THE 11km bicycle lane in the Kuala Lumpur city centre is still blocked by traffic, more than a month after it first appeared.
Checks by Cars, Bikes and Trucks revealed a familiar sight of cars and other vehicles parked in the blue lane.
Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) acting director-general Dr Siti Zaharah Ishak said strict enforcement was needed to deter illegal parking as well as loading and unloading activities in the lane.
“Alternatively, the bicycle lane can be re-routed to less dense areas.”
Despite criticisms, Siti Zaharah said it gave confidence to people to cycle in the city.
“Cyclists generally fall under the category of vulnerable road users (VRU). The separation of cyclists from the main traffic is intended to reduce the risk of them being hit by other larger vehicles.
“The safety aspect of all road users has always been the main concern for Miros. Based on road crash statistics, those under the VRU group have the highest percentage fatalities, representing 72 per cent of the overall fatalities and 73 per cent of the overall casualties yearly.”
She said further studies on the bicycle lane should be considered.
“Long-term behaviour needs to be studied to determine if the bicycle lane serves its purpose to promote a safe and comfortable riding experience.
“Further studies on matters such as utilisation and satisfaction of the lane, junction treatment for bicycle lane and durability of the bicycle lane surface materials, should be conducted.”
The bright blue lane stretches in a closed loop along Jalan Raja, Jalan Raja Laut, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Jalan P. Ramlee, Jalan Ampang, Jalan Pinang, Jalan Perak, Jalan Raja Chulan, Jalan Gereja, Jalan Tun H.S. Lee and Lebuh Pasar Besar.
Road User Association chairman Mohammad Hisham Shafie said further studies should have been done before the developer installed the lane.
“The developer should have consulted road users and cyclists, for example, before implementing the project,” he said.
Hisham conceded that the health and environmental benefits of cycling were significant but the safety of cyclists should also be considered.
“The bicycle lane, which is constructed on the emergency lane, is dangerous because motorists do not have enough space to make an emergency stop,” he said.
It was reported that the RM4 million project by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall was done in conjunction with the 9th World Urban Forum.
“Getting the bicycle lane done in haste before a specific event without thinking of the many factors, such as safety and built environment characteristics, is the reason why the lane poses a danger to cyclists and motorists,” said Hisham.
Cycling activist Jeffrey Lim, who advised on the development of the bicycle lane, said despite the physical barriers, motorcyclists were still seen swerving in and out of the lanes.
“Bad user behaviour is the issue.”
Professional cyclist Nurkhairunnisatul Aina said the implementation of the bicycle lane was a good start as Malaysians were moving towards embracing a healthier lifestyle.
“However, in the busy city centre, it is advisable to install the orange bollards which help to separate the bicycle lane from motorised vehicles,” she said.
Bank Islam chief operating officer Iran Moriff, who has been cycling to work for five years, welcomes the bicycle lane as a means “to incentivise or make it easier for people to accept the idea of cycling to work”.
But he added that the bicycle lane would be of no use if it was abused by irresponsible motorists.