SINGAPORE - From next month, a stretch of road next to Kampung Admiralty will be temporarily closed off to cars and other private vehicles as part of a trial to repurpose road lanes as footpaths, pedestrianised streets or cycling paths.
Water-filled barriers will placed along a stretch of Woodlands Ring Road, located between Woodlands Drive 63 and Drive 71, closing off the westbound lane to traffic, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Thursday (Jan 21).
The eastbound lane of the road will be converted to a bus-only road that only public buses and emergency vehicles can access.
The partial pedestrianisation of Woodlands Ring Road comes after the Transport Ministry set out plans in August last year to re-imagine Singapore's road infrastructure, by converting certain under-used road lanes into cycling and bus lanes, as well as pedestrianising certain roads.
It is part of Singapore's ongoing push to go car-lite, and promote walking and cycling. Other car-lite projects include the pedestrianisation of Bencoolen Street in the city. In 2019, about 60m of Fusionopolis Way road in one-north business park was converted into a pedestrianised street on a trial basis.
The LTA said the trial in Woodlands will give residents and students from nearby schools, including Minds Woodlands Gardens School, Woodlands Ring Primary and Secondary Schools as well as Spectra Secondary School, more space to walk and cycle.
"This will also make access to Kampung Admiralty, Admiralty MRT station and other amenities more convenient for pedestrians," it added.
The LTA said it will engage the community to seek feedback and suggestions on the project, and the temporary modifications to the road layout will only be made permanent if the public supports the move.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said there is rising pedestrian footfall around the Kampung Admiralty area, which has become a very popular community destination for Woodlands and Sembawang residents.
The conversion of part of Woodlands Ring Road to a footpath will make it safer and more convenient for public transport commuters and pedestrians, he said, adding that more of such projects are in the pipeline.
The LTA said it has been has been exploring potential locations for road repurposing and will continue to study other suitable areas.
Mr Ong said: "We have the opportunity to make Singapore a greener, car-lite city through a careful and sensible balance of trade-offs."
Sembawang GRC MP Mariam Jaafar, who looks after the Woodlands ward, said the move could open up possibilities for al fresco dining and community activities,such as street parties, performances, or even a farmer's market.
"Think of places like La Rambla in Barcelona, Third Street Promenade in Los Angeles, Qianmen Street in Beijing, Cat Street in Tokyo," she wrote on Facebook.
She said the trial starting in February will last six months, and urged residents to give feedback using quick response (QR) codes that will be on banners and signs. She added that she has asked the LTA to conduct focus groups with residents.
Residents who spoke to the Straits Times said they welcomed the move and hoped it would make the area, which is often filled with cyclists and food delivery riders, safer.
But others wondered if the changes were necessary given they would likely cause confusion and inconvenience to motorists.
Ms Candy Wong, 38, who cycles home daily, said: "It might be troublesome for drivers, but pedestrians will feel safer. Riders too."
Project engineer Zul Fadhli, 30, said the proposed changes could lead to slower journeys and more hazards for motorists.
An LTA spokesman said the stretch being repurposed has low to moderate traffic volume so pedestrianising it would not adversely affect motorists too much.
The authority will monitor and review the impact on traffic during the trial.
But resident Sakun Mahalingam, 35, said there can be a lot of traffic in the mornings and evenings.
"There will definitely be more jams as drivers get used to the new roads," she said. "But it is a good idea. We have a lot of elderly people and young parents with kids here."