Stop turning soft running tracks into concrete ones

I run regularly along the Punggol Promenade Riverside Walk, Lorong Halus Wetland area and the recently opened Coney Island area.

The jogging track along the riverside was paved with wood, while the track along Lorong Holus Wetland was made of red sand. They were a heaven for runners.

To my shock, all those runner-friendly tracks havebeen changed to hard concrete tracks.

It is quite appalling that even wooden benches have been replaced by concrete ones.

What has come upon the National Parks Board (NParks)? Why does every pathway need to be turned into concrete ones?

Understandably, concrete tracks need less maintenance compared with others. But does that mean every track should be hard and runner-unfriendly?

On one hand, schemes like ActiveSG are encouraging people to be more active and lead a healthy lifestyle.

On the other hand, they also have to face such disappointments. Ask anybody who loves running and they will say how harmful it is to run on concrete tracks compared with softer tracks made of wood, red sand tracks or grass turf.

Did NParks look for other alternatives at all?

The wooden tracks along the riverside were intact for at least five years.

Of course there was some natural wear and tear. But, instead of looking for other ways to strengthen them and extend their life, NParks seems to have taken the expedient route of removing them and replacing themwithconcrete.

There are a number of options to chemically treat the wood and make them more resistant to wear and tear. The red sand tracks need regular rolling, perhaps every quarter, depending on the usage.

Are these options too difficult or expensive to implement?

I am afraid it will be just a matter of time before the tracks on Coney Island will also be turned into concrete ones.

It would be great if NParks could maintain the few available soft tracks as they are.

Ramamurthy Mahesh Kumar

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2018, with the headline 'Stop turning soft running tracks into concrete ones'. Print Edition | Subscribe