Monday, 27 February 2012

The Round Island Route - A seamless green corridor spanning 150km

Island-wide green link in the works
Route will connect parks, existing cycling paths and heritage spots around S'pore
By Kezia Toh, The Sunday Times, 26 Feb 2012

A seamless green corridor spanning 150km that links up heritage areas in the city, coastal spots in the east and rustic greenery in the north and west will be Singapore's next big green project.

The Round Island Route, which is more than three times the length of Singapore, will connect more than 3.5 million residents.



Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean announced this yesterday at the launch of the North Eastern Riverine Loop at the Sungei Serangoon park connector.

'The Round Island Route will allow us to embark on journeys to look at Singapore in new and wonderful ways, as it passes through popular recreation nodes and also the less seen and explored corners of our island,' said DPM Teo, who is also Member of Parliament (MP) for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, which oversees the Riverine Loop area.

NParks is seeking the public's views on areas where the route would pass through. The route will also link some parts of the existing network of park connectors, which now spans 200km.

The route could also host larger community and sporting events, such as marathons, said DPM Teo.

He added: 'Perhaps one could enjoy a two-day cycling tour round the island using this route, and include an overnight camp at one of our parks.'

The project, one of the National Parks Board's (NParks) biggest infrastructural undertakings to date, is still on the drawing board. NParks could not say when it will embark on construction works or when the project could be completed.

It is now seeking public feedback through its online portal (www.nparks.gov.sg/ciag), as part of its City in a Garden (CIAG) engagement exercise.

The feedback is for ideas to optimise urban spaces for greenery and recreation, and rejuvenating urban parks, for example.

The online exercise has received more than 3,000 ideas to date.

NParks will also seek views from the public during roving exhibitions to key parks, housing estates and shopping centres.

It will then set up focus groups to evaluate these ideas.

The idea to build the route was first mooted in the Urban Redevelopment Authority's island-wide Leisure Plan in 2008.

One of the plans was to build a 150km round-island route for people to stroll, jog or cycle around Singapore.

During its ongoing CIAG consultation exercise, NParks also received suggestions in favour of a continuous green corridor.

Cycling club Love Cycling SG's co-founder, Mr Woon Taiwoon, 37, is excited about the round-island route, as it offers a more complete biking experience.

But a key factor to its success would be how it links to park connectors.

He told The Sunday Times: 'Park connectors need to be linked in a relevant way such that you connect paths where people will use them, like in areas with high traffic, for example.'




Waterfront loop a biodiversity haven
It hugs waterways for much of its route and is home to water birds and a family of otters
By Kezia Toh, The Sunday Times, 26 Feb 2012

Water birds such as the grey heron and the white-throated kingfisher caught the eye of Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean when he took a stroll along the Sungei Serangoon park connector yesterday.

'NParks also told me there is a family of otters which makes guest appearances at some points along the loop,' he said.

DPM Teo, who is an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, was in the area to launch the 26km North Eastern Riverine Loop.

He was impressed by the biodiversity found along the loop, saying that it is important to enhance this amid Singapore's dense urban landscape.

'Such biodiversity is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of city life, and provides opportunities for recreational activities like bird-watching,' he said.

Built at a cost of $57 million, the project was undertaken by three agencies - the National Parks Board, or NParks, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Housing Board.

This latest loop links park connectors and parks within the Sengkang and Punggol areas for greater accessibility.

It is the fourth of seven loops completed, and also the most scenic to date.

For example, 80 per cent of the route hugs waterways, linking up waterside developments such as the Lorong Halus Wetland and the Sengkang Floating Wetland.

The array of flora - large clumps of lemon grass, Spanish reed and firecracker plants - scattered along the loop also performs double duty. Besides making the area more attractive, it is well-placed to treat storm water, help prevent soil erosion and to act as a flood-prevention measure.

The new loop also links up with the Punggol Waterway and the Punggol Promenade - a 4.9km stretch that links Punggol Point and Punggol East - opening up previously inaccessible stretches along the coast.

A new feature is the 2.4km Nature Walk, which has been left as rustic as possible, with existing trees and vegetation retained.

The promenade was also the site of a charity bike ride yesterday, which raised more than $55,000 for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (SPMF).

More than 100 cyclists took part in the event, organised for the fourth time by Mr Han Jok Kwang, 57, an avid cyclist who last year became a SPMF Trustee.




New green corridor an opportunity for all
Editorial, The Straits Times, 1 Mar 2012

THE Round Island Route, a seamless green corridor that will link heritage areas, coastal spots and rustic greenery, is very much a new aspect of Singapore's unfolding tapestry. On gaining independence in 1965, the country faced the task of surmounting monumental economic, security and social challenges. Hence the Government's relentless emphasis on growing the economy through industrial development, attracting investments, education, skills development; efforts at promoting social cohesion; developing the military and the like. So successful was the strategy that Singapore became a synonym for development. That ongoing process has meant new housing estates, more roads and highways, a shining business district, attractive shopping malls, a rail system - all representations of the pinnacle of material achievement and aspirations for a city that is global in its reach. But aspirations have also increasingly broadened to include softer aspects. Like making the city more lively and liveable; creating green and other spaces for rest and recreation - despite the needs and demands of economic development in a land-scarce country.

The importance of this cannot be over-estimated. Green spaces the world over invite and encourage people to step out of work and home routines, foster social contact, and have the important effect of improving emotional well-being. For a country enjoying higher living standards, these are intangibles that contribute to a higher quality of life. The Round Island Route is but the latest initiative which demonstrates that economic development does not mean unrelenting industrialisation and urbanisation. It offers Singaporeans more avenues for recreation and relaxation; excitement at the ability to explore less-seen corners of the island; and will provide links to heritage areas. It will bring the benefits of being able to recharge body and mind, opportunities for families to bond more closely through outings, and create a sense of community over and above that which comes from living in housing estates. But for the initiative to prove its worth, Singaporeans must make use of the opportunities on offer. Community and sporting events can be held along its route; neighbourhoods can volunteer to take ownership of sections and give emphasis to features that are unique to that part of the island.

The scope for involvement is limited only by the imagination of those who are interested and willing to play a part. The route - more than three times the length of Singapore - will connect more than 3.5 million residents. It would be a pity if it were to end up as the preserve of a few. All Singaporeans should take up the opportunity to get outdoors, and to get involved.


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