Green connections that matter

Singaporeans can take pride that the Park Connector Network has evolved from a 5km stretch in 1992 to a 300km network linking parks, nature sites and housing estates. In the process, the PCN has opened up ecological and social vistas. Those horizons would not have been discovered had the island remained largely a piece of economic territory on which most people lived in well-ordered high-rise flats, commuted mechanically to work or school on motorised transport, and just dreamt of open spaces and clean air elsewhere.

The PCN has helped to create a sense of space even within tiny Singapore, giving people the opportunity to explore the city-state's natural habitat in a way that deepens their relationship with the lived environment. Gratifyingly, the retired architects of the scheme were honoured at the launch of the Central Urban Loop which extends the geographical reach of existing loops. For the pioneers, there is no greater reward than to see their PCN vision being enlarged, perhaps beyond imagining earlier, to a stretch of 360km by 2020.

Like rules on the road or on the pavement, the PCN has its own etiquette. Joggers, cyclists, or those on in-line skates should give due consideration to slower-moving pedestrians. By the same token, those minding park users on tricycles or in wheelchairs should not obstruct channels and junctions. And pet owners should respect the safety and sensibilities of others, and clean up after their pets. To expect, say, separate pathways or a legion of park wardens to keep the peace would diminish the look and feel of green spaces. Users will enjoy the great sense of freedom offered by parks when they exercise great responsibility towards fellow-users and nature as well.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 27, 2015, with the headline 'Green connections that matter'. Print Edition | Subscribe