How Government can promote cycling

To promote cycling and encourage more people to commute by bicycle, the Government can implement policies that benefit cyclists.

The following are some steps that have already been taken in other countries to promote bicycle-friendliness and cyclist safety, which the Malaysian government can also adopt:

Officially Promote Bicycle Use

— CHANGE the current mindset that makes the car the priority. For this, it is necessary to retrain our town planners to work towards integrating bicycles on our roads and highways.

— DISCOURAGE car use among the public. This can be done with legislative measures, such as reducing motorised vehicles’ speed limits. Studies by the municipality of Amsterdam have shown that “push policies” such as discouraging car use are more effective than “pull policies” such as improving bicycle facilities, in increasing bicycle use.

— CONDUCT “share the road” education campaigns to encourage more peaceful coexistence between bicycles and cars.

— ALLOCATE more funds to create a bicycle-friendly transport system here and to make our road conditions conducive for mass cycling, as has been done in other countries.

Set Up Bicycle Facilities

— CREATE bicycle trails (for people to cycle for recreation) and designated street lanes for bicycles (for regular commuters).

— INCLUDE safe bicycle lanes on all new roads and highways.

— INTRODUCE road designs that promote a safe and well-lit environment for cycling. This should include traffic-calming measures to reduce automobile speeds.

— MODIFY existing road curbs to accommodate bicycle-pedestrian paths. (Cycle paths are so much cheaper to build and maintain than roads that some cities have gone to extremes to promote them. Copenhagen, for example, provides a fleet of free bicycles for its city folk’s use.)

— DESIGN bicycle route maps, once proper bicycle paths are in place.

— HAVE clear bicycle signage (eg: eye-catching green vinyl markers) on all bicycle routes, and at vital road intersections.

— PROVIDE safe, convenient and cheap (or even free) bicycle parking spaces for cyclists. One of the easiest and quickest investments is the simple bicycle rack, either randomly scattered in small units (as in Paris), or centralised in large parking lots (as in many Dutch, German and Chinese cities).

Ensure Cycling Is Safe

— PROTECT cyclists’ safety. This can be done, for example, by restricting the use of motorised vehicles on the road during peak hours. One way is via tax. For example, since central London’s implementation of a congestion tax in 2003, bicycle and motorcycle traffic have increased by 15%, while accidents involving cyclists have fallen by 8%.

— DRAW up laws to protect cyclists from bigger and heavier vehicles on the road. In the Netherlands and Denmark, 2 countries in the world that have come closest to restoring the bicycle to its pre-auto role, cyclists are protected by an extensive legal framework and are fully recognised users of the road.

— ORGANISE a bicycle helmet safety campaign and create relevant laws similar to what have been done for motorcycle helmet safety, to protect cyclists. To ride a bicycle is not free of risk, any more than other modes of transport are free of risk. Appropriate headgear is important as bicycle riders who go without head protection are roughly 3 times more likely to suffer head injuries in a crash than those who wear a helmet. A cyclist who sustains a head injury is also some 20 times more likely to die than a rider who suffers other kinds of injury.