Green week gets pedal power

Liaw Wy-Cin, Straits Times 20 Aug 09;

EAST will meet West on Saturday when about 100 cyclists push off from opposite ends of the island to meet in the city.

The riders, starting from East Coast Park and West Coast Park, will converge on the Singapore Management University campus in Bras Basah, to kick off this year's Green Transport Week.

The campaign, organised by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC), will be launched by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Dr Amy Khor.

First launched in 2006, the campaign aims to encourage people to form a car pool and to use public transport, green cars and alternative means of transport such as walking or cycling, said SEC executive director Howard Shaw.

Since then, more people have taken to environmentally friendly hybrid cars - from about 300 to more than 1,000 now, he added.

The focus on public transport will give individuals the power to make a difference in fighting climate change.

Said Mr Shaw: 'Many people think climate change is such a big problem - 'I'm so small, Singapore is so small'. People become apathetic and lose hope. But transport is something we have to do on a day-to-day basis.'

He added: 'If you take the train to work instead of a private car, you use 12 times less energy. And if you form a car pool to work, you reduce your carbon footprint by half.'

This year's launch will feature a concert and a showcase of hybrid and compressed natural gas (CNG) cars, as well as electric scooters.

Singapore's two major public transport operators are also taking part.

SMRT will hold an exhibition at the launch, showcasing its CNG-powered taxis. It will also hold a lucky draw where participants stand to win one year's worth of free travel on SMRT trains, LRT and buses.

SBS Transit will give away a limited supply of free bags at its North East Line's Dhoby Ghaut MRT station and the Toa Payoh bus interchange tomorrow at 8am and 12.30pm.

It's time to go public
Esther Ng, Today Online 20 Aug 09;

DITCH that car, take a bus or a train and help save the environment.

This is one of several ways to show your support for the Green Transport Week - back after a three-year break due to funding issues - which kicks off on Saturday.

The campaign began in 2000 as Car-Free Day, in which Singaporeans were encouraged to not use their cars for a day.

Over the years, the message has evolved to encourage Singaporeans to look at all the transport options available, such as car pooling and public transport, including taxis.

"The taxi service is green in the sense that it provides an alternative to private car ownership," said Mr Howard Shaw, executive director of the Singapore Environment Council (SEC), the campaign organiser.

When asked if the SEC has compromised its green message over the years, Mr Shaw disagreed: "I wouldn't call it compromise but adaptation. When we first did Car-Free Day, it was a simple message. What we did learn is that Singaporeans do love their cars and there is no one silver bullet for Singapore's urban transport system to be sustainable."

Instead, a more effective way, he argued, is a balanced mix of different transport solutions. "Since motor vehicles can't be eliminated, the solution would be to encourage responsible use in order to minimise their environmental impact," Mr Shaw said.

So, consider walking or other modes of transport if you're travelling less than 2km and choose a fuel-efficient model if you have to own a car, he suggested. Mr Shaw hopes Singaporeans will not use their cars at least one day during this year's Green Transport Week, which is backed by some 20 sponsors, including SMRT.

Financial consultant Melissa Wang, 28, will not use her car during the campaign. She will take a train to Orchard Road or the Central Business District to meet clients.

But property agent Freddie Teo, 48, said it would be too "troublesome" as he has to meet clients all over the island.

The Green Transport Week will be launched at the Singapore Management University with an exhibition of green cars and a rock concert. Those who pledge to go green on can win $1,000 and a Biomega bicycle.

Those who make their pledge on the SMRT website can win a year's free travel on its network.

Meanwhile, SBS Transit will hand out eco-bags at Dhoby Ghaut Station and Toa Payoh Interchange tomorrow from 8am to noon.

More about the event on the Green Transport Week website and wildsingapore happenings.