Letter of the day

Time-based use of public amenities will benefit many people

I was inspired by the article in the Straits Times Opinion page by Associate Professor Sara Hendren, "Use time as an urban design tool to reimagine our cities" (July 20).

The writer outlined how time can be used to create temporary parks or leisure spaces in cities and urban environments.

She refers to Riverbend Park in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as an example.

It is not an actual park but a high traffic road alongside Charles River that is closed during weekends for cyclists, skaters, strollers and people who just want to have a picnic by the riverside grass verge.

This concept is not new here. Singapore piloted the temporary pedestrianisation of Orchard Road on the first Saturday evening of every month some years back.

There's also Car-Free Sunday in the Civic District area.

But these efforts have sputtered somewhat.

A more successful case of time-based use is public access of government school sports facilities during weekends to play badminton or football.

There was admirable planning put into creating separate access for the public to these school facilities, for obvious security reasons.

Judging by how difficult it has been to reserve a badminton court in these school facilities, this scheme has been a quiet but resolute success.

But we could do more.

How about placing temporary traffic cones on Bukit Timah Road during the weekends so that cyclists can have a dedicated road lane to access other park connectors and the Rail Corridor? The same, too, for Upper Thomson Road. And perhaps apply it to other leafy major arterial roads that have at least three lanes.

It's a win-win-win situation - cyclists will have a safe road lane, pedestrians have exclusive use of the sidewalks, and motorists still have two or three dedicated lanes during thinner weekend traffic.

And during the week, we revert to normal use of the roads.

Abdul Malek Mohamed Ali

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2021, with the headline 'Time-based use of public amenities will benefit many people'. Subscribe