BICYCLE-FRIENDLY- ARE WE THERE YET? (Part 2)

The Malaysian Case?

There is currently no written documentation with regards to the status of bicycle infrastructure facilities or planning for bicycle infrastructure in Malaysia.  Efforts at making cycling as a mode of transport for work in Malaysia are still at its infancy. Cycling remains largely a form of recreation for the moment and to a larger extent, for sports whereby we have two velodromes (Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur) built for such purposes. We also have the annual LeTour de Langkawi which is a major international cycling event that Malaysia hosts. Although a few towns/cities do have bicycle tracks/lanes, they are mostly not comprehensive enough for the whole town but rather limited to certain recreational spots. The infrastructure is certainly not as complete as those in the bicycle cities of the world as the bicycle lanes here lack continuity and limited in its infrastructure. There are hardly any traffic lights for bicycles!  Perhaps the signage on the bicycle lane is the only visible item that reflects the existence of cycling facilities in an area. Among the towns or cities which do have or plan to have bicycle tracks/lanes include Putrajaya, Petaling Jaya and Kuching, to name a few.

Putrajaya

Putrajaya, being the new administrative centre of the country has managed to incorporate some cycle tracks, more so for recreational purposes. The tourism ministry has recently introduced eight “1Malaysia Holidays Cycling Packages” to boost tourism in Putrajaya3. A typical two-night cycling package costs around RM450.00 with accommodation and RM250.00 without. Among the recreational areas that offer cycling facilities in Putrajaya include the Wetlands Park and the Botanical Gardens.  Putrajaya Corporation undertakes upgrading its cycling lanes which would connect eight public parks around Putrajaya, namely Taman Botani, Taman Warisan Pertanian, Taman Wawasan, Taman Wetland, Taman Ekuastrian Putrajaya, Taman Putra Perdana, Taman Rimba Alam, and  Taman Selatan. Elsewhere in Putrajaya, certain housing areas are provided with limited cycle tracks which are shared with pedestrian walkways, mainly for recreation as well.

Petaling Jaya

The Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) had its first blue coloured bicycle lane in Damansara Damai on Saturday 14 July 2012, which runs 5.6 km starting in Jalan PJU 10/14. This is just one-tenth of the 56km bicycle lanes which the council plans to link the city including cycle racks to be created behind bus-stops leading to the Damansara Damai Urban Park. The council’s enforcement officers will patrol the lane for the next few months to ensure safety of the cyclists. The bicycle lane’s targeted users for the moment are school children, teenagers and hobbyists. MBPJ plans to have the next stretch of bicycle lanes linking the park and Kota Damansara through Jalan Kepong-Kuala Selangor.

As criteria for its development projects, MBPJ will also make bicycle lanes an element to be considered in its planning applications. This is definitely a positive move towards sustainable transport for MBPJ. In promoting an efficient, reasonably-priced and environmentally-friendly transportation system, MBPJ also plans to improve the bus service and proposes to have trams, water taxis and electric trishaws in the city5.

Kuching

In February 2012, the Kuching North City Commission (DBKU) announced its plans to introduce special bicycle lanes in Petra Jaya6 and for a start, only certain routes would have these special lanes. This pilot project will be extended to other parts of the city once it is proven successful in usage and safety. This is a part of DBKU’s Safe City Plan which also includes provision of bicycle parking bays at public transport nodes.

As part of its Local Agenda initiative, the council will also work with police to draw up plans for the bicycle parking bays and bicycle lanes to ensure the safety of cyclists and their properties. This would also enable the city to combat traffic congestion, while promoting the usage of public transport so as to achieve its objective of an environment-friendly city.

Conclusion

We have seen the contrasts and comparison made between bicycle-friendly cities around the world and the relatively few Malaysian examples. What’s clear is a marked contrast between ‘them’ and ‘us’. Whilst the overseas examples show their seriousness in making the bicycle a choice transport mode for work and leisure with complete bicycle infrastructure and integration with other modes of transport, ours is definitely at its infancy and bicycling is mainly for leisure and sports only. Nevertheless, a few local authorities have begun to seriously think of making the bicycle an important component in development projects as in the case of MBPJ, while Putrajaya has already incorporated bicycle lanes in its development, even coming up with cycling packages. DBKU is also following suit, definitely aiming for a more environment-friendly and sustainable means of transportation system.

As for other towns and cities, very little has been reported in the media about planning for bicycles.  Once in a while, we do come across advertisements for housing projects with recreational bicycling as important selling points.

We have all these while actually planned our metropolitan areas based on automobiles and not people. Hence, there are no facilities for cyclists and the cycling culture has almost disappeared in Malaysia. There is a definitely lack of dedicated lanes nor traffic signals for bicycles as provided for in most other cities as indicated in Table 1. However, we have recently started to build back bicycling as an important means of transportation and we are definitely not too late. Well, it’s certainly a great move, isn’t it?

Ref:

  1. Copenhagenize.com is the largest website in the world. The website is currently located in the United States. was created on March 8th, 2008,
  2. www.askmen.com  has been the largest and most trusted source of men’s lifestyle content on the web, earning the loyalty of 19 million readers each month.
  3. The Star, December 11th 2011
  4. The Star, July 16th , 2012
  5. The Star, July 12th,  2012
  6. The Borneo Post, February 20th,2012.

* Please refer to National Physical Plan Division Facebook for a more detailed article (http://www.facebook.com/adminrfn.townplan)

By :
Nazirah Mahmud
National Physical Planning Division
January 2013

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    The #BetterCities List 2013 | Poskod Malaysia said,

    December 27, 2013 @ 10:06 am

    […] More bike lanes in PJ […]

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