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Saturday September 21, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday September 21, 2013 MYT 9:28:55 AM
THE artist Chi Too, 32, sold off his car two years ago and now gets around Kuala Lumpur by bicycle.
“Once you cycle, you realise that KL is actually quite small. It just feels big because we are stuck in traffic all the time,” he says.
“Anywhere in town that is within 15 kilometers is very feasible to cycle. It takes me about 45 minutes to cover that distance.”
“Once you figure out how traffic in the city works, KL is actually very cycleable,” he adds.
Chi Too used to take his folding bike aboard the LRT. However, in 2009, there were some unpleasant episodes when the Prasarana management stopped him from taking his bike up the train and he hit the news when he staged a sit-in at the station with his bike.
Since then, Prasarana has become more open-minded, and folding bikes are allowed during “off peak hours”.
“Since the LRT fiasco, I stopped carrying my bike on the train. I realise nowadays that cycling direct to my destination is often a lot faster than cycling to the station, folding my bike, waiting for the train, riding on the train, getting off the station, unfolding my bike and riding to my final destination.”
Many people tell him that cycling is dangerous.
“People who tell me that have never cycled in the city before and are speaking out of a fear of the unknown. Drivers are actually not as bad as we think they are,” says Chi Too. “If you ride smart, drivers are kinda nice and accommodating.”
One example would be for a cyclist to ride straight when there’s a road exit with cars moving fast.
“A typical cyclist would ride to the exit and then try to cross it directly. But if you’re smart, you’d anticipate the exit 100m before and try to ride out to the lane where traffic goes straight while you are up to speed so you can go straight safely.”
Cycling is a great ice-breaker when he goes for his work meetings.
“When people see me carrying a helmet they’d be like, ‘Did you cycle?’ and of course the first five minutes of the meeting will be about the merits of cycling.
“It’s a good conversation starter. I guess it helps that I don’t have to deal with narrow-minded people who would see my cycling as a problem.”
Chi Too currently works for the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights, an advocacy group also known as Pusat Rakyat Loyarburok.
“My organisation allows me to claim mileage for my bike rides to meetings. It’s equal to that of cars, which is 50 sen per km.”
Does he wish for bicycle lanes?
“Before putting bike lanes, I really think we should ask for well-maintained roads.
“The left side of the road that cyclists are supposed to ride on can also be the most dangerous section because of potholes and drain covers that trap bike wheels.”
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