Themed ‘Car-Free Sunday’, the six-month pilot is co-organised by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Sport Singapore and several other statutory boards, and is part of the government’s plan to encourage a ‘car-lite’ culture within the city-state.
Similar to Pedestrian Night on Orchard Road, the initiative will see road closures in parts of the civic and central business district on the last Sunday of each following month and activities will be scheduled early for vehicle owners to resume their weekend hustle after.
Organised by ActiveSG to provide the community with access to sport anytime and anywhere, the public were introduced to modified versions of popular sports such as 3-a-side Basketball, Mini Tennis, Tug-of-War, 4-a-side Football and traditional sports like Chapteh at Esplanade Park, Empress Lawn, Angsana Lawn, Queen Elizabeth Walk, Padang and St. Andrew’s Road.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong giving Chapteh a shot. Photo: Sport Singapore
Other interesting activities that were available included nordic walking, junior athletics, functional fitness workout, as well as dance fitness like Zumba, Piloxing and KpopX.
Gracing the inaugural event were Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who also participated in a cycle around the 4.7km route.
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan (left) and National Development Minister Lawrence Wong participates in the mass cycling event. Photo: Sport Singapore
While convincing the public on the benefits of the initiative can be difficult, Wong remained positive and was heartened by “the encouraging turnout.”
“We will definitely look into how we can improve for the future editions, and potentially, if the response gets even better, we would certainly want to continue beyond the six months and see how we can expand the event to a bigger area,” said Wong.
Wong highlighted that holding the event on a regular basis would “depend on how Singaporeans and stakeholders would respond” and hoped that mindsets will change progressively.
“It’s important that we not only look at the inconveniences, but embrace the positive side of it and hopefully, we can grow the Car-Free Sunday to a national movement for a ‘car-lite’ Singapore.”
For Kuek Shi Hui, taking part in the mass cycling activities with her family was worth waking up early for.
“I’m really happy that Singapore started our own car-free day,” she said.
“My family enjoys cycling very much and we do cycle together a lot along park connectors, but sometimes these places are quite limited and of course, we do enjoy cycling on the road.
“It’s good that we’re creating spaces like that, which gives us a wider place to exercise.”
Her aunt, Kuek Chiew Hia, shared similar sentiments, adding that the event “promoted family values” and hoped it could be held more often.
In conjunction with the day’s festivities, Team NILA also celebrated its first birthday in a cake-cutting ceremony, led by Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong and Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu lead a cake-cutting session to celebrate Team NILA's first birthday. Photo: Sport Singapore
Several Team Singapore athletes were spotted at the birthday celebration; Dr William Tan (wheelchair racer), Yip Pin Xiu (swimmer) and Zaki Mahmood (rugby), where they joined the public at the flag off and various sports try-out stations.
Team Singapore athletes Yip Pin Xiu (swimmer) and Zaki Mahmood (rugby). Photo: Sport Singapore
Dyan Tjhia, who was a volunteer for the 28th Southeast Asian Games and 8th ASEAN Para Games, said, “I’m very happy to be a part of Team NILA and it’s happy to see many members of Team NILA come together again.”
“Volunteering is not easy and for us, when we know that we’re making the journey easier for the athletes, it’s quite a satisfactory feeling.”