Home Ground

How 'jaywalkers' lost the battle for road space to cars

Pedestrians once ruled road space. Then came motor cars, which took over. Today, the move towards sustainable mobility wants to reclaim some of that road space for public use.

In Singapore, where pedestrians have to cross the road at crossings within 50m, jaywalking is an offence. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
New: Gift this subscriber-only story to your friends and family

A hundred years ago, the roads and pavements outside buildings were seen as public spaces, where children played, vendors hawked their wares and neighbours got together. Horse-drawn carriages trundled down the roads, together with bicycles, push carts, and trams that ran on rails, hooked up to overhead cables.

Then came motor vehicles, which were faster and more powerful than the other vehicles of the time. Marketed as vehicles of freedom and robust enough to withstand America's rough streets, they were soon snapped up.

Already a subscriber? 

Read the full story and more at $9.90/month

Get exclusive reports and insights with more than 500 subscriber-only articles every month

Unlock these benefits

  • All subscriber-only content on ST app and straitstimes.com

  • Easy access any time via ST app on 1 mobile device

  • E-paper with 2-week archive so you won't miss out on content that matters to you

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.