Singapore must go car-lite, sooner rather than later

Romesh Navaratnarajah28 Oct 2016

Baey Yam Keng at a cycling event in Singapore-crop

MP Baey Yam Keng at a cycling event in Singapore. (Photo: chuwasg, Wikimedia Commons)

With Singapore’s population forecast to grow to around 6.9 million by 2030, the nation needs to embrace car-lite mobility sooner to ensure its long-term liveability and sustainability, according to the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and the Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC), Singapore.

In a jointly launched publication, titled “Creating Liveable Cities through Car-Lite Urban Mobility”, the two agencies noted that transport infrastructure takes up 12 percent of the city-state’s land space, or close to that for housing (14 percent). As such, adding more roads and parking lots is neither sustainable nor feasible for land-scarce Singapore.

With this, ULI and CLC conducted two multi-stakeholder research workshops, which analysed the range of non-private car transportation options, including active mobility, shared cars and autonomous vehicles that will allow cities to become car-lite.

The car-lite approach is not new to Singapore. In fact, it has been adopted since the onset of the country’s urbanisation process.

But while most of these strategies were “designed to curb car ownership and usage, in practice, conventional traffic modelling and road design have led to the creation of an ecosystem that prioritises the movement of cars over access for pedestrians and cyclists”.

“The number of cyclist fatalities and injuries arising from accidents that involve motorists has been on the rise over the past few years, possibly due to a combination of factors such as an increase in the number of cyclists, inadequate infrastructure provision and a lack of education regarding safe cycling,” the report said.

To prepare cities for a car-lite future, the report offered 10 ideas that cut across multiple disciplines and stakeholder interests.

The suggestions include integrating urban planning with transportation, encouraging fair competition as a prerequisite for greater systematic efficiency and creation of an integrated package of “mobility as a service”, as well as creating development-based mobility demand management strategies.

Other ideas put forward include developing a high-quality public transport network as the backbone of cities’ future mobility system, and proactively shaping perceptions by influencing commuters’ travel choices via creative use of education, media and campaigns.

ULI and CLC said these ideas can “guide policymakers, governments and businesses in understanding how mobility changes as density increases and technologies disrupt in order to better plan for infrastructure that enhances liveability”.


Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email


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