Businesses hail CBD car-free Sundays

The National Gallery Singapore in the Civic District hopes the initiative will encourage more people to visit and explore the area.
The National Gallery Singapore in the Civic District hopes the initiative will encourage more people to visit and explore the area.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

They are looking forward to a more lively vibe to perk up Central Business, Civic districts

Establishments in the Central Business and Civic districts said they welcome plans for "Car-Free Sunday" in the area and look forward to more vibrancy there.

The six-month trial by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is slated to start late next month and take place every last Sunday of the month. A proposed 4.7km route will be closed and reserved for cyclists, joggers and pedestrians.

Mr Giovanni Viterale, general manager of The Fullerton Heritage, said the initiative will create a higher level of vibrancy in the precinct.

The Fullerton Heritage includes The Fullerton Hotel, The Fullerton Bay Hotel, Clifford Pier and Customs House, which are in or near Fullerton Road.

Mr Viterale said: "We are certain that the public will appreciate the opportunity to experience the precinct and its key attractions in a different manner, whether on foot or on a bicycle."

As part of Car-Free Sunday, there will be full road closures around the Padang and partial closures along Fullerton Road, Shenton Way and Robinson Road from 7am to 9am. Parts of Connaught Drive and St Andrew's Road will remain closed until noon .

This will allow people to walk around "activity zones" planned around the Padang, said the URA in tender documents published last month. It is looking to appoint an events management company to run the car-free programme.

The partial closures of Shenton Way and Robinson and Fullerton roads will be on the right-hand side of the roads, away from the bus stop, to minimise disruption to bus services.

Ms Chong Siak Ching, chief executive officer of the National Gallery Singapore, said it had been consulted in the planning process. She said the initiative will encourage more visitors to go to the Gallery in St Andrew's Road and explore the area, while allowing amenities in the Civic District to work together to extend activities to the public.

Some shops are waiting for details of the initiative to be finalised to see if it will affect business.

"Sunday usually has a smaller customer crowd, but more drivers," said Ms Jacqueline Lim, assistant director of Renaissance Properties, which manages Lau Pa Sat Festival Market in Raffles Quay. She hopes roadside parking will be considered in the final plans, and expressed support for the initiative.

There are 11 car-free zones in Singapore. Many have been successful, including Circular Road, which is closed from 6pm to 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.

"There was a footfall increase of 15 per cent during the road closure period in 2014, compared to 2013," said Ms Anitha Immanuel, place manager of Singapore River One, which represents the interests of all stakeholders in the Singapore River precinct, including Circular Road.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 01, 2016, with the headline 'Businesses hail CBD car-free Sundays'. Print Edition | Subscribe