Cyclists ride in fear on our highways


Motorcycle and bicycle lanes alone the Federal Highway were recently painted with broken lines for a two-lane road facilitating the smoother flow of slow and fast moving two-wheelers.

THESE past few weeks have been a particularly worrying time for the cycling community after a male cyclist was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident with a car along the LATAR Expressway at night, and a female rider was run over and killed by a lorry at Genting Sempah in broad daylight.

Then came the shocking news of the four para-athletes who suffered broken limbs after being knocked off their bicycles by a pickup truck while they were training on the LATAR Expressway.

It seems the cyclist’s constant public pleas to share the roads with motorists and other road users via road safety campaigns have proved ineffective.

Frustrating as it is, we have to accept the fact that many Malaysian motorists will continue to drive recklessly and with little regard for the safety of other road users who are more vulnerable than them such as motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians.

Cyclists in Malaysia are known to ride along the bike lanes (shared by motorbikes and bicycles) of highways such as Guthrie (GCE), Kesas and even the Federal highway.

The highway concessionaires are fully aware of the dangers posed to cyclists on their highways, and even though the Government has not officially banned cyclists from using the motorcycle lane at Lebuh Raya Shah Alam, Kesas has stated that, “for safety reasons, we do not encourage cyclists to use our motorcycle lane due to the difference in speed between the motorcyclist and cyclist”.

To be fair, some local authorities have provided some safe areas for cyclists in the form of separate bicycle lanes (notably in Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Shah Alam) as well as scheduled car-free days (KL, Shah Alam and Petaling Jaya).

However, according to avid cyclists and those who commute daily on bicycles, more should be invested for a safer and extensive cycling infrastructure for the public such as dedicated bicycle highways (pic) and networks of paths such as those found in Holland, South Korea and Singapore.

Cycling is not just for fun. It should also be seen as an effective mode of transport to reduce our massive traffic jams (by reducing cars on the road).

It’s also worth noting that the biggest issue for LRT or MRT systems worldwide is “the last mile” connectivity from the stations to our homes.

Cycling is an excellent way to get to LRT and MRT stations, especially those stations that have no or limited car parking space.

In the meantime, for cycling enthusiasts it is business as usual and they will not let such devastating news stop them from enjoying the true pleasure of cycling.

For those new riders out there, I can understand if some of you decide to quit cycling altogether due to lack of road safety. To those who want to continue to ride, I would advise you to:

> Ride in a group and wear highly visible outfits;

> Ride in a single file on the far left side of the road;

> Follow all road traffic rules at all times;

> Avoid accident hotspots and road construction sites; and

> Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.

I also believe we should not be cycling in death traps such as highways (which don’t have separate bike lanes) where we clearly do not belong.

Instead, opt for one of our many scenic routes along the quiet and breezy coastal roads or through a rustic kampung with plenty of fresh air.…

GUS GHANI

Kuala Lumpur

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