The PJ Cycleways City Network is the brainchild of MBPJ, in line with the city’s transport strategy that hinges on the Special Area Plan and the Local Agenda 21. The 56 kilometers of dedicated bicycle lanes as part of its effort to reduce traffic pollution and promote environmentally friendly transport in the city. Source. This project was initiated since 2012, and currently, 2 pilot projects are done, namely Damansara Damai and Ara Damansara. While I am not aware nor involve in the early stage public feedback group discussion, I am, very concern on the aim of such infrastructure if we want to brag this as a great green initiative.
Suzana Othman, the town planning office of MBPJ; “The main objective is to join up the parks within PJ. At first, we thought of encouraging cyclists to commute to work, but then we wondered whether it would work with our hot weather. So we decided to focus on cycling for recreation first.” Source.
I really do hope to find more details on the methodology for such project planning, unfortunately, I couldn’t trace much from the web. But it is not hard to see if one’s bicycle plan is for leisure or commuting. My first impression at looking at the masterplan instantly reminds me of Park Connector Network, Singapore, which to my observation, it was not designed for daily commuting, but merely leisure riding by joining up the green and waterfront areas. But I have tried PCN and have to say that they are quite successfully implemented by considering various details to the very critical aspect.
Anyways so I took a ride to Ara Damansara to check out the ‘bike lanes’ since a few weeks ago I have seen that they are laying down the paints. There is really nothing major being done actually, it’s not to the expectation of painting a whole stretch of blue lane to demarcate bicycle lane, but merely at intersections/junctions, and ensuring safe gradient at intersection points.
I think the fact is that the planning of Ara Damansara already has a pedestrian walkway buffer along the road (knew it as I cycled there before this started) and I personally think what the project does is to ensure there’s a seamless connection for a ‘guna Sama’ path, means mixed pedestrian and bicycle but not really sure to where, as i only know the edge of it is towards Tropicana. And yes as it was mentioned again, it’s just a pilot one before the 56km connects altogether.
Defining HOW a bike lane should work.
But yes, mind me being a critic here as I just couldn’t stand with the definition of bike lane here it seems. Mind you as well that I am not sure if the pilot project is already completed/commissioned or still in progress. I took a quick 5 minutes walk and saw some inconvenient signs. The pathway that is merely 1-meter width and not entirely even and clean. It’s surprising as it is not even a month after and the bike path signages are damaged, and the premix marking paint seems to fade off a little.
While some portion of the bicycle lane does not seem welcoming to me. Why would I want to bike on a bicycle lane that is curving around avoiding trees and infra works when I can cycle straight on the road? Furthermore, the car road is cleaner compared to the ‘bike lanes’ that are needed to be maintained regularly. The pictures below show clearly on some lanes that pose a great danger to cyclist during wet condition.. muddy track.. and also leafs that could lose your grip.
Bike Lane Common Sense
Another worrying aspect is the bus stop. Typically, the bike lane will go to the bus stop to avoid any collision with the bus or bus users, but in Ara Damansara, it seems that the bike lane is directed into the bus stop lane, and up to the bike lane again, which to me, doesn’t make any sense. (Didn’t able to take picture).
Another worrying aspect is no traffic calmers to warn incoming cars on the bike lanes ahead. There shall be speed hump or other similar measures to control the speed limit of the incoming vehicles. What I observed was that these cars are turning in with >30km/h speed, and in most cases, there is no clear direct sight to where the cyclist position is. This is dangerous.
Bike lanes for Low-Density Development, Really?
But aside from all these basic observations, the bigger picture again is, why are these bike lanes built? Is it really for commuting purpose or leisure purpose? And while it is too early to say on commuting as the entire 56km master plan is not completed yet, as this pilot project only stops as far as Tropicana (as much I can trace), my guts just leads to a simple question.
Will someone in Ara Damansara cycle to Citta Mall for their shopping rather than driving?
The essence of good neighborhood planning is one that can approach neighborhood malls without getting into your steel box. And in this aspect, it does not seem to me. The problem in most low-density neighborhood development is that their walk score often gets low, as the accessibility to the surrounding amenities is limited due to the mono usage of land plots, rather than integrated development. That’s why bike lanes are really more practical in high-density urban context.
But yes speaking of Citta Mall, it’s one of the few shopping malls that made sense to me finally, a simple bicycle parking place. Ah! Located in open space and well observed by the security guards. Compared to Paradigm Mall which asked me to park at the basement with the motorcycles.. with no rails to lock on.
But by speaking of ‘sustainable development’ and ‘green buildings’ this reminded me of how some green building guidelines put it mandatory that residential tower and office tower should have sufficient secured bicycle parking as well as shower room! In which I am foreseeing Ara Greens, a new development in Ara Damansara currently constructing, will have bicycle parking as it is a Green Mark Gold certification project.
And just another random picture of my Brommie!
But nevertheless, it’s a good initiative to have the bicycle lanes finally on the plan, the only thing is, someone just needs to use it to keep the discussion going on, and yes people will choose to use it if the push and pull factor happens at the right time. There are only 2 things daily biking commuter look at, Speed and Security. Without any of these, no one would use, as simple as that. Let’s hope for the best!
Some great article write up!