A Car-free Marina Bay

The Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI), a US-based education and research organisation, are embarking on a year-long study to see if this could become a reality.

The joint research group won a US$20,000 (S$28,000) grant from the ULI last month to study the iconic downtown area. Workshops will be held with about 50 stakeholders, comprising urban planning experts, developers and tenants. The findings will be published in a book next year.

Mr Scott Dunn, ULI's principal researcher for the latest study, said Singapore has the "right governance structure" for such a car-free urban area to materialise. 

Taking Marina Bay as an example, roads would still be in place for delivery vehicles and public transport, but private cars could be replaced with public transit, car-sharing, walking and cycling. However, there will be a need for good connections to bus stops and rail stations, bicycle storage, changing and shower facilities, Mr Dunn said. 

Industry experts interviewed by The Sunday Times said going car-free would have huge implications on development, including less need for parking space. Car-sharing and autonomous vehicles will also reduce the need for private cars, and this will lead to shorter travel times, less congestion and a smaller environmental impact.

The excess road and parking space could also be adapted for other uses, such as a cycling lane or a public space. Dr Alexander Erath, a transport researcher at the Singapore-ETH Future Cities Laboratory, said the challenge would be thinking about how the excess space can be used.

Nevertheless, the chief consideration should be given to providing viable transport alternatives. "For most people, the car is just a utility. If you can cover this mobility (need) with viable alternatives, they won't need their cars so much. People want reliable mobility, not cars," said Dr Erath.

What would encourage you to go car-free? How can we optimise the use of excess roads and parking space in car-free areas? Share your thoughts with us!

Source: “Can Marina Bay area do without cars?” (The Sunday Times,  22 November 2015) 

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