Car-Free Sundays to continue, with bigger role for community

Cyclists in front of the National Gallery Singapore on Car-Free Sunday SG on Feb 28 last year. Thousands of joggers, cyclists and families have participated in the initiative since it was first introduced last year.
Cyclists in front of the National Gallery Singapore on Car-Free Sunday SG on Feb 28 last year. Thousands of joggers, cyclists and families have participated in the initiative since it was first introduced last year.ST FILE PHOTO

The sight of pedestrians and cyclists taking over empty roads in the city will continue to be a familiar one on some Sundays next year.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said: "I am pleased to announce that Car-Free Sunday SG will continue in 2018!"

He said the participation of thousands in each edition so far has been encouraging.

As the initiative extends into next year, the community will play a more active role in helping Singapore move towards a car-lite society, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said in a press release yesterday.

Support from private groups in making use of car-free roads has grown stronger over time, with more community partners and sponsors coming forward to get involved in the initiative.

Said URA: "From Cycling Without Age and Yoga Seeds, who have been with the event from early days, to Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan conducting tours at the Thian Hock Keng temple, and more recent entrants such as the bike-sharing companies, the initiative has brought on board people from all walks of life to enjoy Car-Free Sunday SG and helped raise stronger awareness among the public of the benefits of a city with fewer cars."

Car-Free Sunday was first introduced in February last year and will next take place on Sunday. People of all ages can attend the National Arts Council's Got To Move Spotlight interactive dance carnival.

Car-Free Sunday, in areas such as the Civic District, the Central Business District and Telok Ayer, has drawn a wide range of participants, including joggers, cyclists, personal mobility device (PMD) users, families and heritage enthusiasts.

The idea of a car-lite country was spelt out in the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015, which shifted focus to a denser rail network, extensive bus routes, roving electric vehicles, driverless cars, vehicle-sharing services and more cycling and walking options.

In five to 10 years, the authorities hoped to see four times the number of people cycling or using PMDs to get around.

Dr Christie Napa Scollon, associate professor of psychology at Singapore Management University's School of Social Sciences, said the initiative of Car-Free Sundays boosted one's "well-being".

"First, it encourages physical activity which is excellent for physical and mental health. Also, Car-Free Sunday provides a space for people to have fun together and, really, happiness is all about being with others," said Dr Scollon, who is a regular participant.

"At a broader level, the initiative can also improve the health of the wider community by increasing civic engagement, reducing car emissions and encouraging long-term interest in physical activity."

More information on Car-Free Sunday SG can be found at http://ura.sg/carfreesundaysg and https://www.facebook.com/carfreesundaysg/.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2017, with the headline 'Car-Free Sundays to continue, with bigger role for community'. Print Edition | Subscribe