ORCHARD Road started off as a site for nutmeg and fruit plantations and when the world changed, it repurposed itself into a shopping belt.
Now that shopping habits have changed, with many purchases being made online, it seems Orchard Road has to conform, and change to stay lively.
Now that there’s serious talk about how Orchard Road can be made into a pedestrian passage, you have to ask if that’s going to help.
Besides the fact it’s not the most creative idea, we shouldn’t be doing this just because other cities do it.
Ask ourselves, do we really have the weather for this? It’s either steaming hot or raining, and invariably pedestrians are going to opt for air-conditioning or shelter underground (where there’s no traffic).
It will be good times for the ice-cream man, though.
Since Orchard Road is a retail precinct, it seems to defy logic to convert it for the benefit of those wandering through with not much intention of purchasing.
Also, since it’s a retail zone, what do the retailers have to say about a decision that seems to have been reached by government agencies?
What Does It Offer?
While it may make for a nice stretch to walk along, what does Orchard Road offer? Shops and more shops (mainly internationally brands), and restaurants, of course.
Those with the serious intention of buying the goods on offer along Orchard Road are likely to drive.
And just think what the traffic congestion is going to be like on the other roads that will now have to carry the Orchard Road load? Are we going to expect more Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantries or higher fees since they’ll be moving slower due to greater volume of traffic?
But, if it really must be done, then, why not choose another street that’s less congested? Something that runs perpendicular to Orchard Road.
Or, if the intention is to get a nation to start walking, why not make better use of the expensive park connectors?
I think its a great idea to close at least a large part of Orchard Road – get rid of private cars first. Create a lane for bikes. One lane for buses. Don’t have a the great disruption with a dug up Orchard Road for a year. Do it progressively. Also look at bringing life onto the pavement and road. More art in small pieces/exhibits. Little performance stages along with way. Street theatre. More al fresco dining and drinking. Buskers. Markets. Involve retailers along the way – to bring some of their merchandise out onto the street.
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