Everyone has a role to play, say cyclists

PETALING JAYA: It takes a whole-of-society approach to address the issue of youngsters who race or perform stunts on modified bicycles, says the cycling community.They underscored the need for preventive measures so that these cyclists, known as mat lajak, would not go on to become mat rempit (illegal motorcycle racers).

Content creator Ahmad Syakir Sharum (pic), who is an avid cyclist, said that from his observation, many of these youngsters are from less well-off families, while some dropped out of school as early as Form One.

“At this age and with such a family background, they are most vulnerable and easily influenced,” he said.

He said these youths live in an environment that do not offer much to them, so they would go elsewhere to let off steam.

“When they see their friends looking all cool with colourful lajak bicycles, surfing and ‘flying’ on the road, that’s when it all starts.”

Ahmad Syakir, who is behind the Pelan Pelan Kayuh YouTube channel with over 68,000 followers, said everyone has a role to play in addressing this issue.

“Apart from the parents, the government plays the biggest role in developing an economy that offers better income and results in a better living environment.

“The community should reach out to these kids, such as offering them healthier activities such as safer cycling activities and community services.

“And don’t forget to reward them for positive behaviour. Be close to them and mentor them,” he said.

He also said that community leaders could take the initiative to organise cycling activities in a safer environment with adult supervision.

“Give them roles at the surau such as bilal (muezzin) and siak (caretaker). Make them feel useful so that they love to spend time there,” he said.

As for local councillors, he said they should ensure that facilities for these initiatives are available such as the football field and community hall.

Another cycling enthusiast, Ahmad Salleh, who is also the ambassador for the L’Etape by Tour de France cycling event in Malaysia, said society should stop with the labelling.

“Kids being kids, they just want to have fun and their ‘tools’ are their bikes and friends.

“We all had our time of fun with bikes and friends in the past, but also with parenting rules and consent,” he said.

Ahmad also reminded motorists to always have a mindset about “sharing” the road with others, be it cyclists, pedestrians or motorcyclists.

“The blame game can never end if we don’t put ourselves in the other person’s shoes,” he added.

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu said the ministry is looking into approaches to address the issue.

“Cycling has become very popular. We hope the Malaysian National Cycling Federation will find an approach to get these youngsters into serious training and organised competitions.

“The ministry will do its best to assist,” he said when contacted.

He said the ministry will work closely with other ministries and local councils to organise regular car-free events to ensure safety not only for cyclists but runners as well.

This will also put Malaysia as one of the top destinations for sports recreations, he added.

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