Parts of Civic District and CBD to go car-free on Sunday mornings next year

A view of the Singapore skyline and the Padang. ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

SINGAPORE - The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is planning to launch "car-free Sunday" in parts of the Civic and Central Business Districts starting from Feb 28 next year.

Under a six-month pilot programme, URA has identified several roads that will close from 7am to 9am on the last Sunday of each month.

The roads (highlighted in red and yellow) earmarked for closure during "car-free Sunday". ST GRAPHICS

The affected roads, which include the entire area around the Padang and partial sections of Fullerton Road, Shenton Way and Robinson Road, will form a 4.7km-long cycling and walking route, according to a public tender put up by the URA.

Parts of Connaught Drive and St Andrew's Road around the Padang will remain closed till noon.

The roads highlighted in red will remain closed till noon. ST GRAPHICS

Community and mass exercise activities will be organised at Esplanade Park and Empress Lawn with the help of National Parks Board, Health Promotion Board and SportSG during "car-free Sunday".

URA is inviting local and international event management companies to bid to run the event. The tender will close on Jan 11, 2016.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, a URA spokesman said the initiative is a step towards a car-lite Singapore and aims to "promote active lifestyles and enhance liveability in the city".

"It is a way to reclaim the roads for cycling, jogging and walking, and make the city a more people-friendly and enjoyable place," the spokesman added.

"The roads in the Civic District and CBD are chosen because there are many points of interest along the way such as historic landmarks, and these roads are under-utilised on Sunday mornings."

The concept of a car-lite Singapore was also mentioned by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong when he opened the new Downtown Line 2 on Saturday (Dec 26).

There are currently 10 car-free zones designated by URA which come into effect on certain days and at specific timings.

For instance, a section of Orchard Road is closed on the first Saturday of every month - between 6pm and 11pm - for Pedestrian Night.

Club Street and Ann Siang Road are closed to vehicle traffic on Fridays and Saturdays from 7pm to 2am.

Parts of the Kampong Glam area, such as Haji Lane and Bussorah Street, are turned into pedestrian-only roads every Friday (6pm-midnight) and on weekends (noon-midnight).

Liang Seah Street in Bugis was the latest zone to go car-free (Fridays to Sundays, 7pm-midnight) in a three-month pilot that began on Dec 4, while an 11th - nearby Baghdad Street - will follow suit from Jan 1.

URA said the time was ripe for a car-free initiative in the Padang area due to the completion of the first phase of enhancement works in the Civic District, which aimed to create a greener, safer and more walkable park setting.

The enhancement works included pedestrianising roads to connect spaces around the Padang, as well as linking up landmarks such as the Asian Civilisations Museum, Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, National Gallery Singapore and Esplanade Park to form an integrated arts, culture and lifestyle precinct.

URA will review its "car-free Sunday" initiative after the six-month pilot to decide if roads in certain areas can be closed on a regular basis on weekends to allow for sports and community activities.

Said the URA spokesman: "At this stage, we are not thinking of permanent road closure."

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