More road closures for street-parties if local communities step forward

The authorities are keen to close off more roads for community events like last weekend's Samsara Sunday Fair along Haji Lane, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Saturday in his latest blog post.

This after he read about the positive response to the event, which was organised by the Kampong Glam business community.

"They pushed for road closure at Haji Lane from 12am to 5pm, and took care of all the logistics, from the design of banners to crowd control measures," wrote Mr Khaw.

"Visitors had a great time, enjoying the many outdoor activities like hand painting and juggling performances," he said.

"They did not have to watch out for traffic. All had a car-free carefree weekend and what a change!"

Mr Khaw added that many big cities have made a conscious decision to be more pedestrian-friendly.

"In fact, one indicator of liveability is the extent the city dwellers embrace car-free zones. Successful examples of pedestrianisation abound: New York City's Times Square, London's Trafalgar Square, Tokyo's 'Pedestrian Haven' in Ginza come to mind," he said.

"We have some local successes... but it is not always easy to close roads as we must also account for the interests of motorists and other stakeholders in the neighbourhood. But we can take small incremental steps to test out the initiative and grow more converts."

Mr Khaw said the Samsara Sunday Fair has encouraged the authorities to plan pilot projects to close off roads on a more regular basis, possibly in the Club Street and Ann Siang Road area in Chinatown.

That area has seen an explosion of hip bars and restaurants, which have brought new life to the area especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

So vibrant is the weekend nightlife that patrons can be seen criss-crossing the streets as they hop from one bar to the next, or milling about - with drink in hand.

"If more local communities step forward, the reality of more car-free carefree weekends will materialise faster," said Mr Khaw.

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