It was early in the morning, but already a huge crowd had gathered. Men, women, children, even a few paraplegics, thronged the grounds of the 3K Sports Complex in Subang Jaya, Selangor.
The 352 persons who had turned up had one thing in common – they were all cyclists. And they had come to pay tribute to a fellow cyclist, Shamsul Aizat Mohd Basar, who was killed in an accident on the nearby Kesas Highway on Dec 24, 2015. He had been knocked down by a car from behind while he was cycling, and died on the way to the hospital.
The event was called the Ride Of Honour and most participants were dressed in white as a sign of respect for the deceased. According to “Kesas Campaign for safety” chairman Dave Ern, the ride had three other goals:
- To raise funds for the late cyclist’s widow and four children
- To appeal to the authorities to make the Subang-USJ bike path (which runs parallel to the Kesas highway) safer for all cyclists
- To boost safety awareness for all Kesas road users – cyclists, motorcyclists and car drivers – to share the road.
The Kesas Campaign currently has 3,350 supporters, he added. After the participants had registered, collected their bibs, and added to the signature campaign, there was a route and safety briefing.
We were then flagged off by Persatuan Berbasikal Masters Malaysia president Shaharudin Jaffar. Riders on all types of bicycles – folding bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes, even trikes (three-wheelers) – surged forward in an orderly manner. Even though I could have gone in the media truck, I decided to ride along to get a first-hand experience of the route. It was a very well-organised ride with ride leaders, mid-and-back sweepers, police outriders to help with the traffic, support vehicles, and even an ambulance.
For most of the ride, we were cycling on the bike lanes. During this event, police outriders had cleared most of the route so it was free of other vehicles, but cyclists who take this route on regular days would actually have to share it with motorcyclists. And there are parts of the route and intersections where they would also have to share the road with cars and lorries.
There was a large crowd and the average speed was 15km/h, out of respect for Shamsul Aizat. I decided to stick around near the back of the group at a leisurely pace and paused several times to take photos.
Since I usually cycle on relatively car-free kampung roads and in parks, it was actually quite unnerving when huge vehicles passed by at certain stretches of the highway where there were no bike lanes, such as at traffic lights when we had to make turns.
The 22km+ route involved some mild climbing. On the way back, we paused to regroup near the place where the fateful accident occurred. The spot was marked with a Malaysian flag.
When we arrived at the finishing point back at the sports complex, we gathered at the field next door for a group photo. Kelana Jaya Member of Parliament Wong Chen, Selangor State Exco Ean Yong Hian Wah (who is also an avid cyclist), Ern and Shaharudin Jaffar were among those who addressed the crowd.
According to Wong, cycling signages will be put up along the route to remind motorists to share the road. After that, emcee Patrick Teoh (also a keen cyclist) encouraged the participants to donate funds for the late cyclist’s widow and kids.
Sahrul Nizim Mohd Yatim, a childhood friend of the late cyclist, said that they used to cycle together in a team called the Sentosa Riders.
“Shamsul Aizat was like a big brother to us. He would always advise us on healthy lifestyles, such as how to maintain fitness levels and our diet,” he recalled.
“Taking part in this Ride of Honour is just my small tribute to someone I call abang (big brother). I also hope to help raise funds for his widow and kids.”
Hamizun Mohd Basar, the late cyclist’s elder sister, said between tears: “It was his first time cycling on this highway ... and his last.” She added that this Ride of Honour would help highlight the importance of safer cycling routes, hopefully, even at the level of Parliament.
One of the participants, Chan Hui Min said: “It’s good to see the big turnout and to know that Shamsul Aizat did not die in vain as this ride will create more awareness about cycling safety. It’s very heartwarming to see all cyclists who didn’t even know him come together to show solidarity and support this cause.”
Sin Tai Lim, a veteran cyclist taking part in the ride, underlined, “It is good to educate car drivers and cyclists on sharing the road. We need to understand and respect each other on the road to avoid unnecessary deaths or accidents.”
He added, “Now that cycling is getting more popular and the number of cyclists is increasing, we need more of such road safety campaigns.”
Ride leader SK Yeong said: “Events such as the Ride of Honour will help bring greater awareness for cyclists to ride safe. This must be our utmost priority each time we venture out on a bicycle.”