Pedestrian-friendly towns and a 'car-lite' city among plans for Singapore


SINGAPORE - A reduction in car usage, new housing programmes for divorcees as well as a stabilisation of greenhouse gas emissions are among new initiatives rolled out by a number of ministries following the President's recent address.

At the opening of the 13th Parliament on Jan 15, President Tony Tan Keng Yam spoke about the Government's commitments to transform the country's urban landscape and to improve connectivity among other plans.

The ministries will take the lead from these four broad thrusts:

1. Ensure our physical environment remains clean, green and vibrant.

2. Build public housing and plan towns that support strong communities.

3. Make walking, cycling, and riding public transport a way of life.

4. Use data and technology to strengthen Singapore's information infrastructure, and transform the way we live.

Here are some highlights of the Addenda:

Reduce car usage; improve connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists 

The Ministry of Transport (MOT) has announced that it aims to reduce car usage in Singapore, in line with making Singapore a 'car-lite' city.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan cited a few examples of cities that have successfully re-organised infrastructure to achieve this: Madrid's downtown area has made way for more pedestrians while Hamburg plans to make cars obsolete in the next 15 to 20 years by creating more bike-friendly corridors.

In a post on his blog entitled Moving News, Mr Khaw explained how these cities were successful.

He wrote: "There have also been reports that youngsters in these cities are less inclined to own cars or learn to drive. Even in the US, home of the automobile, more and more people are eschewing car ownership in favour of shared services and public transport.

"This is in sharp contrast to many developing cities where the car remains very much cherished, including as a status symbol. These cities pay the price through congested roads and polluted air."

Taking the lead from these cities, Mr Khaw added that there are plans to reduce travel distances by bringing jobs closer to homes with the development of regional centres such as in Woodlands and Punggol, which are outside the Central Business District.

MOT will enhance rail reliability to support a car-lite city while making places and streets friendlier for pedestrians and cyclists.

Mr Khaw cited an example of improving connectivity: "Our new housing precincts such as Bidadari and Kampong Bugis are being designed with convenient access to MRT stations and bus stops, as well as good pedestrian and cycling networks to support a car-lite lifestyle."

He said that Ang Mo Kio Town is a pilot project to see "how we can adapt existing towns to be more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly".

MOT also announced that it will strengthen competitiveness of air and sea hubs with Changi Airport Terminals 4 and 5, Jewel Changi Airport and Pasir Panjang Terminal Phases 3 and 4.

In another initiative, the North-South Expressway will be reconfigured to be part of a North-South Corridor that will include express bus lanes and a cycling trunk route to the city.

MOT added that when the construction of the Downtown Line is completed, it will restore Bencoolen Street with wide pedestrian paths and a dedicated cycling lane to connect Rochor Canal and Bukit Timah to the Central Business District. There will also be more inter-town cycling routes such as the Queenstown-City Link and the Bishan-Kallang Link.

More inclusive housing

The Ministry of National Development (MND) announced that it will explore ways to support various vulnerable groups, including divorcees and low-income singles.

It added that the Fresh Start Housing Scheme will help second-timer public rental families who are committed to improving their situation, own a home.

MND will also explore co-locating child care, elder care and other social communal facilities to encourage intergeneration bonding.

On improving connectivity, MND announced that 90 per cent of households will live within 400m of a park or park connecters and the network of green corridors will be expanded from 300km to 400km by 2030.

Reduce pollution, ramp up food hygiene

The National Climate Change Secretariat, which falls under the purvey of the Prime Minister's Office, has committed to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions and reduce emissions intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) will tighten vehicular and industrial emission standards to reduce pollution.

There will also be more stringent checks on food hygiene.

MEWR will leverage on technology to improve on waste management and work with industries to reduce their carbon footprint, water and energy efficiency.