Airport Terminal 4 and Jewel Changi Airport are on track to commence operations in 2017 and 2019, respectively, while Terminal 5 is expected to be completed in the second half of the 2020s. A three-runway system will be in place in the early 2020s, and more investment will be made in air traffic management capabilities, he said.

By the end of 2017, Pasir Panjang Terminal Phases 3 and 4 will grow Singapore's seaport capacity by more than 40 per cent come. The first set of berths of the new Tuas Terminal will be ready by 2021.

But beyond mere capacity, the Government hopes to improve the efficiency and productivity of the air and sea ports using innovative design and cutting-edge technology, both at new and existing facilities, Mr Khaw said. More investment in skills is also planned to train and develop the aviation and maritime sector workforce.

Said the Transport Minister: "Our aviation and maritime sectors are the lifeline of Singapore’s economy. They provide the global connectivity needed by companies, and keep Singapore at the heart of international business and trade. They ensure our attractiveness as a global city, facilitating the flow of people, goods, services, and ideas. They contribute about 13 per cent of our GDP and more than 330,000 jobs.

"We cannot take this for granted."

- CNA/mz

‘Bold’ moves for car-lite Singapore in the offing
AMANDA LEE Today Online 22 Jan 16;

SINGAPORE – In a decisive step towards making cycling one of the Republic’s key transport modes, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will be studying how to turn the impending North-South Expressway (NSE) into a North-South Corridor.

The reconfiguration will feature a 21.5-km cycling trunk route into the city that spans the entire corridor, as well as dedicated bus lanes for express bus services serving the corridor, and wide walking paths along the surface corridor with greenery for shade.

In his ministry’s addendum to the President’s address to Parliament, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said today (Jan 21): “Our aspiration is for walking, cycling, and riding public transport to become the way of life for Singaporeans.”

In a blog post on the addendum later, Mr Khaw said: “There is a growing consensus among developed cities that fewer cars mean less traffic congestion, less air and noise pollution, and more land for public spaces and amenities.

“Cities designed to encourage active mobility, such as walking and cycling, also improve mental and physical health, reduce stress, and build a strong sense of community. Overall, car-lite cities make for a better quality of life.”

In the addendum, Mr Khaw also outlined the Transport Ministry’s plans for the next five years, which include restoring Bencoolen Street.

For the construction of Downtown Line 3’s (DTL 3) Bencoolen station, part of Bencoolen Street between Middle Road and Bras Basah Road has been closed since Oct 2011.

However, when Bencoolen Street reopens to the public next year, two of the four original lanes will be converted into wide footpaths lined with trees and benches for pedestrians.

There will also be a dedicated cycling path connecting Rochor Canal and Bukit Timah to the Central Business District.

This is among other cycling connectivity improvements such as Queenstown-City Link and the Bishan-Kallang Link, said Mr Khaw.

More bicycle parking facilities will also be provided in the area. A dedicated bus lane will also be incorporated into the design of Bencoolen Street.

Works are expected to start from the middle of next year and will be completed together with the DTL3 station next year.

The Government has always been pushing for Singaporeans to walk, cycle and take the public transport.

By 2030, the Government aims to have three out of four commuters taking the public transport as their “main mode” of travel, and at least 85 per cent by the 2050s.

“We will support this shift by making it much easier to walk and cycle in Singapore, since this is how almost every public transport commuter gets to the MRT station or bus stop today,” said Mr Khaw.

He also said a car-centric transport system is not sustainable in Singapore where space is an issue.

“Already, one million private vehicles ply the roads today and 12 per cent of our land is used for roads,” said Mr Khaw.

He noted that “a growing number of cities are also decisively” moving their transportation model away from private cars, for an improved urban environment and high quality of life.

Previously, in an interview with TODAY in August last year after he had announced he was stepping down, former Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew addressed the idea of having dedicated cycling lanes.

Stressing that the Government wanted to make buses the “kings of the road”, he said: “If I can widen the roads by another 1.5m, am I actually better off moving that space off the road? Those are the questions we have to answer.” He added that it was safer to keep cyclists off the roads but they should also be segregated from pedestrians.


