Singapore needs cultural shift to become a city for people, not a city for cars: Lawrence Wong

Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times AsiaOne 31 Jan 16;

SINGAPORE - 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."

Make S'pore a city for people, not cars: Minister
Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times AsiaOne 31 Jan 16;

Singapore needs a "cultural shift" towards a "car-lite" future that will make it more sustainable in the long run, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said yesterday.

If Singapore keeps building more roads and making way for more cars in the next half-century, he predicted: "We would literally have a city for cars rather than a city for people... That would be a terrible outcome."

Referring to the ongoing SGfuture dialogues, in which the public is invited to share its 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: "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.

"It's not just about becoming a more environmentally friendly environment... 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 become the next car-free zones.

There are currently 11 such streets here, including Haji Lane, Bali Lane and Club Street. These close to traffic during certain hours on weekends. From Feb 28, parts of the Civic and Central Business districts will also become pedestrianised zones on the last Sunday of each month, in a six-month trial.

Car-lite planning has even extended to new roads. The upcoming North-South Expressway will have lanes reserved for buses, as well as a cycling path and pedestrian walkway along the entire route.

Mr Wong hopes such a car-lite mentality will catch on in the heartland. "We want this to be not just about the city centre," he said. "We want potentially car-free weekends or more pedestrianised streets also in the neighbourhoods. But this can work only with ownership and participation by the community."

Architect Cai Bingyu, 32, who attended a dialogue yesterday, does not plan to own a car.

"We have a convenient public transport system, and car COEs (certificates of entitlement) are so expensive," he said. "A city should be more for people than vehicles. I'm glad we're moving in that direction."

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