Monday, September 23, 2013

Kuala Lumpur : World Car Free Day 2013 - The Event

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Kuala Lumpur : World Car Free Day 2013 Event
Cyclists group photo at Capital Square, Kuala Lumpur.
Kuala Lumpur : 22nd September 2013
Public Large Group Ride : Jalan Ampang>Jalan Sultan Ismail>Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman>Jalan Dang Wangi>Jalan Ampang
Distance per loop : 2.5 km.
Time : 6:30 am pm 11:00 am (Road Closure Time)


When the Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (City Hall ) announced that it will be closing some key roads in the city centre in support of World Car Free Day, the cycling community was abuzz with excitement. This will be the first time that Kuala Lumpur  will adopt this concept. It is a good one that hopes to cut down people's reliance on cars. The hope is that through the experience of that day, many will try not to use their cars as much as possible. Through this the carbon footprint on our poor Mother Earth should be reduced.

On seeing the press announcement of this event, my friend Tailim (of the hApPy HaPpy blogs) created an event for us cyclist to ride out and support the Datuk Bandar (Mayor) of Kuala Lumpur in his efforts. More than fifty cyclist showed interest to come. But Tailim's event was one of many created on Face Book, there were other groups having their own event like those from GW Cycle, the Putrajaya Urban Riders, etc. On the day itself, when we regrouped at Capital Square, there were more than a hundred of us.

I was most amazed by how my fellow cyclists took the concept of being totally car-free for the day seriously. On the days before the event, there were a lot of chatter in Face Book on not using cars for that day. Many will cycle all the way from their homes to the city. Others will take the train part of the way and cycle the rest of the way.
Out of curiosity  I plotted a map based on individual cyclist's routes into the city. From Subang Jaya, Petaling Jaya, Ampang, Cheras, Gombak, Kajang, etc. they will come without their cars.
Fired up by their enthusiasm, I followed likewise. I rode from my house to the Kelana Jaya LRT Station, where a few friends & me boarded the train with our folded bicycles for the train ride down to the Bangsar Station. Meeting with another group there, we cycled down to the city centre.
The map is shown above, blue is the cycling routes, and green the train ride routes. It looks like a spider web with many lines connected to the centre. It is a good analogy  many coming together to support a common good cause.


Cycle route of Datuk Bandar Kuala Lumpur World Car Free Day 2013 ride.
On the day itself, the Datuk Bandar himself will lead by example and will cycle with us on a ride round the closed roads area. It was not a very long route but more important is that someone of importance will have a car-free experience. Someone of authority will see that many support this concept.
The Mayor's ride route may only be short one; but the tale of how we cyclist physically came to the city is a long one. It's a tale of how we came from different corners of the Klang Valley to support his noble cause.

From Bangsar, close to ten of us cycled to a coffee-shop in Brickfields where we joined another group for breakfast. Now there were almost twenty of us.

Stopping for a short break at the Majestic Hotel, we were surprised to see some friends cycling by. These were the GW Cycle group of thirty cyclists who had cycled all the way from Kota Kemuning. They turned in to join us for a break too.

We rode over to the designated meet point at Capital Square, there another large group of cyclists were already waiting for us. Amongst them were the Putrajaya Urban Riders who had come from Putrajaya. Our increased numbers included the young and the old, and people from different backgrounds - this is truly 1Malaysia.
We were there waiting for another big group to join us, they were running a bit late.

It was with a feeling of heart-warming euphoria when we saw Tailim leading them in from the Jalan Raja Abdullah junction opposite us. This group of close to forty had assembled at the other designated meet point in Titiwangsa. they too had come car-free from many places to meet at Tasik Titiwangsa.

Mayor's Cup Bike Racers in Kuala Lumpur during World Car Free Day 2013 
While the Mayor's Cup cycling race was ongoing; we took the time to mingle and chat. Old friends caught up with each others and new friendships were made too.

Our group, more or less complete, cycled over to Capital Square for memorable group photo. There were so many of us that Kwan had to take a panoramic photo to get everyone in.

We are now at the start point of the Mayor's Ride, nearby the Dang Wangi LRT Station. There the Datuk Bandar and his officers were busy talking to the press, etc. He is also a very sporting person, letting as many people as possible to have their photos taken with him.

He even managed some time to talk with me. We chatted about the possibility of making the Car Free Day a more regular event. I suggested to him that having it monthly will be great, and if weekly will be even more fantastic. But I guess he already knows that.
Organizing such an event takes a lot effort in planning and executing; a lot of personnel were involved to ensure that all went on smoothly and safely.

Making it a more regular event will also mean non-participants will have to sacrifice in not being able to drive into the closed-off area. Perhaps they could do what many of us do: have fold-able bicycles in the car boot, ready to be unfolded and ridden into car-free zones.

With the Datuk Bandar leading, we took a ride round the car-free roads.
It's a great care-free car-free day!

Many thanks to the Mayor and the City Hall of Kuala Lumpur, to the police, the volunteers and many others who have made this into a grand event.
Many came to support this day, for more see "Kuala Lumpur :World Car Free Day 2013 - The People".
To view a YouTube video by our cycling buddy Sunny CLICK HERE.

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