WHILE many want to practise an eco-friendly lifestyle and may even go to the extent of consuming only organic food, the majority still prefer to drive right up to the proverbial doorstep of their destination instead of taking public transport, cycling or walking.
To cultivate a society that will opt for more environmentally-friendly transportation modes, the Centre for Environment, Technology, and Development Malaysia (Cetdem) and the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) are working towards converting the Taman Jaya recreational park into an eco-mobility park.
Cetdem executive director Anthony Tan explained that eco-mobility meant an integrated form of environmentally sustainable mobility.
“It is a combination of non-motorised means of transport such as walking and cycling, besides using other means of public transport.
“It is also the ability to commute in the local environment without using private vehicles.
“The ideal public transportation would be trains and ferries,” he said.
The pilot project, called EcoMobility For My Community – PJ-Eco Mobility, began in August last year.
It is aimed at encouraging the public visiting parks to come via an eco-friendly mode of transportation such as walking, cycling or via the LRT.
Cetdem applied and was granted RM50,000 by the United Nations Development Programme under the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (UNDP-GEF).
Established in 1992, the GEF Small Grants Programme provides financial and technical support to projects that conserve and restore the environment while enhancing the public’s well-being and livelihood.
The programme demonstrates that community action can maintain the fine balance between human needs and environmental imperatives.
In addition to the fund, MBPJ will contribute RM100,000 for the project, which is expected to be completed in September this year.
The Taman Jaya park will be connected to neighbouring areas such as Section 5, 9 and 10 via walkways. Bicycle paths will be built, connecting the park and the neighbouring areas.
“Mobility within just the park is not good enough. We want to encourage wider use of non-motorised vehicles. Based on our survey, some people take the LRT from Bangsar to the Taman Jaya station to visit the park while others take the bus from Taman Datuk Haron.
“We would now like to connect areas such as Jalan Gasing to Taman Jaya. Jalan Gasing has schools and places of worship.
“Connecting roads will be built so that residents from the Jalan Gasing area can walk or cycle safely to the Taman Jaya park or the Taman Jaya LRT station,” said Tan.
Cetdem and MBPJ had embarked on the eco-mobility project by briefing and gathering input from stakeholders including Taman Jaya park visitors, nearby residents, business proprietors and operators of public transportation and business operators.
This will be followed by the design stage, which will incorporate eco-mobility features both on land and lake.
“A ground survey is being done to map the terrain and existing trees as well as facilities in the park and the surrounding neighbourhood. Feedback was gathered from some 1,000 people,” said Tan.
“The major landscaping process will be undertaken by MBPJ. The pavements in the park will be maximised to connect not just within the park but also to the surrounding neighbourhood and the LRT station,” he elaborated.
Towards the end of the project, Cetdem will carry out another survey to note the changes in the utilisation of the eco-mobile park and look at ways to improve the understanding of eco-mobility.
Cetdem hopes the final stage of the project will see the launch of the park and a one-day conference on eco-mobility targeting non-governmental organisations and local council representatives.
The project hopes to be a model for some eight other parks in the city.
While Cetdem provides the technical support to develop the educational materials and manage the project activities, MBPJ will provide technical and infrastructure support.
MBPJ Solid Waste Management Public Cleansing Department Lee Lih Shyan said eco-mobility was an alternative to motorised modes of transport.
“We want to start with a eco-mobility park and expand to eco-mobility neighbourhood. When the park has an increase of visitors, it will be a much safer place. This will be in line with the Safe City programme,” he said.
He said among the benefits of this project was making the park barrier-free, reducing crime and encouraging more people to visit the park.
“We must all work towards reducing carbon emission by changing our mode of transport to non-carbon based such as cycling and walking.
“If this park becomes a success, we will do the same with other parks in the city. Eventually more parks will be connected to neighbourhoods,” he said.
He also urged more NGOs and resident groups to step up in doing their part for the environment.
MBPJ will also introduce eco-friendly vehicles such as eco-taxis and boats in the park.