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Sunday January 30, 2011

Make cycling a way of life

IT is welcome news for road users to hear of Putrajaya advocating cycling. But there are some real dangers facing cyclists that need to be addressed. It is a sheer nightmare for cyclists to share roads with cars, trucks, bulldozers, lorries and buses.

In the name of road safety, we must convert lanes for vehicles in prominent streets of the city into dedicated, independent bicycle paths.

This move will encourage the general use of bicycles and pave the way to making cycling a healthy, lawful and practical means of travel, eliminating car dependency, and noise and carbon dioxide pollution. It will also foster a richer urban way of life. The Netherlands, for instance, has a bicycle plan that includes segregated lanes for all roads above certain speeds and volume of traffic.

Should helmets be made compulsory for cyclists? In countries where helmets are not compulsory, it has been observed that cyclists tend not to put them on when commuting in slow-moving city scenarios, but nevertheless do so for higher-speed recreational cycling. I feel that helmet-wearing for cyclists should be optional.

It is fascinating that in the Netherlands, Denmark and northern European countries, the majority of cyclists are women. Women cyclists seem to be the catalyst for positive promotion of this mode of transport.

There must also be a change in attitude in drivers and cyclists to make cycling a forceful culture in our society. But until there is a proper, designated bicycle lane infrastructure, on-road cycling will remain an exception rather than the norm, let alone be promoted as a healthy transport choice.

Dr A. SOORIAN,

Seremban.

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