Longer covered walkways, cycling paths to be built
AMANDA LEE Today Online 22 Jan 16;

As part of the Government’s plans to encourage Singaporeans to go “car-lite”, the length of covered walkways here will be quadrapled, and dedicated cycling paths will be built in more towns in the next five years.

This will be designed into new housing estates while existing estates will be retrofitted. Ang Mo Kio and Tampines will pilot a “fully integrated and seamless walking and cycling network”, while Kampong Bugis will pilot new design concepts for private developments that facilitates seamless walking and cycling. Bidadari, the site of a successful HDB flat launch last year, will have a walking greenway and cycling paths connecting to its two MRT stations.

“Our aspiration is for walking, cycling and riding public transport to become the way of life for Singaporeans,” said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan in his ministry’s addendum to the President’s Address released yesterday.

The Government will also do more to make streets safer, by continuing to roll out more “silver zones” and “school zones” which allow the elderly and the vulnerable to move about safely.

“Our aspiration is also motivated by the desire for safer streets,” said Mr Khaw. “We can go a long way towards a future of zero road fatalities by designing streets for the more vulnerable users — children, the elderly and other pedestrians — rather than cars.” AMANDA LEE


North-South Corridor, Bencoolen Street to be cyclist and pedestrian friendly
Original plans for the North-South Expressway and Bencoolen Street have been reimagined to include cycling paths and pedestrian walkways, the Land Transport Authority announces.
Edric Sng Channel NewsAsia 21 Jan 16;

SINGAPORE: As part of plans to make walking, cycling and taking public transport the primary means of commuting in Singapore, the Land Transport Authority unveiled what it called two "signature" conversion projects - incorporating more cyclist and pedestrian-friendly dimensions to the original plans for the North-South Expressway and Bencoolen Street.

The planned North-South Expressway - originally conceived as a 21.5km road to connect towns in the North to the city centre - will be reconfigured to be part of a “North-South Corridor” that will include express bus lanes and a cycling trunk route to the city, said the LTA on Thursday (Jan 21), expanding on Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan's addendum to President Tony Tan Keng Yam's opening address in Parliament.

According to visuals supplied by the Land Transport Authority, the design of this Corridor will be tiered, with dedicated cycling and walking paths on the surface, lined with trees, and roads alongside and underground. The finalised design and timeline will be released at a later date, said the LTA.

Mr Khaw also pointed to the remaking of Bencoolen Street as an example of what the Government is trying to achieve with the shift away from cars as a primary mode of commuting.

The stretch of Bencoolen Street between Middle Road and Bras Basah Road has been closed since October 2011 for the construction of Downtown Line 3's Bencoolen Station. When reopened in 2017, two of the original car lanes will be converted into wide, tree-lined footpaths, as well as a dedicated cycling path connecting Rochor Canal and Bukit Timah to the Central Business District. More bicycle parking facilities will also be provided in the area.

Works are scheduled to start from the middle of 2016, and be completed with the Bencoolen station in 2017, said LTA.

Other cycling connectivity improvements include the Queenstown-City Link and the Bishan-Kallang Link, while mature and upcoming towns will include "integrated, seamless" connections between the walking and cycling network and train and bus hubs, said Mr Khaw.

- CNA/mz


Govt’s commitment to make cycling a viable commuting choice lauded
AMANDA LEE Today Online 22 Jan 16;

SINGAPORE — Cycling enthusiasts applauded the Government’s eye-catching move to incorporate dedicated paths for two-wheelers in the redesign of the North-South Expressway, noting that it demonstrates the will to create a car-lite environment in Singapore.

Still, transport analysts and Members of Parliament (MPs) noted that some minor details on the use of these paths remain to be ironed out, with safety in mind.

Mr Woon Taiwoon, who co-founded cycling group Love Cycling SG, hailed the incorporation of cycling into the emphasis on upping connectivity across the island.

“The new expressway design is a very innovative approach which further demonstrates the car-lite intent,” said the 42-year-old product designer. “We are delighted to see cycling being integrated fully into the plans.”

