Thursday, December 6, 2012

A bicycle lane for KL's city centre?

Ah, the glorious past!
In this day and age, most of us city dwellers have departed from the bicycling culture.
I can recall the 70s, 80s and 90s where I used to cycle from my neighbourhood in Setapak to Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.
My family ran a business at the Chow Kit wet market.
There, I used to park my Raleigh road bike before heading off to school.
Now, fast-forward, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman is one of the most dangerous places to cycle.
The existing road, right down from the early 1900s to present, has been widened to accommodate light and heavy vehicles.
When you have a four-lane road, traffic can be chaotic.
As a cyclist, one would have to share the road with cars, taxis and buses.

A cyclist's nightmare: The traffic in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman
Just to please a few fellas on bicycle..
Well, there I was, a Johnny Ng's bike shop. I dropped off a signed-copy of my book as well as a team Starmetro jersey as a token of my appreciation to the man.
Right in the middle of our conversation, this guy blurted out: "Aiya, we should have bicycle lanes in the city centre la!"
I guess he didn't took it too kindly to my reaction.
I told him that bicycle lanes are not practical in the city centre unless:
  • The Government imposes road pricing for all vehicles entering Central Business Districts with the exception for public transport.
  • Bans passenger car from entering the city.
  • Creates a 'Green zone' where zero emission transport like bicycles are allowed and Increases the price of vehicles to a certain extent, it costs a bomb to buy a car.
Reality check..
But we know all that won't happen.
Creating a bicycle lane is just a mutual masturbation fantasy for the elite few with their expensive bikes.
The 'real' bicycling commuters are the Bangladeshis and their cheap bikes.
In short, its not practical to cycle in the city anymore.

I guess the guy who blurted out about cycling lanes have had the faintest clue about multi-modal commuting.
Transit companies like Prasarana had encouraged bicyclists to utilize their rail service during off peak hours.
They tried this with the "Prasarana Car-Free Day" and well, it was just a publicity stunt.
Truth to be told, commuting and cycling would be the solution for people to get around the city centre.
So, moral of the story? "Never carry a knife to a gunfight.."
When you shoot off your mouth, better be prepared to back up your statements with facts. This so that you don't end up looking like a fool.



Anonymous said...

Cycling is about choice. It is never about denying other's indulgence in burning carbon. Your 3 proposals are just ways to discourage the use of private vehicles, not necessary to encourage cycling as means of transport nor building bicycle lanes.

We should educate the stake holders of the benefits of choosing to bike as means of transport instead of casting a bleak future for car ownership. It's never about either you or me.

A four-lane Jalan TAR is a wonderful choice to introduce bicycle lane in KL. Why do cars need so many lanes for? It is not an expressway. One for bikes, one for bus, two for cars. Excellent. Our roads infrastructure are too car centric already.

We should not make car ownership too expensive like Singapore. However making cost of using cars expensive is the way forward by taxing fuel, ERP, slowing speeds of cars on the road, reduce public and private parking lots, etc.

goBetong said...

Samso, I beg to disagree. Cylcing within KL will be popular if the power that be is supportive to provide the necessary infrastructure (i.e. dedicated bicycle lanes) and when it is safe. This is proven in the 'Bicycle sharing system' in Barcelona, Toulouse, Lyon, Paris,Stockholm, Oslo, and Zaragoza among others where exist forward thinking legislators who see the needs.