Wednesday, September 25, 2013

2013 World Car Free Day - Part 2

It should be better organized.. 

We waited a while until the announcer mentioned the last remaining roadies who crossed the finish line.
By the time the Mayor arrived, the ground crew were seen dismantling a mobile arch with the Shimano logo on the road.
As the mad scramble began, leisure cyclists were getting ready to try out the 4km route which was closed to motorists.
I had the opportunity to catch up with some friends who waited for the leisure ride to flag off at Jalan Ampang.
One of them remarked: "What the hell is this la! Racing on a Car Free Day? All the event organizer see is money, money, money.."
Some even condemned the MNCF for the farce.
I saw the race as a means for some roadies to mutually stroke themselves in public. Nothing more than that.. 
Way I see it, City Hall should plan the Car Free Day thoroughly before they implement an open day for cyclists, skaters, and those who intend to walk around the city.
Even the 4km route was poorly managed. Some cars managed to "squeeze" their way onto the bike path.
Nevertheless, we cycled on and actually made two loops before deciding to call it a day.
The turn out was so-so, mediocre compared to the mass cycling events in Penang or recently in Ipoh.
I guess the last-minute planning by City Hall didn't help as the public was unaware of the World Car Free Day.

Man of the hour: KL's Mayor arriving at the scene

Enthusiasm..

The Mayor made his entrance with style, he was swarmed by reporters from the Electronic and print media.
There, he gave a sweeping statement: Car Free Day to be organised on every Sundays and bicycle lanes will be created in the city.
Some cyclists are doubtful of this and a few actually said that if such events are organized on a weekly-basis on the same route, it will be boring and eventually, the cause will run out of steam.

Factual inaccuracy

While the Mayor had laid out his plans, the MNCF was quick to claim credit for the World Car Free Day. They were quoted by the New Straits Times for "initiating" the World Car Free Day event.. The NST's report on the event
For the record: "World Car Free Day" was an effort by the World Car Free Network (WCN) initiated in 2009 with member countries like the UK, Germany, The Russian Federation, France, Spain, Italy and Brazil.
The NST's boo-boo aside, I give credit to the MNCF for organising the Kuala Lumpur Car Free Day which was factually correct as reported in the NST's Street Central Edition earlier.

Cycling down Jalan Ampang with the iconic KLCC in the background

Samo, watching the race from the roadside
The brotherhood of cyclists..

It was reported in the Press that some 600 people attended the ride.
From what I saw, it may be less than projected.
To my surprise, Folding Bike owners made a large turnout at the event.
Some took the train to the city, others drove and parked at the fringe and rode into Jalan Ampang and a handful actually rode from their homes to the event. Kudos!
We rode off towards Jalan Brickfields to enter the Federal Highway motorcycle lane.
But, before that, I led Michelle and Anita into the "Ninja Turtle Route".
This is a simple ride along a 1.8km stretch along the Klang River bank.
I was introduced to this route by Master Urban Cyclist Sin Tai Lim sometime back.

Riding along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman

The Ninja Turtle Route

A mural depicting Malaysia's Founding Fathers

The Gang

Cycling below the city's road level
We saw, we rode, and it's a wrap!

Coming straight out of the sewer, we rode towards the connecting bikeway and made good progress on the Federal Highway's motorbike lane.
At the Jalan 222 interchange, we bade Anita farewell and continued with our journey to Subang Jaya.
It was a smooth ride as we clocked-in more than three hours on the road with a total distance of 61km. This was much shorter than what we did back in January when we rode to the city to join the OCBC Cycle Malaysia 2013 Community Ride.
Michelle and I were satisfied with the ride.
On the whole, Malaysian motorists have a long way to go in lowering the number of vehicles on the road on such a day. 
I guess that with so few bikeways connecting the sub-urban areas to the city, cyclists are put off with the idea of riding from their home to the city centre.
The LRT may provide a good avenue for a multi-modal commute, but restrictions in terms of carrying your bike into the train during peak hours is a damper to the Car Free effort.
What made it worse was the fact that the LRT station staff had refused to allow bikes with their larger auto gates in such times.
All that said and done, let's just hope that the KL City Hall would take some cue in organizing a better Car Free Day event.
And like the few cyclist friends that I met at Jalan Ampang, I don't support organizations that is out to make a quick buck by taking advantage of a Car Free Day with their fancy road race...
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