More Car-Free Sundays from October

Cyclists enjoying a day out at the fifth edition of Car-Free Sunday yesterday. The six-month pilot, which sees roads around the Central Business District and Civic District being closed off to vehicles every last Sunday morning of the month, ends nex
Cyclists enjoying a day out at the fifth edition of Car-Free Sunday yesterday. The six-month pilot, which sees roads around the Central Business District and Civic District being closed off to vehicles every last Sunday morning of the month, ends next month. It will take a two-month break before resuming in October.ST PHOTOS: LAU FOOK KONG
Far left: Members of the public, both young and old, are invited to walk, cycle, jog or take part in activities in the vehicle-free zone on Car-Free Sundays. A few thousand people have taken part in the event each month. Left: People picnicking on Em
Above: People picnicking on Empress Lawn in front of Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall yesterday.ST PHOTOS: LAU FOOK KONG
Cyclists enjoying a day out at the fifth edition of Car-Free Sunday yesterday. The six-month pilot, which sees roads around the Central Business District and Civic District being closed off to vehicles every last Sunday morning of the month, ends nex
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong (right) enjoying a game of table tennis yesterday. He said Car-Free Sundays have been a ''tremendous success''ST PHOTOS: LAU FOOK KONG

Six-month pilot in city centre draws positive response and could move into HDB heartland

Car-Free Sundays in the heart of the city will be extended from October. And the initiative could even be expanded into the Housing Board heartland.

The six-month pilot, which sees roads around the Central Business District and Civic District being closed off to vehicles every last Sunday morning of the month, ends next month.

It will then take a two-month break for the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to review the scheme before resuming in October, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on the sidelines of the event yesterday.

"It has been a tremendous success," said Mr Wong of the pilot that started in February. "The response has been very positive," he said, with "a few thousand" people taking part each month.

The URA has not decided how long the extension from October will last.


Members of the public, both young and old, are invited to walk, cycle, jog or take part in activities in the vehicle-free zone on Car-Free Sundays. A few thousand people have taken part in the event each month. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

"We will do another round, perhaps six months or more," noted Mr Wong, adding that possible changes include varying routes and expanding the car-free zone for people to walk and cycle. "Hopefully, this becomes a permanent feature of the Civic District."

The Car-Free Sunday event is an important part of Singapore's car-lite vision, said Mr Wong.

"The vision is not just about using cars less but it is about making public spaces friendly and vibrant so that people can see that there is a benefit in having a car-free zone."

The idea can even be expanded to include the heartland, he added.

"If there are community groups or organisations that would like to take this idea and implement it in the HDB heartland, we would very much like to do so as well."

At the fifth edition of Car-Free Sunday yesterday, the URA invited people to cook and distribute free food to participants. It also invited volunteers from Play It Forward, a group which refurbishes old pianos and puts them in public places for the public to use. Several pianos were placed along the Singapore River.

Yesterday's event drew first-time participants like Mrs Chan Shi Kee, 27, and her three-year-old son, Yu Jun. "My son enjoys it. We will definitely come back in the future," said the bakery supervisor.

Cycling advocate Han Jok Kwang, who has attended four of the five Car-Free Sundays since February, welcomed the suggestion of introducing the event in the heartland.

"The scale can be smaller. It will allow more people to enjoy the activities," he said.

But Radin Mas grassroots leader Lee Yew Lee was worried about the logistics involved in organising Car-Free Sundays in the community, noting: "Perhaps it can be done at the constituency level so that there are more resources."

Yesterday, Mr Wong also gave an update on the review of public parking rates by the URA and HDB.

While reviewing carpark charges "can help the move towards a car-lite society", Mr Wong said the review was prompted by the fact that public parking charges have not been adjusted in 14 years, while the costs of operating public carparks have risen.

He would not be drawn into commenting on the extent of the hike, but added that the URA and HDB "should be ready to finalise the details very soon". "We will make sure that there is an adequate transition time," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2016, with the headline 'More Car-Free Sundays from October'. Print Edition | Subscribe