Pedestrians, cyclists to get 2 lanes on part of Bencoolen Street

An artist's impression of Bencoolen Street, which will have a tree-lined footpath and a dedicated cycling lane on a 450m stretch between Middle Road and Bras Basah Road.
An artist's impression of Bencoolen Street, which will have a tree-lined footpath and a dedicated cycling lane on a 450m stretch between Middle Road and Bras Basah Road.PHOTO: LTA

Two car lanes on a stretch of Bencoolen Street will be converted into a pedestrian path and a cycling lane - the first time Singapore's road planners are handing over real estate on a major road to walkers and cyclists.

The redevelopment, expected to be completed next year, is one of two projects revealed yesterday in the nation's drive for a "car-lite" society, and to encourage more commuters to walk, cycle and take public transport.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan announced the revamp of the 450m section of Bencoolen Street - between Middle Road and Bras Basah Road - in an addendum to last week's President's address in Parliament.

This stretch of Bencoolen Street has been closed since October 2011 for the construction of the Downtown Line 3's Bencoolen station.

While two out of the four original road lanes will continue to be used by vehicular traffic, two others will be converted into "wide footpaths lined with trees and benches for pedestrians", the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said.

Bicycle parking facilities will be provided in the area and a dedicated cycling path will connect Rochor Canal and Bukit Timah to the Central Business District, the LTA added. A dedicated bus lane will also feature in the revamp.

Cyclists said that having a biking path along Bencoolen Street would greatly increase connectivity to other parts of Singapore.

Mr Han Jok Kwang, a member of the National Cycling Plan Steering Committee, said cyclists can go from Bencoolen Street to Rochor Canal, and then ride along the canal to Kallang River.

They could even push further north into the Geylang area.

"It's a great connection if you are commuting the distance," he said.

Additionally, Mr Han said cutting down the number of vehicular lanes on the street from four to two will have a "traffic calming" effect - meaning cars will have to slow down. This will increase safety for cyclists and pedestrians in the area, he noted.

A spokesman for the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, which is located in Bencoolen Street, said that "widening the footpaths, including a cycling path and benches would improve the general environment" around its campuses.

Besides Bencoolen Street, the Government has pedestrianised roads in the civic district to create a walkable park.

The Sentosa Development Corporation is also building on-road cycling lanes on the tourist island.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2016, with the headline 'Pedestrians, cyclists to get 2 lanes on part of Bencoolen Street'. Print Edition | Subscribe