Posts Tagged With: advocacy

Bicycle a viable option

Bicycle a viable option

IN the past month, the Government has announced increases in toll rates and fares for public transport.

In the current economic environment where the value of our currency has taken a battering against the US dollar, the purchasing power of our hard-earned wages has shrunk drastically.

A recent information graphic virally shared on social media shows that the cost of car ownership in Malaysia comes up to RM20,808 a year, or RM1,374 per month. This amount will take a big chunk out of the monthly household income of most families.

With the recent hike in toll rates in the Klang Valley, many will have to fork out a lot more for toll when they drive around.

When the option of using public transport looked like a more economical choice to travel around, the Government then announced the increase in fares for KTM Komuter, LRT and Monorail from Dec 2.

What choices are we left with besides grumbling and blaming the Government?

There is another viable transport option that is free from all these expensive transport options – the bicycle. It is a very cheap and affordable mode of transport that is available to the general population. I have been living car-free in Kuala Lumpur for the past five years, relying solely on the good old self-powered, two-wheeled steel horse.

The bicycle is immune to the changing prices of fuel, toll and parking rates, and traffic congestion during rush hour. I get my daily 30 minutes of physical exercise without spending money and time for gymnasium membership. There are many benefits in switching to a bicycle to get around in the city.

Compared to cars, bicycles take up less space on the road, move more people given the same space, and cost nothing in fuel. Bicycles do not produce harmful gas emissions into the air we breathe or wear out the road surface as cars, trucks and buses do. Investing in bicycle infrastructure in the city would cost 10 times less than roads for motor vehicles.

Everything is not rosy on the safety issue, however. The public, being largely car-driving citizens, know too well the danger of riding a bicycle in traffic. The road safety statistics might reveal that riding a bicycle is actually safer than walking, driving or riding motorcycles, but the fear of being knocked down by motor vehicles is real.

The Government has done very little to promote the use of bicycles as a viable mode of transport.

In our typical car-centric government policy, RM900mil was allocated for the Jalan Tun Razak traffic dispersal project. What if one tenth (RM90mil) of that amount were given to City Hall to build a network of bicycle infrastructure that is safe for everyone to use? More people switching to bicycles would lead to fewer cars on the road, thus alleviating the chronic rush hour traffic jams. Financially, it doesn’t cost RM40bil to build, like our MRT.

When our citizens are ranked the most obese in Asia, riding a bicycle for transport will provide them at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. With cases of diabetes, hypertension, stroke and other ailments related to a sedentary lifestyle ballooning out of control, the Health Ministry should encourage more people to start riding bicycles and recommend that the Government invest financially in bicycle infrastructure.

We can learn from the Netherlands and Denmark, who are continuously investing in bicycle infrastructure because they know that the bicycle is a solution to many problems facing cities around the world.

More people are moving to the city to work and live, and promoting the use of cars is not the solution.

One hundred years of traffic engineering has shown us that if we “make more space for cars, more cars will come.” Betrand Delanoë, the former mayor of Paris, said, “the fact is that cars no longer have a place in the big cities of our time.”

If we seriously want to provide an option for our citizens to ride a bicycle, instead of relying on cars or public transport, the Government must take the lead in promoting the bicycle as a viable and safe mode of transport by allocating more funds to build good bicycle infrastructure.

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As Easy As Riding A Bike | Well it should be, shouldn’t it?

This is an excellent piece on why separated lanes for bicycles are the only way to encourage non- cyclists and recreational cyclists to make cycling their daily urban transportation of choice. Not the nonsense ‘Share The Road’ campaigns run by our ineffective MNCF.

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Momentum: Bicycles are Transit – Linking Cycling, Transit, Planning and People

This is a very good article about how bicycles should be THE mode of transport for the public as the FIRST mile and LAST mile of transit. With bicycle, the public transport is complete, linking door-to-door travel for the public.

It is important that the cities around the world acknowledge the great benefits cycling brings to the city-zens in terms of mobility, and it is not only about environment, traffic congestion and health benefits. Access to mobility in the city brings positive impacts to the business growth, employment opportunities and sustainable city living.

A car centric approach to city planning will stunt economic growth, waste premium city space and make a city less livable. Let’s push for our cities to make space for cycling infrastructure and encourage the city-zens to cycle to improve sustainable city living.

Save for walking trips, no trip involves just one form of transportation. We inevitably shift between two or more methods of travel – by foot, bicycle, bus, train, car – so we must be aware that every mode of transportation is connected and strive to make these connections seamless. A wave of cities around the world have already recognized the need for integrated transportation and the coordinated planning it takes to make this a reality. These cities are changing gears from the one-by-one developments of roads, bike routes and public transit systems to taking a more holistic, connected approach to infrastructure and urban development. The results show that these changes make cities more humane and vibrant – a new form of human-powered city.

Known as the first and last mile, the part of the trip that connects you to the door of your destination poses a problem for transportation planners. Public transit can efficiently transport a large number of people on specific routes, but it can’t connect to every door. Urban planners and transit authorities are considering bicycles as a way to connect the “last mile” in a sustainable way while decreasing overall commuting times.


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Co.Exist: Bikes Aren’t Just Good For You, They’re Good For The Economy, Too

Besides having a positive effect on health and environment, investing in bicycle infrastructure will also have a positive impact on the economy (aka “cyclonomy“).

I think our Federal, State and local governments should seriously look into an alternative view on future investments. Instead of concentrating on investing in car-centric projects or mega rail projects, they should at least give a try, investing in bicycle infrastructure in a township, and see if the results are as good as in the US.

In the future, I love to see more bicycle friendly business districts blossoming all over Klang Valley, and spreading it to other parts of the country.

Penang is on the right track by investing in bicycle lanes, but closing off the heritage area of Georgetown on Sundays is not a good example, as it is right smack in the CBD area, where most shops and establishments are closed on Sundays.

“You can see that in a vibrant business district that there’s a lot of foot traffic and bicycle traffic, and you instinctively understand that it’s really good for business.”

“…found that $1 million invested in bike infrastructure produced 11.4 jobs, against 10 jobs for the same amount invested in pedestrian schemes, and 7.8 jobs for road-only projects.”

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