Thousands hit the road as Car-Free Sunday returns

A cyclist and his bamboo-inspired bicycle joining other cycling enthusiasts at the flag-off yesterday for Car-Free Sunday, in front of the National Gallery Singapore. It was the first Car-Free Sunday after a three-month hiatus. The programme now cove
A cyclist and his bamboo-inspired bicycle joining other cycling enthusiasts at the flag-off yesterday for Car-Free Sunday, in front of the National Gallery Singapore. It was the first Car-Free Sunday after a three-month hiatus. The programme now covers 5.5km of roads, up from 4.7km previously, and has extended into the Telok Ayer conservation area.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Three-year-old Audrey Lim was so excited about cycling on the city's roads that she dreamt about it all week.

When Car-Free Sunday finally returned yesterday after its first run ended in July, her family of four took their bicycles to the National Gallery Singapore to cycle on the event's 5.5km route.

The Lim family was glad to see Car-Free Sunday SG's three-month hiatus come to an end.

"Audrey was really looking forward to it; the last time we could (participate) was in July. She played the drums and made a silkscreen bag," said her father Maya Lim, 44, a bank executive, referring to activities held during the event.

The programme, which was piloted on one Sunday a month from February to July, has now been expanded from the Central Business District and Civic District areas into the Telok Ayer conservation area. It now covers 5.5km of roads from 4.7km previously, with McCallum, Amoy, Boon Tat, Telok Ayer and Stanley streets now shut to traffic.

The five-lane Robinson Road and four-lane Cecil Street were also fully closed to create more cycling and jogging lanes. Thousands took advantage of the road closures to cycle, skate or run on the expansive thoroughfares.

The elderly were not left out, riding a "bike train" created by 54-year-old engineer Lee Tang Teng, who took apart bicycles donated from neighbours, then linked them into a train of seven trishaws.

"I actually created this nine years ago to ferry my children to school," he said.

More than 50 people also enjoyed free guided tours of the 176-year-old Thian Hock Keng Temple in Telok Ayer Street.

Twenty people took part in a walking trail along Ann Siang Hill and Telok Ayer Green to look at the ways of life of Singapore's early immigrants.

A few cafes along Telok Ayer Street also opened their doors earlier to cater to participants.

Staff at My Awesome Cafe, for example, started work at 7am yesterday to prepare for the Car-Free Sunday crowd. Owner Franck Hardy, 46, even offered a special breakfast menu just for Car-Free Sunday.

He said: "If I have to open one to two hours earlier to make Car-Free Sunday more successful, I will."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2016, with the headline 'Thousands hit the road as Car-Free Sunday returns'. Print Edition | Subscribe