Mr Lam Shiu Tong, a cyclist for almost 30 years, said it shows the commitment to make cycling a commuting choice. “This is fantastic. Cyclists have been waiting for this for a long time,” said the 49-year-old, a senior director at Singapore Sports Hub.

Agreeing, Mr Francis Chu, also a co-founder of Love Cycling SG said: “The Government is committed to make cycling a viable choice for commuting.” The 56-year-old added that facilitating cycling as a mode of transport is “long overdue”.

While they welcomed the move, experts and MPs on the transport government parliamentary committee said there can be greater clarity on the usage of the cycling paths to make it safer for everyone.

MP Ang Wei Neng (Jurong GRC) suggested installing a divider to separate vehicular traffic and bicycles. “So that when (a) car wants to move to the cycling path it hits the kerb and prevents (accidents) from happening,” he added. “We need to have some safety precaution.” Mr Ang was also concerned about the kind of bicycles and personal mobility devices (PMDs) that will be allowed on the cycling lanes.

The Land Transport Authority has set up a panel to explore the rules and norms that govern the use of footpaths and cycling paths. This could possibly include regulations on the use of bicycles and PMDs. The panel will decide on the enforcement that should accompany these rules and norms, which will be compiled in a report by the second quarter of this year.

SIM University senior lecturer Walter Theseira said: “For high-speed bicycle commuting, the path absolutely has to be separated from vehicle traffic, ideally by hard barriers — such as curbs — but also separated from pedestrian traffic, though this could be done with softer barriers. If separation is not achieved, bicyclists will be fighting with pedestrians for space and there will more pedestrian-cyclist accidents, which will probably hurt the adoption of bicycling as an accepted mode of transit here.”

On whether there can be more cycling lanes in future, MP Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten SMC) said it depends on the result of this particular project. “If you create a cycling trunk (route) and that leads to cyclists riding everywhere in an irresponsible manner, there will be a backlash,” he said.

“I’m concerned that if cyclists feel that ‘well, I am entitled to ride on the road whichever way I want’, there will be adverse reactions from other motorists.”

Cyclists applaud LTA’s bike-friendly initiatives, but raise concerns about congestion
“Simply painting a couple of lines does not necessarily address some underlying concerns,” a cyclist says of plans to make the North-South Corridor and Bencoolen Street more bicycle, pedestrian and bus-friendly.
Justin Ong Channel NewsAsia 21 Jan 16;

SINGAPORE: Local cyclists and motorists have welcomed new projects unveiled on Thursday (Jan 21) by the Ministry of Transport and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in bid to foster a culture of walking, cycling and public transport in Singapore.

But several individuals Channel NewsAsia spoke with also outlined their concerns over the possibility of congested pavements and called for greater education and awareness between users of different modes of transport.

Under LTA’s new plans, the upcoming North-South Expressway will be part of a “North-South Corridor” that includes an off-road cycling trunk route to the city and express bus lanes on the highway. And Bencoolen Street, once reopened upon completion of the Downtown Line, will see a dedicated bus lane on top of an off-road cycling lane to connect Rochor Canal and Bukit Timah to the Central Business District.

The authorities also announced other cycling connectivity improvements like a Queenstown-City Link and Bishan-Kallang Link.

“It's great to see some sort of initiative that could potentially increase cyclist safety,” said Mr Bjorn Wong, who cycles to and from work. “If the roads in question fall along my route to work, it would allow for much less stressful commutes.”

Echoing his point was Mr Muhammad Rezal Ramli, who cycles from his home in the East to his workplace in the city. “This will definitely make my commute more direct, faster and definitely safer, and attract more bike commuters to hop on,” he said.

“Anything that reduces traffic congestion on the road is a good thing,” said Stephen Ames, a bicycle shop owner who delivers and collects goods on his bike.

Avid cyclist Darren Ho highlighted the current road situation along Bencoolen Street as “very dangerous for cyclists, because of the sheer capacity of traffic”. But he said he would hit the roads “a lot more” with the new dedicated cycling routes.

Calling it “a great move towards a more “car-lite” situation”, cyclist Nicholas Cordeiro said: “This sends the right signal to cyclists that there are provisions for them ... an added incentive to ride.”

