Rethink pedestrian bridges in Singapore's car-lite push

Ten ideas were brought up in the study titled, Creating Liveable Cities Through Car-Lite Urban Mobility, by the Centre for Liveable Cities and the Urban Land Institute.

One idea of note is this: Turning street design on its head, that is, fine-tuning road categorisation and street design in favour of pedestrians, cyclists and public- transit users wherever possible.

We can work on this idea:

  • Create more bus lanes (start converting some lanes into cycling lanes if possible), and
  • Build more pedestrian crossings at street level, instead of overhead bridges.

Bridges are costly, especially those with long ramps. Even with ramps, they are not exactly easy to use for cyclists, and much less so for the less mobile.

For the latter group, bridges without ramps necessitate lifts and their associated maintenance.

Lifts are costly. According to the Land Transport Authority (LTA), the cost to provide lifts for 40 pedestrian overhead bridges is estimated at $60 million. Based on this, the cost to fit out just some overhead bridges with lifts will be huge, given that there were about 450 of such bridges managed by the LTA last year.

Maintenance manpower is another concern. The lift industry has recently been subjected to more stringent requirements, and its players are already lamenting the manpower crunch ("BCA moves to tighten lift maintenance, boost safety"; June 17). This added dimension will exacerbate the problem.

Bridges make driving easy at the expense of pedestrians, cyclists and the less mobile. It is high time we adopted a progressive approach on road-crossing planning.

Seow Joo Heng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2016, with the headline 'Rethink pedestrian bridges in Singapore's car-lite push'. Print Edition | Subscribe