Joggers pounding on Macritchie Boardwalk

From ‘Runners kill the joy of leisurely walk’, 12 Sept 2011, ST Forum and ‘Too popular for its own good?’, 12 Sept 2011, article by Feng Zengkun, ST

(Munir Shah): AN INCONSIDERATE habit that takes the smile off the face of nature lovers who enjoy a leisurely walk is slowly becoming rampant. More and more runners are encroaching on walkers’ space in parks, and many are found pounding the boardwalk at MacRitchie Reservoir.

I have covered almost 90 per cent of the parks and interconnectors here and have also enjoyed walking in many parks and tracks abroad. Our walking trails here are indeed the best. But the encroachment by runners is threatening to spoil the walking experience of many people. At MacRitchie’s boardwalk, nuts and bolts are loosening on either ends of the wooden planks because of their heavy pounding.

Runners should make use of the many beautiful MacRitchie nature trails and leave pathways meant for walkers alone.

…(Patrick Poon, jogger): As it is, I already have to run around couples who hold hands while hiking and block half the path.

(Llyod Tan, jogger): It used to be that you would see another runner only one in a while… but now the park feels like an amusement park sometimes.

We’ve seen a fair share of feuds among us of late. PAP voters vs Opposition voters, curry lovers vs PRCs, but nothing can get uglier than a spat between a jogger, stroller and cyclist, a brutal three-way fight for the diminishing commodity that is personal space like a pack of hyenas, lionesses and vultures ( in no particular order) tussling over a fresh kill. Calling our premier reservoir an amusement park would be appropriate in the seventies when Macritchie was indeed a festival ground for carnivals and performances rather than a training haven for StanChart marathon addicts. Today, it seems there’s nothing fun about Macritchie anymore when you have walkers like Mr Shah  inspecting the integrity of nuts and bolts under the boardwalk instead of appreciating nature. There also appears to be a MINIMUM speed limit such that languid loitering about is frowned upon, simply because one man’s enjoying the moment in the middle of nowhere has become another man’s roadblock.  In the end, everyone gets stressed out, which defeats the purpose of recreation entirely.

Such anxiety over being sent crashing down to the bushes or getting knocked over into the water by a marauding jogger or cyclist makes a ‘walk in the park’ anything but, turning the  ‘lungs’ of our congested urban landscape into a hard-knocking battleground of ‘knees and elbows’ instead. Angry joggers have a violent history of crashing into old people or punching cyclists in the faces whenever their paths are crossed. Perhaps this aggression and fixation with unobstructed  paths has something to do with the national obsession with marathons, which imbues runners with a competitive streak and spoils them by cordoning off roads so that the only obstacle ahead of them is other runners, not old people, maids walking dogs or gangs walking astride. Or perhaps this heavy pounding is just a non-verbal way of alerting strollers that they’re coming through, short of yelling ‘Excuse me’ and ruining everyone’s day further. It would be tragic if this hidden courtesy were to turn into disaster if the boardwalk were, as the writer suggests, on the brink of collapsing.

You can’t even hold hands with your loved ones without forming a barricade to those behind you, or point at birds in the distance without getting your wrist entangled in the earphone wires of a rampaging jogger, or worse, stabbing them in the eye with your finger. What Macritchie needs isn’t a new restaurant or a fountain, but a police station and a hospital, though it would be much cheaper if people just used a little common sense and exercised some tolerance for a fellow park user, without the park authorities putting up lanes just for different speed limits.

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