SINGAPORE: About 60 projects across Singapore have been identified for roads to be possibly converted into footpaths, cycling paths and bus lanes, as part of efforts to make these modes of transport more convenient.
Announcing this in Parliament on Friday (Mar 5), Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor said engagement for five of these projects have already started, adding that the authorities will seek the views of residents, town councils and businesses to identify potential enhancements.
“These views will shape key project details, such as the length of the stretch being repurposed, or when permanent infrastructure enhancement works will commence or even if the project should proceed at all,” said Dr Khor.
These efforts will begin with projects to enhance walkability in areas such as the Civic District.
“Over the years, we have worked with arts and civic groups and premises owners to realise their aspirations for greater walkability within the Civic District,” she said.
“We have pedestrianised one side of Anderson Bridge and part of St Andrew’s Road, and restricted vehicle access to stretches of Parliament Place, Old Parliament Lane and Connaught Drive. With this, pedestrians can walk seamlessly from the Old Parliament House to Esplanade Park."
Many have called for a more extensive pedestrianisation of the Civic District, Dr Khor noted.
“Mr Mok Wei Wei, the architect for the upgrading of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, suggested fully pedestrianising Anderson Bridge as a gateway to the district,” she said, adding that this would offer “unblocked and panoramic views" of the district’s architecture.
This suggestion - as well as others from visitors, arts and civic groups and property owners - is being considered as part of efforts to make the district more pedestrian-friendly, she said.
“Looking beyond the Civic District, we will also work with the community to gradually reshape the streetscape in areas such as Sembawang, Bishan-Toa Payoh, Tanjong Pagar and Jalan Besar,” said Dr Khor.
These efforts will begin with a stretch of Havelock Road, where residents and grassroots volunteers have asked that the area be made more walkable, she noted.
“We are studying widening the footpath by paving over some roadside parking lots, thereby creating a more pleasant walking experience for pedestrians,” she said.
This will be done with the temporary use of water-filled barriers for several months - with community feedback gathered for further refinements - before the footpath is permanently widened, said Dr Khor.
In a media release, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said that the affected area lies between 715 and 745 Havelock Road, where the existing walkway along the shophouses is narrow and unable to accommodate pedestrian traffic.
“Under Phase 1, which will commence from March 2021, LTA will modify the road layout, such as by removing the roadside parking lots, to create more space for walking in front of the shophouses,” it said.
Motorists will be able to use nearby car parks at Blocks 51, 44A and 28A, while delivery drivers can park at the alternative loading and unloading bays at Beo Crescent Market as well as at Blocks 50 and 53.
“LTA will engage the community to gather more feedback and suggestions during Phase 1 to ensure that these enhancements will best suit their needs. Permanent infrastructural changes will be made in Phase 2 if the community is supportive,” said the agency.
“Aside from walkability, we will also start to convert stretches of roads into cycling paths, beginning in locations such as Ang Mo Kio Street 22, to expand our network of cycling paths,” said Dr Khor.
She noted that Singapore is pressing ahead with plans to expand cycling paths from 460km to 1,300km by 2030.
“By the end of this year, we will have added 28km of cycling paths, in Bukit Panjang, Sembawang, Taman Jurong and Yishun, as well mature estates such as Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Tampines, Taman Jurong and Toa Payoh,” she said, adding that construction will be prioritised for towns without cycling paths.
Dr Khor noted that since the ban on the use of personal mobility devices (PMDs) on footpaths, safety has “improved considerably”, with accidents involving motorised PMDs on such paths falling to 30 cases between 2019 and 2020, a 79 per cent drop.
“To further enhance safety, we will be rolling out a new import controls regime for personal mobility devices and power-assisted bicycles in the first half of 2021,” she said.
“This is an important measure to prevent the import of non-compliant devices. Meanwhile, we will continue with regular inspections of AM (active mobility) devices to deter illegal modifications,” she added.
"We will step up our efforts to transform our land transport system to become more inclusive and sustainable. We will also partner the community to build a landscape of roads and paths that meets Singaporeans’ aspirations for a more liveable and sustainable home."