KL Car Free Day 0501/2014

So I decided to abandon my lovely bed in the early morning and pull myself to the streets for this very day of car-free day. As mentioned earlier on, the KL Mayor has announced that every 7.30-9.30am of the first Sunday of every month shall be car free across a 6km span of the road in the city center. So today’s event revealed on what really happened.

mapDBKL mobilized dozens of personnel to seal off the roads for the convenience of car-free activities. Overall it is a good experience in looking at all walks of lives coming together, be it young or old, or different activities. Good to see roller skaters and also joggers, however, it is obvious that the car-free day has becoming more to a cycling day event instead. Earlier on my hope was on its potential to function just as Penang’s Beach Street Car Free event, which truly promotes social integration.

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Really, Car Free?

The first issue I realized and expected is, there are buses and taxis in the car-free zone, and sometimes there are cars who entered. I cannot help but wonder that the planning itself is a close loop car-free road, where you are stating that no one in the loop can leave the area by car! On the other hand, I felt that the whole car-free aka cycling day (instead) is becoming more like a cycling competition thing, as you have a wide span of car-free road allowing you to sprint. I was expecting a cycling crowd that was more slow pace and enjoying the peaceful scene of the concrete jungle.

DBKL Personnel on Bikes

The essence of ‘green’ commuting by bicycle, which is also commuting to work is to cycle moderately slow and to reap the benefits of pedaling through the vibrant city. However, Sunday has made it hard for a cyclist to really enjoy the city activities. What’s there really to enjoy about when you are cycling through rows of closed shops? Anyway, but it was a fruitful day to notice that DBKL enforcement team has its own bike team!

Cycling Day 5.1Seems that it was started since last October, with 20 personnel involved. Their scope of patrolling are neighborhood area, clear enough as bikes do the job more efficient. Nice MTBs and headlamps and carrier! Am pretty sure that they are proud of their job now! Instant Celebrities haha!

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I am glad that a diversified range of cyclist profile attends, be it the professional bikers, or the auntie uncles, or the Alam Flora street cleaner, or young kids with their scooters. But overall here is my takeaways:

  • This is not Car Free Day, not even Car-Free Hours, but Cycling Hours event instead. I really pity those who came to jog and roller skate, it was so dangerous for them to have cyclist speeding through them. I really wonder if DBKL can assure the safety of all when there are 2000 people speeding through the closed loop.
  • How does this event encourage people to ‘go green’? If I am going to quantify the amount of carbon offset, it is a backfire one instead. So many people travel to the city by cars with their bikes on their carrier, so many tents set up, so many free drinks with waste after that… so commercialize. I am not against, but it really feels that as if cycling is an exclusive activity that needs jerseys, helmets, and gloves to ride on the road. It was such a formal event.

But it was a good start, after all, a first-time event is meant to be one that needs public feedback. It is also great to hear the Mayor’s announcement  that:

He also said that under the ‘River of Life’ project, City Hall was considering providing special lanes to encourage city folk to use the bicycle as a means of transportation in the city.

“We have started identifying bicycle lanes to connect one sector to another in the city. This will be realised soon,” he said.

It’s quite exciting to hear what’s really coming up soon! But most likely it is related to the Longkang road here! The true car-free road!

2014-01-05 09.21.23Thanks to the avid Cycling Kuala Lumpur Group, a grass root effort which surveys all the possible shortcuts for cyclist across KL to encourage day to day commuting. Went down via Dataran Merdeka entry point to visit some graffiti.

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Of course, you wouldn’t want to be here during raining season.

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Indeed a nice hangout space for bikers and artist.2014-01-05 09.35.21 2014-01-05 09.35.25

It’s also a good ride to understand our river better, on how we simply release our sewage without treating them, into the river. You will be surprised by the presence of foreign labors seeking shelters here as well. Just imagine that someone needs to smell your waste every day. Now I am thinking about “River For Life” project and scratching my head on how will the transformation take place.

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Good to see young hearts picking up the 2 wheels too!

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Gotten up from the Longkang from Pasar Seni area!

2014-01-05 09.42.22Will look forward to next month’s ‘car free day’ again then!