SINGAPORE - Carparks and roads currently make up more than 10 per cent of Singapore's land area, but if Singaporeans reduce their reliance on cars as a mode of transport, half of this land can be taken back to serve other commuters, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said on Saturday (Nov 24).
"For instance, we can make pedestrian paths wider, or construct dedicated lanes for cyclists," said Mr Khaw, sketching out possibilities for Singapore's land transport system.
He was speaking at a focus group discussion organised by Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao at the Singapore Press Holdings' News Centre, attended by about 50 readers who broke up into groups to discuss their ideas.
The session focused on how walking, cycling and riding can be made the preferred ways to travel, which is one of the three broad themes laid out in the Land Transport Authority's (LTA) Land Transport Master Plan 2040 which was released in September.
The other themes touch on how these modes of travel can make commuting easier and more inclusive, as well as how the land transport system can improve the quality of life.
A 15-member advisory panel on the Master Plan, chaired by Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Transport, will consider public views, deliberate on the various issues, and give its recommendations early next year.
The LTA hopes to get the public's input as users of the transport system are the ones who will be the most directly affected by these plans, said Mr Khaw.
Mr Khaw also acknowledged that there is room for improvement in Singapore's transport system when it comes to reducing the reliance on cars.
"For instance, in cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam, traffic signals prioritise the flow of bicycles over cars at intersections. We seem to give more priority to cars more here, and both sides need to come to a compromise if we aim to strike a balance on these issues in the future."
At the session, participants raised a number of suggestions, from providing covered walkways in private estates to using apps that can help commuters predict the waiting time of buses and better plan their routes.
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng said that he was heartened by the diversity of views offered at the session.
"We will continue to look at how technology can be harnessed to improve the public transport system, and encourage more to come forward with their views," said Mr Baey.
Mr Daniel Tay, 49, a user of electric car-sharing service BlueSG, suggested users of personal mobility devices wear a registration number on their helmets.
If an incident occurs, a member of the public who was witnessed it can then log on to an app or website to report it. "I hope the suggestions and feedback that have been raised at this session can go into a white paper to be submitted to the authorities, so that it can lead to more concrete outcomes," said Mr Tay, who works in finance.
The LTA will hold other focus group discussions up to January. People can share their views by taking part in electronic polls and using a response form in the public consultation document until Dec 31.