Make Orchard Road car-free on weekends for a start

I applaud the Singapore Tourism Board's plan to turn Orchard Road into a car-free, fully-pedestrianised stretch for the purpose of rejuvenating the declining local retail landscape (Orchard takes pedestrian route to recapture traffic; April 14).

We should proceed with this grand idea incrementally.

For a start, the road should be closed to vehicular traffic only on weekends and public holidays.

Unlike other countries which Singapore wishes to emulate, we have a much smaller land mass.

Therefore, keeping every road accessible, especially the major ones, makes good economic sense.

The five-lane Orchard Road is a major arterial road and busy thoroughfare. It is imperative that it is kept open to traffic on weekdays.

This would facilitate public transport such as buses and taxis, and enable workers who do not commute by train to get to their workplaces and elsewhere.

Singaporeans typically work long hours and have little time for anything else on weekdays.

It is only on weekends that we are in the mood to indulge in shopping activities.

Hence, closing the roads on weekdays may have minimum benefits.

We must also keep Singapore's tropical climate in mind.

Other than closing the roads, the authorities should consider installing powerful misting fans on the lamp posts lining both sides of Orchard Road, otherwise the place would be too humid for shoppers to want to stay for long.

These fans could help lower the temperature along that stretch.

This would dramatically enhance the outdoor shopping experience for both tourists and locals.

Joe Teo Kok Seah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2017, with the headline 'Make Orchard Road car-free on weekends for a start'. Print Edition | Subscribe