Active lifestyles begin with a well-designed city

Flowering shrubs and shade trees line the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade. The writer says well-designed walkways create a better walking experience, which will encourage people to increase their physical activities.
Flowering shrubs and shade trees line the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade. The writer says well-designed walkways create a better walking experience, which will encourage people to increase their physical activities.ST FILE PHOTO

Education and health screenings make up a large part of public health policy (Beating diabetes starts with small steps: PM Lee; Aug 21).

But there is one factor which has an impact on our health, but has been overlooked - how our cities are designed.

When cities are built with motorists in mind, the lifestyle of the population tends to be more sedentary.

Cities should be designed to make people lead a more active lifestyle.

Well-designed walkways and towns create a better walking experience, which will encourage people to increase their physical activities , thereby fighting diabetes.

However, in Singapore, the design of walkways seems to be an afterthought.

Wider walkways that are decorated with plants and artwork can make the walking experience more pleasing. Benches along walkways can provide places for the elderly to rest during walks.


Flowering shrubs and shade trees line the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade. The writer says well-designed walkways create a better walking experience, which will encourage people to increase their physical activities. ST FILE PHOTO

Since traffic junctions are a safety hazard for pedestrians, more elevated walkways can be constructed in places with high pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

Towns should be designed to make it easy to travel from one town to another .

Having fewer roads means more space can be used for landscaping. Some commercial hubs can even be made for pedestrians only.

Cycling is also a good way to increase physical activity. However, it is still a common sight for cyclists to jostle with pedestrians or to face road blocks or overhead bridges, preventing them from making cross-country journeys.

The number of bicycles also tends to outnumber the number of bicycle stands in HDB void decks.

A good cycling infrastructure is necessary to motivate people to cycle. The Government has undertaken some steps, but more can be done.

Anderson Tong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2017, with the headline 'Active lifestyles begin with a well-designed city'. Print Edition | Subscribe