URA calls for study to make Kallang connector a seamless cycling route to town

The URA is studying how to make the park connector along the Kallang River a seamless connection for cyclists.
The URA is studying how to make the park connector along the Kallang River a seamless connection for cyclists. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Riding a bicycle from the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park to Gardens by the Bay and then the Central Business District (CBD) - without dismounting - could be a reality in future.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) wants to make the 10km-long Kallang Park Connector, which starts in Bishan and runs along the Kallang River, a seamless cycyling route.

On Tuesday it called for consultants to come forward to find ways around seven obstacles that now prevent a seamless ride.

These include pedestrian crossings, an underpass with low head-room and overhead pedestrian bridges. If completed, it could take a cyclist about 30 to 45 minutes to ride from Bishan to the heart of the city, compared to about an hour to 11/2 hours now.

In a statement, the URA said it would shortlist the consultants by October and select a team to conduct the study by the second quarter of next year. The study will take a year to complete.

URA executive planner Joycelyn Yik said this could be the birth of Singapore's first seamless cycling route into the heart of the city - which would pass through 11 housing estates and serve 400,000 people.

But there are challenging technical constrains. "Given that the Kallang Park Connector and Kallang River runs through very built up areas, there's really not much land for us to play with around here," said Ms Yik.

Elevated cycling-friendly bridges with gentle ramps, or underpasses, could be possible solutions to the obstacles said Ms Yik.

Both the URA and the National Parks Board said they would first study the route before turning their attention to other park connectors in the future.

NParks assistant director of park planning Henry Hee said the biggest obstacle along the Kallang connector was the overhead bridge over the PIE, near the Saint Andrew's Junior School.

Indeed, when The Straits Times followed the route two weeks ago, this was the most disruptive - cyclists had to carry their bikes up and down eight flights of stairs to get to the other side.

Associate Professor Wong Yiik Diew, director of the Centre for Infrastructure Systems at Nanyang Technological University, said the initiative would set up an important "trunk route" for commuting cyclists.

Dr Alexander Erath, a transport researcher at the Singapore-ETH Future Cities Laboratory, noted that it would also be important to see how individual towns can be best connected to the upgraded Kallang route.

"Intra and inter-town cycling depend upon each other. Only if people consider the entire trip to be safe and convenient for cycling, will they start considering it as a relevant travel option," he said.