When Sembawang GRC MP Mariam Jaafar talks to residents near Kampung Admiralty, she never fails to inquire about a 200m stretch of road that has caused some controversy in her ward.
In a six-month trial that began on February 20, barriers were installed along a section of Woodlands Ring Road between Woodlands Drive 63 and Woodlands Drive 71, turning one lane into a pedestrian and cyclist route.
It is one of two pedestrianisation trials undertaken by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in the heart of the region, as well as one of 60 road-repurposing schemes under consideration.For both walking and biking, the footpaths can be used and are an integral part of Singapore’s drive to get there.
The studies on Admiralty and Havelock Road near Bukit Ho Swee are a promising development by transport experts.
However, they earned a mixture of resident encouragement and cynicism.”(When it comes to) supporting walking and cycling, Singapore is not as mature as some other cities both in terms of our roads and society, so there’s a question of readiness,” said Ms Mariam. “Thus, we appreciate that the approach is to trial and learn, using temporary, low-cost changes. It’s important to me that the design process is participatory.”
She claimed that the LTA selected the stretch of road in her ward because it has a high concentration of elderly people.
According to the LTA, the trial in Woodlands offers more space for people and students from local schools, including Minds Woodlands Gardens School, to stroll and cycle.
It has also improved and rendered safer connections to Kampung Admiralty, the Admiralty MRT station, and other facilities.
“Motorists will still have the choice of using alternative roads such as Woodlands Drive 42, Woodlands Drive 52 and Woodlands Drive 65,” LTA said, noting the trial has not had significant impact on traffic conditions.Meanwhile, the welcome was primarily optimistic to the project on Havelock Lane.
A stretch of road was chosen for the trial, which will also last about six months, because foot traffic cannot be accommodated during peak hours and is potentially insecure for senior citizens.
LTA said Woodlands and Havelock Road trials could be performed indefinitely sooner with Community cooperation.Whether or not the trials are successful, they will provide authorities with useful data on how pedestrians and drivers respond to a more pedestrianized world, according to Associate Professor Raymond Ong of the National University of Singapore, who studies transportation infrastructure.
Ms Mariam mentioned that the next step would be to create a network of linked walking and cycling paths.”Then you have to make people want to walk and cycle. They must see personal benefits, whether it is to their health, their travel time or their pockets. The pandemic actually is a great impetus for this,” she said.
Pedestrianised Woodlands Ring Road trial gets mixed reactions
“Previously, the walking path tended to be congested. Delivery riders use the same path and we have a lot of elderly in the area. I have seen a number of close encounters where pedestrians were nearly knocked down,” the 49-year-old marine surveyor said.
Mr Lee, a 52-year-old cyclist, was glad that people now have more room to workout.
But some residents say the trial has done more harm than good.
“Very few people walk along that stretch of road in the first place. But there is a lot of vehicle traffic. So this project will make nobody happy,” said one resident, who commented on a Facebook post by Sembawang GRC MP Mariam Jaafar.
The Straits Times toured the area many times last month and only saw a few pedestrians using the pedestrianized route each time.
Despite big signage and markers on the bus-only lane, some motorists continue to use it.
Mr. Fauzi A. Rahman, 45, living on Block 649 Woodlands Ring Road near a peasant road said the drivers were confused and unpleasant about the closure of the road to the traffic.”I feel a ring road should be a (complete) circle,” said Mr Fauzi, who works in IT.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has received positive reviews, including requests for additional amenities such as seating, greenery, bike lanes, and covered linkways to make the city more conducive to walking and cycling.
According to the LTA, a protected linkway linking Kampung Admiralty and Block 649 will be constructed if pedestrianisation is made permanent.
Ms Mariam stated that there have been a few complaints about traffic congestion and has requested that the LTA look into it. THE STRAINING TIMES