Selangor is setting the early pace: Kuala Kubu Bharu could have bicycle lanes by December, followed by PJ and Shah Alam. How about Penang, Kinta Valley and JB?
This thing about cycle lanes should go well beyond tokenism and instead should be expanded into a well-planned network that would encourage people to leave their cars and motorbikes at home.
Selangor Times reports:
Bike lanes coming to Selangor
HULU SELANGOR: Kuala Kubu Bharu will become the first town in Selangor with its own designated bike lanes by December, with Petaling Jaya and Shah Alam likely to follow suit soon.
Executive councillor Elizabeth Wong told Selangor Times the Hulu Selangor District Council, in its July full board meeting, had approved a proposal to construct bike lanes around Kuala Kubu Bharu.
“Kuala Kubu Bharu will serve as a pilot project. If it is successful, the Petaling Jaya mayor is also keen to build bike lanes around the city [to reduce traffic congestion and the city’s carbon footprint],” said Wong in a phone interview.
Wong said Shah Alam is another city that has the potential to transform itself into a biking city as its development over the years has been more controlled and organised.
Selangor is mirroring a worldwide trend where major cities including London, Paris and Washington, DC are taking various steps to promote cycling as the preferred mode of transport.
Apart from constructing bike lanes, Wong said Selangor and relevant local governments will be amending their laws and by-laws to ensure cyclists’ safety on the road.
“Safety is our number-one concern. So, for example, we plan to introduce penalties for those who endanger cyclists by parking their vehicles on bicycle routes,” said Wong.
She added that public education and campaigns are needed to educate road users to be considerate to cyclists on the road. Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim warming up with participants of the Run for Peace in Taman Klang Jaya last Sunday.
Hulu Selangor district councillor Chua Yee Ling told Selangor Times the state government, district council and the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research are very supportive of Kuala Kubu Bharu’s bike lane project.
Chua said an estimated RM800,000 will be needed to implement the project, which will be sponsored by the state.
“Currently many local residents choose to drive, even for short journeys, to schools or town because it can be dangerous to cycle with inconsiderate car drivers on the road.
“With designated bike lanes [separated from the main road], it’ll be safer for children to cycle to schools and residents to cycle to town,” said Chua when met at Kuala Kubu Bharu.
She said parking spaces will be provided in public places such as schools, bus stations, post offices and markets for cyclists to park their bikes.
The Public Works Department has yet to finalise the bicycle route, but it is expected to connect the town centre, SJK (T) Kuala Kubu Bharu, SJK (C) Khing Ming and SMK Kuala Kubu Bharu Bestari Perdana with residential areas like Taman Pesara, Taman Seruling, and Chinese new village Kampung Asam Kumbang.
Chua expects the move to reduce the number of cars on the road and traffic congestion during peak hours in town.
“For short-distance travel, cycling is actually better than driving because it saves time, petrol, reduces your carbon footprint and is healthier,” she said.
Existing bike lanes surrounding vernacular school SJK (C) Khing Ming will be incorporated into the new bicycle route as well.
However, Chua pointed out that Putrajaya, Jonker Street in Malacca and Georgetown in Penang have their own bike lanes, but local residents do not make use of them due to a lack of promotion by the authorities.
To avoid such failure in its bike lane project, Chua said the district council will launch a strong campaign to publicise its bike lanes and encourage residents and schoolchildren to cycle.
“We’ll educate the public on traffic and safety rules for cyclists, and join hands with bike shops to have promotions or discounts for bicycle purchases,” said Chua.
Early last month, Petaling Jaya mayor Datuk Roslan Sakiman expressed interest in building bike lanes around the city.
Roslan, who started cycling to work last month, told the press that designated bicycle routes are needed to make cycling safer and more convenient for the public.
The mayor urged residential associations or local organisations that are keen to have bike lanes in their area to submit proposals to the city council so that the council would have a better gauge of the public’s interest in the initiative.
Speaking of KKB, the town’s attractions could do with some sprucing up and promotion. The place has some interesting picnic spots near streams, a waterfall, and a hot water spring. The place also needs a better equipped library and more tree-planting.
KKB was once a lush green town full of trees and shrubs bursting with wild colourful flowers. Spacious fields and a continuous flow of breeze added to the gentle charm. But now, sadly and most unfortunately, concrete has been poured all over, turning the town into a gigantic microwave oven.
And Penang? Well, Penang plans to go car-free on three roads on Sundays – Church Street, Beach Street and Bishop Street. Perhaps this could pave the wave for larger sections of George Town to be closed to cars not only on Sundays but other days as well. See Malaysian Insider report here.