Budget debate: 60 sites identified for roads to be converted for pedestrians, cyclists, including Civic District

By the end of the year, 28km of cycling paths will be added to some estates.
By the end of the year, 28km of cycling paths will be added to some estates.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - About 60 sites where roads could be converted into footpaths, cycling paths or bus lanes have been identified, and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has started engaging the community on five of them, Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor said on Friday (March 5).

The LTA will start paving over roadside parking spots along a stretch of Havelock Road this month, in a trial to widen the footpath there.

This follows an ongoing trial to pedestrianise a stretch of road next to Kampung Admiralty.

Beyond this, the LTA will also look to improve walkability in the Civic District, including potentially closing off Anderson Bridge to traffic, Dr Khor said during the debate on her ministry's budget.

The streetscape in areas such as Sembawang, Bishan-Toa Payoh, Tanjong Pagar and Jalan Besar will also be gradually reshaped, she added in response to suggestions by Ms Yeo Wan Ling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) and Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) on improving infrastructure for both pedestrians and cyclists here.

Before commencing on these projects, the LTA will seek views from residents, grassroots volunteers, town councils and local businesses to identify potential enhancements, Dr Khor said.

These views will shape key project details, such as the length of the stretch of road being repurposed, when permanent infrastructure enhancement works will start, or if the project should proceed at all in the first place.

Responding to Nominated MP Cheng Hsing Yao, who had asked about LTA's plans to make areas of historical significance in Singapore more walkable, Dr Khor said many Singaporeans have expressed a desire for more extensive pedestrianisation of the Civic District, and the LTA can do more.

The pedestrianisation of one side of Anderson Bridge and part of St Andrew's Road, as well as restriction of vehicle access to stretches of Parliament Place, Old Parliament Lane and Connaught Drive, have allowed pedestrians to walk seamlessly from the Old Parliament House to Esplanade Park, she noted.

A suggestion by veteran Singapore architect Mok Wei Wei to fully pedestrianise Anderson Bridge would offer unblocked and panoramic views of the Civic District's architecture, Dr Khor added.

"We will consider his suggestion alongside others from visitors, arts and civic groups, and premise owners."

On the road repurposing project at Havelock Road, Dr Khor said residents, grassroots volunteers and local business owners in the mature estate had asked for wider footpaths to make the area more walkable.

The LTA said the existing walkway in front of shophouses along the stretch of road between 715 and 745 Havelock Road is narrow and cannot accommodate pedestrian traffic at times, especially during peak hours.

The stretch of road will be repurposed in phases, it added.

Roadside parking spaces will be removed and water-filled barriers will be placed there to temporarily modify the road layout for several months.

The LTA will make the changes permanent only if the community is supportive.

Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said commuters are increasingly walking or cycling for shorter trips, and this is the impetus for expanding the cycling network and repurposing roads.

On the 60 projects identified by the LTA, Mr Ong said the authorities will work closely with the community and proceed only when the project has been assessed to be beneficial.

Some stretches of road will also be converted into cycling paths, starting with Ang Mo Kio Street 22, Dr Khor said. This is part of plans to triple the cycling path network here from 460km to 1,300km by 2030.

By the end of the year, 28km of cycling paths will be added to estates such as Bukit Panjang, Sembawang, Yishun, Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Tampines and Toa Payoh. Towns that do not have cycling paths will be prioritised, she added.

The Straits Times reported last month that the LTA is studying whether stretches of more than 20 roads in the north-east and east of Singapore can be reclaimed for cycling paths.

According to the revenue and expenditure estimates for the financial year 2021, the Transport Ministry is expected to spend about $36.3 million on cycling path projects and about $15.6 million on other active mobility projects.