PETALING JAYA: Joint efforts from various parties are needed to curb the "basikal lajak" (modified bicycles) menace, says Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros).
These bicycles are ridden by mat lajak (youngsters who race or perform stunts on the modified bikes).
Miros director-general Dr Siti Zaharah Ishak said the institute classified the activity as being high-risk and reminded parents to be mindful of their children's hobbies.
"Other than relying on authorities to carry our checks and enforcement, parents also need to ensure that children do not get themselves involved in the activity.
"We understand children need to channel their creativity but not at the cost of their lives or public safety," she said in a statement on Friday (Nov 8).
Siti Zaharah added she was concerned that youngsters would likely be drawn to the thrill of a high-speed bicycle ride during the coming school holidays, adding that such youths have become a normal sight on highways and main roads.
She said while the police and the Road Transport Department have pledged stricter enforcement to address the risky activity, such enforcement can be stronger with the help of local authorities.
Siti Zaharah also said that the the Women, Family and Community and the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministries can also help keep "basikal Lajak" enthusiasts off the road by ensuring that all bicycles in the market meet safety specifications and raising higher awareness about the dangers of such bicycles.
"NGOs and resident's associations can also rally together to stop it and immediately report any 'basikal lajak' activities in their area," she said.
She also called for the activity to be banned to further minimise the risk of road accidents and for heavier penalties to be imposed on bicycle manufacturers or workshops that illegally modify bicycles to the requirements of enthusiasts.
The "basikal lajak" issue was raised after sales girl Sam Ke Ting was acquitted and discharged by a court in Johor for reckless driving in an accident that killed eight cyclists in 2017 who were riding modified bicycles.
In her judgment, Magistrate Siti Hajar Ali said the decision was based on a number of factors including the dark and winding road where the accident occurred; the fact that the driver could not have predicted the presence of the cyclists at 3am; and the danger posed by the cyclists using modified bicycles.
Investigations also found Sam was wearing a seatbelt and was not under the influence of alcohol nor using a handphone when she was driving.