A garden city's green veins

North Eastern Riverine Loop, which links four parks along its path, has much scenery to offer

Land-scarce Singapore is one of the few countries in the world to have more than 300km of cycling and jogging paths.

Originally built for recreational purposes, the Park Connector Network (PCN) was conceptualised by Japanese landscape architect Junichi Inada in 1987 when he was working with the National Parks Board (NParks), then known as the Parks and Recreation Department.

When the 10km-long Kallang Park Connector, the first sector to be completed, opened in 1992, Bishan residents began using a 5km stretch linking Bishan Park to Braddell Road as a shortcut to a bus stop along Braddell Road.

This indicated that people were using the PCN for practical purposes, and not just for recreation. This led the Urban Redevelopment Authority to see if the connector, which links major parks around the island, could become a seamless commuting route for cyclists into the city.

Today, this idea has become reality, as many from all over Singapore use it to commute to work. The interlinking network has grown to 330km in 27 years, with plans to expand it to 700km by 2030.

It is possible to make an islandwide round trip along the PCN, but there are stretches that are not yet seamless. The Land Transport Authority and NParks are making it more accessible for cyclists and integrating park connectors with existing facilities such as playgrounds and exercise areas.

But many also flock to the network for its original recreation purpose, and go there to walk, jog, cycle and enjoy the scenery.

One of the prettiest parts of the PCN is the North Eastern Riverine Loop, which connects four parks in Buangkok, Sengkang and Punggol along its 26km path. NParks, which maintains parks and the PCN, refers to the loop as "indisputably one of Singapore's most scenic park connectors".

This stretch runs along Sungei Serangoon through Punggol Promenade Riverside Walk, round Punggol Promenade and Punggol Point, and Sungei Punggol.

An impressive feature of the riverine loop is the 4.2km Punggol Waterway, the longest man-made waterway here. It meanders through Punggol town, bringing waterfront living and nature right to the doorsteps of the thousands of Housing Board and condominium residents lucky enough to be living there.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2017, with the headline 'A garden city's green veins'. Print Edition | Subscribe