Monday, 3 July 2017

(The Star) Cycling culture picking up speed

Cycling culture, once ingrained in Malaysians as a means of getting around before slowly dying out, is making a comeback in urban areas.

Steadily but surely, there is a visible rise in the number of cyclists on the roads as people inch towards using the traditional means of transportation.

Local authorities in the Klang Valley are also using a holistic approach to keep abreast of the budding practice.

Their initiatives cover education, green city guidelines and infrastructure in an effort to unite Malaysians environmentally in reducing carbon emissions and, more importantly, traffic.

But when it comes to infrastructure, the question remains whether there is a large enough portion of the population making full use of the council’s investments.

Sepang Municipal Council (MPSepang)

MPSepang has extended the dedicated bicycle lane in Cyberjaya, via phase two of its road marking project.

“It was completed in January this year, at a cost of RM308,000,” said MPSepang president Datuk Puasa Md Taib.

“Phase two covers a 13.7km, two-way route involving Persiaran Multimedia (3.2km), Persiaran Tasik (4.8km), Persiaran Rimba Permai (3.2km) and Persiaran Ceria (2.5km).”

The earlier phase covered a 5.8km two-way route from Persiaran Semarak Api to Persiaran Flora.

It was completed in January last year at a cost of RM171,400.

Trails dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians only act as a safety barrier from fast-riding motorcyclists

The bicycle lane is part of the Cyberjaya City Design Programme to build interesting, obstacle-free routes for cyclists.

“The bicycle lane has been extended in view of the increasing need for additional public facilities and the popularity of weekend recreational rides,” said Puasa.

He added that MPSepang is planning to implement phase three of the bicycle lane project on a cost-sharing basis through collaborations with developers.

It will cover a 11.7km route comprising Persiaran Bestari (6km), Persiaran Rimba Permai (4.4km) and Persiaran Apec (1.3km).

The developers involved are Roponggi Sdn Bhd, Maju Puncak Bumi Sdn Bhd, Wawasan Rajawali Sdn Bhd, Symphony Hills Sdn Bhd, Setia Haruman Sdn Bhd and Cyberview Sdn Bhd.

Puasa said phase three will be included in the council’s budget for next year.

Meanwhile, construction of a proposed 4.6km route along Persiaran Multimedia will be included in the Malaysian Road Records Information System (Marris) allocation, under road resurfacing and upgrade works.

The developer of Starling Mall in Damansara Uptown, Petaling Jaya, has built dedicated bicycle and pedestrian lanes and bicycle racks (centre) around the mall.

Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ)

“MPSJ is proposing a Bicycle Lane Master Plan pilot project with a 15.46km bicycle lane that will link existing parks in the Putra Heights neighbourhoods.

“This plan will be expanded to other areas in future,” said MPSJ Corporate and Strategic Management deputy director Azfarizal Abdul Rashid.

He said there are also plans to expand the oBike bike-sharing service to other areas.

“After the success of oBike in Subang Jaya and Bandar Sunway, we are keen on expanding the programme to other areas where there is high demand and good support from the community.

“MPSJ supports the oBike service as it encourages cycling and can be seen as a form of green transportation.\

“The bike-sharing project is part of MPSJ’s initiative towards achieving Green City 2030 status,” said Azfarizal.

As part of the council’s efforts to encourage cycling, he said cycling routes, bicycle racks, bicycle lane signage and facilities are provided in areas under MPSJ’s administration, both by MPSJ and developers.

Existing facilities are enhanced and upgraded to make them more user-friendly and to meet current needs.

These facilities are designed based on the Public Works Department (JKR)’s standards and adhere to the implementation guide for Crime Prevention through Environmental Design by PlanMalaysia, under the Town andCountry Planning Department.

“MPSJ has made it compulsory for transit-oriented developments and high-density developments to provide bicycle facilities. Facilities such as bicycle racks must be included as part of the planning permission for the development.

“MPSJ also promotes cycling through community events, such as Kayuhan Hidup Sihat MPSJ that is organised quarterly every year,” said Azfarizal.

There are presently three cycling routes in areas under MPSJ’s administration — Jalan Tujuan, USJ 3, Subang Jaya (2.4km), Sungai Kuyoh, Seri Kembangan (900m) and Puchong Perdana, Puchong (2.4km).

Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ)

Aware that cycling is an increasingly popular mode of transport and to encourage more people to cycle, MBPJ public relations officer Zainun Zakaria said the council will be adding more bicycle routes and programmes in future.

They comprise the Car Free Day Programme, Bandar Utama Cycleways, Section 13 Cycleways and Kota Damansara Cycleways (Phase One).

These will complement the existing dedicated bicycle routes, namely Taman Jaya Cycleways, Damansara Damai Urban Park Cycleways, Ara Damansara Cycleways, Kota Damansara Community Forest Cycleways, PJS 10 Cycleways and one-way loop in Section 52.

Zainun said the one-way loop is one of the routes that has separate bicycle and pedestrian lanes.

“MBPJ’s transit-oriented development guidelines state that cycling facilities are one of the criteria that a developer must have, to encourage residents to use bicycles to the nearest public transport transit station,” said Zainun.

