Although awareness of environmental concerns brought about by emissions and the need to ease traffic congestion seemed to be on the rise, little efforts to garner public involvement towards solutions have been in place.
The Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) is calling attention to the World Car-Free Day from the public and the authorities.
“This is now a global effort, but so far, Malaysia has never been part of the World Car-Free Day, let alone organise our own car-free days,” said MNCF deputy president Datuk Naim Mohamad.
The World Car-Free Day was initiated in 1994 upon a presentation by the EcoPlan team at the International Accessible Cities Conference in Toledo, Spain.
The project states that car-free days should generally be held on Thursdays as they demonstrate the effects of doing without cars on a regular working day.
This has resulted in cities around the world, even some of the most congested like, Jakarta, adopting the project, either on a once-a-year basis, or with more frequency.
Jakarta holds car-free days on Sundays fortnightly, where a triangular connection of the city’s three busiest roads are closed to motorised vehicles.
Millions of the city’s inhabitants swarm those streets to cycle and jog on those car-free Sundays.
“A car-free day is when people do without cars and find other means of commuting, be it by public transport, bicycles or a combination of the two,” said Naim.
He added that the MNCF had been part of discussions to conduct programmes with the Kuala Lumpur City Hall and other government agencies to promote bicycles as a healthy and environmentally-friendly means of commuting.
“Nothing has been done before, but we can start with this year’s World Car-Free Day. The government, too, has to take notice.”
Naim said the MNCF’s Cycling For All Committee was willing to work with the government and the public to draw up plans to ensure cities were made more conducive for those willing to commute by bicycles.
“The public transport system needs to be more bicycle-friendly.
“We need to find out what the barriers are and propose projects to solve these issues. The public needs to be heard and the government needs to listen.”
The MNCF has monitored the growth in the recreational segment of cycling and believes there is room for such an idea to be developed.
“A number of corporate figures and even politicians are avid cyclists who cycle for fitness,” said Naim.
“We have respected figures who can set the example, but whether they see their bicycle as a suitable mode of commuting remains to be seen.”
Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek will begin his quest to lead by example today, when his entourage rides from his office in Putrajaya to Bukit Jalil, where he will evaluate the progress on the ministry’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house venue.
Read more: KL to go car-free for a day http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles//6cars/Article/#ixzz1Xio4z2zF