DBKL identifies two permanent bicycle lanes in the city

Ready to ride: Car Free Morning events have taken place on the first Sunday of every month this year in Kuala Lumpur.

Ready to ride: Car Free Morning events have taken place on the first Sunday of every month this year in Kuala Lumpur.

TWO permanent cycling routes in the city have been identified by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and they may be open to the public as soon as after Hari Raya.

Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib said one route connected Mid Valley to Masjid Jamek while the other was a city loop.

“We are working on this right now and are fine-tuning the details of the routes including the alignments.

“It may not be possible to build a dedicated bicycle lane but we are looking at other ways to implement this, including placement of signage,” he said in an exclusive interview with StarMetro.

He stressed that the routes had not been finalised and more information would be released at the appropriate time.

Cycling Kuala Lumpur group founder Jeffrey Lim said they had been working with DBKL on this and gone on surveys with them.

“We have provided feedback and information on the routes and we feel encouraged by the authorities’ efforts.

“They are starting off on the right foot and creating interest at the grassroot level,” he said.

The survey conducted on the Mid Valley to Masjid Jamek route, which Lim called the south-west highway, indicated there were a couple of problematic sections.

“It is along the Sungai Klang river reserve that is on the same level with the roads.

“However, this route has certain portions where existing or upcoming projects, such as the River of Life, may complicate attempts to create the route,” he said, adding that the route would connect to the motorcycle lane of Federal Highway near Jalan Syed Putra.

On the other end of this surveyed bicycle route in Masjid Jamek, the path connects to the city loop which Lim said was very complicated.

“I believe creating it on pedestrian walkways is out of the question as it may endanger them, but on the other hand, the roads we surveyed are mainly one-way routes so this has to be considered when coming up with a cycling route,” he said.

There is another possibility of doing a cycling strip along Jalan Ampang that connects to the loop near Dang Wangi.

Lim said these have to be two-way routes for bicycles to be effective.

“There are many of us who have been advocating cycling as a mode of transport and through leading by example, more people are now trying it. Those who already cycle for recreational purposes are usually the ones who are doing this as it is easier for them to make the switch,” he said.

One such person is Sumei Toh, 42, who has been cycling for over 20 years in the city and only got her driving licence last year.

“I did not want to join the car culture as it contributed to the pollution level and I would be in debt. I even chose my job based on its location — a place where I could cycle to.

“Throughout the years, I have adapted to the road changes and development of highways and on the most part, motorists are courteous to me,” she said.

Lim revealed that the Cycling Kuala Lumpur group, which consists of more than 3,500 people and has over 500 people actively contributing to the creation of a Kuala Lumpur cycling guide, had identified other cycling highways that connected major areas.

“This is essential if cycling is to become a mode of transport as people need to get from one area to another and not just within the city.

“The routes connect the city centre to areas such as Jalan Kelang Lama, Cheras, Bandar Tun Razak, Ampang, Wangsa Maju, Batu, Kepong and Segambut,” he said, adding that these covered most of the parliamentary areas.

Lim said the only area they were finding it hard to link to, was in the west which comprised the hilly areas of Kuala Lumpur and bordered Petaling Jaya.

“The roads connecting to the west are mainly toll roads and while cyclists can use them, they are not the preferred routes most will want to take,” he said.

Toh said alternative routes to busy thoroughfares and highways were always preferred as it was a more pleasant experience.

“For instance, areas with trees are always the portions of the paths that I look forward to.

“I can instantly feel the coolness and fresh air compared to cycling among buildings, which is usually quite hot,” she said.

Lim pointed out that while dedicated and separate lanes for bicycles were the first choice, there were challenges in implementing it here, including low demand.

“There are many things that can still be done to improve the situation, including putting upsignage, placing road markings, implementing awareness programmes, changing the road hierarchy and parking facilities,” he said.

He added that he was scheduled to give talks and meet with other city councils and state authorities on cycling projects.

On the matter of the Kuala Lumpur Cycling Guide, which was scheduled for launch on 10 whereby 10,000 guides would be made available at bicycle shops and supporting businesses for free, Lim said there might be delayed but would not elaborate.