The highs and lows of cycling

The highs and lows of cycling

MALAYSIA - Do you know that you can cycle from Kuala Lumpur to Klang?

Cyclists can use a 40km bike lane from Brickfields to the Taman Berkeley roundabout in Klang.

For those living in residential areas such as Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya, Shah Alam and Klang, the bike path provides an uninterrupted link to Kuala Lumpur's city centre.

Most of the lane users are motorcyclists travelling from the city centre to PJ and Klang.

The motorcycle lane, which was originally designed for bicycles when it was implemented in 1974, has a speed limit of 60km/h.

This four-decade old infrastructure was recently spruced up by the Public Works Department.

The bike lanes were redesignated as a dual carriageway for a smoother flow of two-wheelers along the 40km path.

To the uninitiated, a cycling trip from KL to Klang is by no means an easy feat.

There are very few cyclists who use the Federal Highway's bike lane as their main route to enter the city centre from PJ, Shah Alam or even Klang.

They face obstacles such as road debris in the form of metal shrapnel and broken glass.

And those who are inexperienced will have to spend hours mending their punctured tyres.

Despite the shortcomings, several cyclists are brave enough to use the designated lane.

Subang Jaya resident K.H. Loh, 28, who cycles to work daily from his home in SS15 to Jalan Barat, PJ, said the travel time was shorter compared to driving.

"I spend an hour being stuck in a traffic jam.

"After cycling to work for nearly two years, I find it only takes 30 minutes to get to my office," said the accounts executive.

Loh added that the management at his office provides space for bicycles to be stored in a special room and had built a changing room with a shower for employees who cycle to work.

Klang resident Andrew Joseph, 46, who cycles from his home in Bukit Raja to Section 5 in PJ said he used to find it tough cycling along the hills in Shah Alam, but now cycling was his preferred way to commute.

"The only downside about cycling along the Federal Highway bike lane is when you have a breakdown, nobody will stop to help," said the bank employee.

He recalled an incident where both his bicycle tyres were punctured.

"I was cycling home at night when both my tyres had a blowout.

"I pushed the bike from Batu Tiga to the Sungai Rasau toll and was lucky that my neighbour offered a ride home in his car," he recalled.

Another cyclist Danny Tang, 35, who commutes daily from his home in Sungai Way new village in PJ to Bangsar in KL said it took a lot of courage to cycle on the bike lane.

"There were a lot of urban myths circulating on the Internet about the path.

"Scary stories like how cyclists got mugged and beaten up by robbers on motorcyles have put off many from using this infrastructure," said the freelance graphic designer.

Tang tries to cycle there during the day and avoids riding along the bike lane at night.

He also advised those on a long ride to carry enough water and extra food such as energy bars.

Veteran biker Henry Chan, 65, from Petaling Jaya said despite its negative image, the bike lane was very well-maintained.

"You have probably heard horror stories about frequent flooding in the tunnels and potholes.

"Not all the stories are true.

"I've been cycling from my home in SS3 PJ to PJ Old Town where my younger brother lives and the journey has always been smooth.

"However, the roads which link to the bike lane are riddled with potholes," said the retiree.

Chan added that certain stretches such as the Sungai Way, Jalan 223 and Jalan Universiti underpass tunnels are considered danger- ous as there is little room to manoeuvre for fast-moving motorcycles.

"I have had a couple of close calls at the tunnels when motorbikes zip by at speeds above 60km/h.

"You need a jet-fighter pilot's reflexes or you might end up getting hurt," he said.

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