This Saturday (22 Jan), the National Parks officially announced that the eastern half of the Round Island Route (RIR), which is a continuous 75-kilometre-long park connector trail, has officially opened.
The opening of the eastern half is just a milestone for the great scheme; the Round Island Route is intended to be the longest recreational connection trial that loops around the island of Singapore and will be 150-kilometres-long when it completes in 2035.
Whoever is gung-ho enough to actually go for such a long bicycle ride when it fully opens, remember to check your bicycle tires, the amount of water supply you have and the locations of the nearest clinics and rest stops along the trail, because I salute you for your perseverance!
The Eastern Half of the Round Island Route
The eastern half, which is the first phase of the long green corridor of the RIR, starts from Rower’s Bay Park in Seletar, going through Sengkang Riverside Park, Pasir Ris Park, Changi Bay Park to end at Berlayer Creek near Labrador Park.
The route aims to connect the existing natural, cultural, historical and recreational sites, as well as providing more opportunities for nature-based recreational activities like hiking and cycling.
It is part of the initiative to enhance Singapore’s ecological connectivity between its natural habitats, thereby bolstering its ecological resilience.
There are numerous natural wonders to see along the trail too: be it crevices, waterscapes, endless greenery and foliage that have been planted along the route.
Some of the newest features of the route include the cycling bridges at Changi Bay Point, which is a 140-metre-long stretch made out of slip-resistant glass fibre and reinforced concrete, that also provides a beautiful view of the waterfront.
Or if you’re in love with marine diversity, you can get closer to the water’s edge along the boardwalk and lookout pavilion at Changi Bay to admire the tranquil scenery of lapping waters and the cooling sea breeze.
Besides that, there is also the Sengkang Riverside Bridge, which stands as the largest bridge across the canal, connecting both Sengkang Riverside Park and Sungei Punggol together, bringing its visitors a step closer to the forested nature.
Perhaps if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the smooth-coated otters that hang around the mangroves and coastal areas but care not to get too close because they might bite.
Of course, in consideration of how long the trial is, National Parks have also installed rest stops along the way.
The nodes are at Changi Bay Point, Sengkang Riverside Park and Jalan Kayu.
These resting stops come with shelters with solar panel charging points, bicycle parking lots, and toilets.
Seriously, National Parks has everything so comprehensively planned out, you’re almost certain to get the ride of your life, safely through the burrows of nature.
Opening of the Park Connector
To commemorate the opening of the park connector, Deputy Prime minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat, together with the Second Minister for National Development and Finance Indranee Rajah, and the Advisor for East Coast GRC, Dr Maliki Osman, visited the park connector personally and planted saplings of two native coastal plants.
Ah, a tradition never forgotten ever since Lee Kuan Yew started it.
In building the eastern half of the RIR alone, approximately 5,100 trees and shrubs were planted along the route to provide shade and reprieve from the sweltering heat.
Similarly, it is also to promote the natural biodiversity within Singapore, especially for native coastal riverine tree species like the penaga laut and small-leaved nutmeg.
If anything, having a calming stroll along the long route does sound like a good way to enjoy some time off amidst nature, listening in to the thrill of cicadas and the chirps of occasionally sighted rare bird species.
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