Car-Free Friday? What’s that? A bicycle race?
Those were my thoughts when I first heard about the event. Being unaware about the existence of the event, it piqued my curiosity to find out what it’s all about.
I did some quick research and found out that it’s an event that blocks off 5.5km of road in the city centre away from the traffic. The public is able to walk, cycle or ride on their Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs) along the roads while enjoying the city. They can also take part in a variety of outdoor and cultural activities.
With Singapore’s envisions to go car-lite, the event encourages Singaporeans to walk, cycle and use public transport more often.
This year, the first-ever Car-Free weekend was held over three days, from 29 to 31 March, along the Padang and Telok Ayer. The heritage-themed event also had a splendid line-up of events, including guided tours for temples and other cultural activities. Having gotten the opportunity to attend the Friday and Sunday events, let me tell you about my experience at Car-Free Friday!
Getting ready for the event wasn’t as easy as I initially thought it would be. Simply bringing our new CarryMe compact foldable bikes, the Segway-Ninebot ES2 e-scooter and MiniLITE hoverboard wasn’t enough. Weeks of preparation have gone into this event. Banners had to be designed and printed. Even a large collapsible gazebo tent was brought along.
It might be a little embarrassing to say this, but it was my first time seeing how an event booth is prepared and set-up. Well, you learn something new every day, don’t you?
Lucky me, I didn’t have to help out with the loading and unloading of the heavier items as my other colleagues did. But I made sure I helped in other ways!
We reached the location at 11am, where I helped to unpack some of the bikes while others set up the booth.
Our booth faced a stretch of Chinese temples, namely the Thian Hock Keng and Yu Huang Gong temples along Telok Ayer Street. It was honestly quite a sight to see as I have never really took much notice of the cultural side of Singapore.
After going through the struggle of setting up the large gazebo, we were finally ready to welcome the customers!
It was about 11.30am, when the heat from the afternoon sun was blazing. Under such sweltering weather, the number of visitors at our booth took me by surprise. Unlike me who had succumbed to the heat, everyone who came to the booth were so energised and eager to try out the rides. The vibrant appearance of the foldable CarryMe micro folding bikes attracted a lot of attention and were arguably one of the favourites with visitors.
The Segway MiniLite hoverboard was a close second. Maybe it’s because of the MiniLite’s self-balancing function, everyone who tried out the hoverboard got the hang of it immediately. As for me, I took about a week to finally be able to step on the MiniLite without assistance. Needless to say, I was pretty impressed by the visitors who tried out the MiniLite.
At around 12pm, it was time for us to do a live video on Facebook, where we talked about the newly launched CarryMe folding micro bikes, the CarryAll three-wheeled tricycle, as well as the Segway-Ninebot ES2 e-scooter and Segway-Ninebot MiniLite. There were quite a few people walking past our booth as we were doing the Facebook live video.
As it turns out, these people were mostly tourists who came to sightsee or are office workers from the nearby office buildings. It was lunch time so it made sense that they had the spare time to come by our booth.
After the “live”, I spent most of my remaining time at the event explaining the products to the visitors at our booth. It was a good test on my interaction skills with customers. I had to make sure I memorised the correct prices and specifications for each product. I might have made a few mistakes here and there, but everyone was generally pretty friendly and understanding.
The crowd eventually died down by about 2pm, and we decided to call it a day and started to pack up at 2.30pm since the event was ending at 3pm.
Looking back at the Car-Free Friday event, I would say that apart from the hot weather, I got a pretty good opportunity to experience face-to-face interaction with the public. I also had time to enjoy the view of the temples’ architecture, which made me appreciate how a part of Singapore’s traditional culture can still be seen among the modern city landscape.
Overall, I thought the event was a useful platform to encourage the budding car-lite culture in Singapore. I came across a few parents who brought their children to the event while riding their bicycles. In which I thought was a good way to educate the future generation about making the environment more sustainable. It is also a great opportunity for businesses to promote their products to people who are actually interested in going car-lite.
If I ever get the chance to attend Car-Free Friday again, I would love to check out more of the cultural activities and maybe even bring a bike there to cycle. The light and petite CarryMe folding bike would be the perfect ride to bring along!
Albeit not being able to take part in the rest of the activities, I was definitely looking forward to what Car-Free Sunday had in store for me.