MOTORISTS REACT

Despite the dedicated bus and cycling lanes taking up space otherwise used for car lanes, drivers and motorbike riders Channel NewsAsia spoke with were generally in support of the initiatives.

“Dedicated lanes for cyclists are good because it's far less dangerous than sharing the road with vehicles," said Ms Adele Chan. "As a driver I think it will improve efficiency on the road. It's better to give this system a try than not try to improve at all."

Another driver, Mr Gavin Chian, said it was “worth a shot at creating a good system for cyclists”.

“It's refreshing to see the authorities take such a big step to encourage more people to commute via bicycle,” said Mr Kevin Ho, who rides a motorbike to work.

“I used to cycle to work, but heavy traffic and inconsiderate drivers put an end to that. The North-South Corridor does not affect my route to work since I live in the East, but hopefully dedicated bicycle lanes will be rolled out to other parts of the island very soon,” he added.

But Ms Chan also noted: "The Bencoolen Street area has always been a mess, and traffic was particularly bad when construction began. It's worrying that there will be one less lane for cars, but who knows, maybe after the roadworks clear up, overall traffic will be smoother."

Driver Terence Chew welcomed the news, but observed that to encourage more bicycle-commuting, the implementations would require additional steps such as showering facilities at the workplace - a point also raised by Mr Ames.

TO CYCLE ON OR OFF THE ROAD

The long-standing debate of whether cyclists belong to the pavement or the roads also came into focus when the cyclists Channel NewsAsia spoke to expressed worry over the use of the dedicated cycling lanes. The artist impression provided by LTA shows the cycling lane right next to the pedestrian path.

“If pedestrians have access to the lanes, we may well end up with congestion so similar to East Coast Park (ECP) on weekends,” said Mr Wong and Mr Cordeiro, with the latter jokingly adding: “Hopefully these lanes don't get abused by motorcycles!”

Mr Cordeiro, Mr Ho and Mr Ames all said that having bicycles share the road with cars instead would provide for pedestrian safety.

Said Mr Ames: “I believe that bike lanes should be road-based, leaving pedestrians to pavement environments, and bicycle riders on these lanes should follow the rules of the road.”

The road is safer, said Mr Cordeiro, as “pedestrians won't become a hazard”.

“Cyclists on the roads is ideal yes, but in reality a tough one to implement,” noted Mr Chew. “Also, there is a glaring lack of awareness on road etiquette towards and from both cyclists and drivers.”

But others like Ms Chan dismissed the idea of bicycles on roads as “too dangerous for everyone”, while Mr Rezal argued for the merits of sticking to the pavement instead.

“At this point of time, with so much discord between motorists and cyclists, riding on the road is not ideal. It will discourage others who might be thinking of commuting by bike,” said the 35-year-old teacher. “I believe Singapore can differentiate itself from other established cycling cities by getting cyclists to stay along the pavement as compared to roads.”

EDUCATION THE SOLUTION

The best way forward, according to Mr Ho, Mr Wong and Mr Cordeiro, is to educate cyclists and motorists alike on etiquette.

“Some form of regulation or bike-lane code needs to be in place, so people are educated on how to use it, with consideration of other users and safety,” said Mr Cordeiro.

Mr Ames went one step further with recommendations for how to design the lanes or provide for bicycles on the roads.

“Cycle lanes should be wide enough to allow riders to overtake one another safely, and if taking two directions of traffic, be marked with central lines,” he said. “And simple ideas such as waiting boxes for cyclists at the front of red traffic light queues help to give dedicated space at junctions to wait and feel secure in.”

The 48-year-old added: “Singapore is a perfect country to set up a strong cycling infrastructure; it is compact and has a climate that enables year round cycling.”

Meanwhile, Mr Wong indicated that it boils down to keeping a sense of entitlement in check.

“Simply painting a couple of lines does not necessarily address some underlying concerns,” he said. “It may reduce the chances of incidents taking place ... but the mindset of mutual respect must be communicated as public service announcements.”

“If the fundamental cause isn't addressed, friction between groups of road users will continue to exist. We cannot afford to have motorists demand priority for road usage, or assuming bicycling is a lesser option.”

- CNA/jo

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