“For current and future developments, developers need to state the type of pedestrian and/ or bicycle facilities they intend to provide as part of their application for the project’s planning permission.

“Developers are also required to provide connectivity with existing pedestrian and/ or bicycle routes, or routes that will link the proposed site to the surrounding area.”

In addition, she said MBPJ’s Safe City Design has outlined elements that incorporate safety for cyclists and pedestrians.

These include ensuring pedestrian and bicycle paths are separated from main roads to prevent snatch theft and accidents, ensuring those paths are clean and well-maintained to enhance public confidence in using the facilities, and installing lighting at the appropriate distance and height.

Zainun added that some of the bicycle facilities provided by MBPJ included push button traffic lights, signage, bicycle lanes and road crossings.

MBS A built a 8.5km bicycle lane several years ago. It covers a 1.5km stretch within the Section 4 housing area as well as a 7km stretch covering the Shah Alam city centre and Sections 14, 10 and 5. Seen here is the stretch along Persiaran Masjid in Section 5, near the Shah Alam Mosque.

Shah Alam City Council (MBSA)

Running through Shah Alam’s city centre is a cycling path measuring 7km in length, crossing Section 5, 10 and 14 with another 1.5km in the Section 4 residential area.

These existing paths are separated from the main road by facilities such as railings, bollards, zebra crossings, information boards and parking lots.

An additional 15km is in the works, said MBSA Corporate Communications head Shahrin Ahmad as the council looks to a broader plan for infrastructure.

“The additional 15km bike path will be built to further integrate existing bicycle path facilities as the route extension will link main buildings within the city centre and connect the hub to its surrounding areas for a seamless ride.”

He said the initiative was drawn in line with MBSA’s mission to become a Low Carbon City by 2030 and the Selangor government’s policy aimed at providing 1,000km worth of new cycling tracks within a five-year span.

“Housing developers are now required to provide cycling routes in each new development,” Shahrin said, using the planned 90km cycling path in Sime Darby Property Sdn Bhd’s Elmina development as an example.

Nevertheless, Shahrin explained that a large percentage of cyclists in Shah Alam are getting on their bikes only for recreational purposes.

“We want to encourage the public to use bicycles as a ‘first and last mile’ alternative to public transport.

He expressed the council’s interest in bike-sharing services such as oBike in reducing carbon emissions.

“oBike started services at several locations and we are also coordinating the bike-sharing concept with uBike, a company from Taiwan, to provide its services in the city.”

Aside from adding cycling tracks, the council is attempting to get citizens used to idea of travelling through the city on bicycles with facilities such as traffic lights to make them feel safer, and programmes such as ‘Cycle to Work Day’.

The cycling lane at the intersection of Jalan Ang Seng and Klang River, part of the 5.5km pathway for cyclists stretching from Mid Valley to Dataran Merdeka, runs parallel to the riverbank.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL)

At present, City Hall boasts a 5.5km stretch of routes parallel to riverways from the Mid Valley area that connects to the heart of the city, Dataran Merdeka.

The route itself is linked to the Federal Highway’s bike lane, which in effect becomes a major artery in the Klang Valley that essentially joins Klang to Kuala Lumpur for cyclists.

DBKL corporate communications director Khalid Zakaria said that other routes include Wangsa Maju to Taman Melati (4km), and Wangsa Maju to Taman Batu Muda (2km).

“But there are a few obstacles in the location as work on the River of Life is underway.

“Encouraging response to the use of these bicycle route facilities has encouraged DBKL to conduct more detailed studies to be extended to other areas.

“However, bicycle lanes in the city centre cannot be built specifically for cyclists at the moment, only shared with pedestrians and public transport in certain locations simply due to a lack of space.”

He added that DBKL does not provide bicycle parking, instead sharing parking facilities with motorcycles as the culture of cycling is still in its infancy.

“At this point, facilities provided are at a minimal or basic in light of our observation that cycling is still used for recreation, not a mode of transportation.

“DBKL has yet to make the facilities mandatory in developments but space for these facilities is still a priority.”

Khalid said factors of concern involved the routes and lack of space in the city centre that detrac-ted from the safety of cycling as a mode of transportation in the city.

“But supplementary features provided, especially around the city centre and high-risk areas, include pedestrian routes fitted with anti-climb fences to prevent snatch thefts as well as Car Free Morning programmes to encourage cycling, he said.

Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ)

For MPAJ, the bulk of its cycling paths are still under construction, said the council’s press relations officer Norhayati Ahmad.

“There are proposed works to build and equip bicycle routes in Jalan Serdang, Jalan F1 Hulu Klang, Jalan Taman Melawati, as well as Jalan Taman Melawati 1, 2, 3, and 4.

“The project generally involves painting road lines for a stretch of 7.258km using ‘thermoplastic’ paint to act as a separator between the cycling paths and main roads for the comfort and safety of road users.

“It also revolves around road widening works, realignment of existing roads, installation of aluminium reflective road studs and safety signage.”

She said the estimated cost of building and completing the bicycle lanes and related works was RM141,704.