Are pedestrian walkways in KL a step in the right direction?

The recent announcement of RM100 million for pedestrian walkways in KL as part of the RM60 billion stimulus package has generated a lot of interest, including these two recent articles in the Star Metro Section as well as articles in the NST Streets section:

Walking back to happiness in KL

DBKL prepared to work with private sector

More covered walkways for the comfort of commuters

The DBKL appears to be committed to the plan, based on a study that originated in the 1970s (and probably has not been updated since).

The idea of creating walkways to facilitate the easy movement of pedestrians captures the imagination and makes it relatively easy to get swept up in the excitement.

Pictures like the one below make people feel that KL is becoming more and more modern

But we have to ask a simple question –

Are skybridges necessary to get people to walk in KL?

Planner Goh Bok Yen seems to think so.

“People generally do not like to walk for more than a thousand metres, especially in our unpredictable weather, but if the walkways are air-conditioned or reasonably comfortable, I am sure many people will be willing to walk more than that distance,’’ he said.

and yet, we know that people in KL walk, especially in the areas that are pedestrian friendly and/or shaded with trees – such as the old city of Kuala Lumpur and areas like Jalan Bukit Bintang.

TRANSIT believes that the skybridges and walkways are not entirely necessary. In fact, we are concerned that the idea is just being used to justify unnecessary construction projects that are cost and energy intensive and will create new sets of problems.

DBKL has built better street-level walkways for the Bukit Bintang, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Little India and Petaling Street areas. The only thing these areas lack is tree cover.

So why is the DBKL obsessed with elevated walkways and sky bridges?

Any urban resident will tell you that the best way to make the streets cooler and more hospitable for pedestrians is to plant large, shady trees and enhance the urban forest, to reduce the number of cars on the road and to make the roadways and walkways universally accessible.

Does the DBKL proposal consider all of this?

The truth is that building concrete and glass walkways (as shown in the first image) will only generate more heat. Air conditioning outdoor areas, as proposed by Goh, is a waste of energy and would actually generate significant amounts of heat – making the city even more inhospitable.

Then there are the issues of planning and maintenance.

Consider the example of Plaza Masjid Jamek, the multi-million Ringgit roof covering over the space linking the Masjid Jamek LRT stations.

Plaza Masjid Jamek has slightly more space and a higher roof and better signage as compared to the previous space. However, connections between the stations have not been enhanced (as you can see from the image above). The covered walkway along Jalan Melaka that connected the two stations has actually been removed!

Then there is the covered 500 m walkway between Dang Wangi LRT and Bukit Nanas Monorail station. I wonder if the champions of skybridges know that the escalators at the skybridge over Jalan Ampang have not been working for more than 1 year. Are they aware that the walkway is unlit at night?

If this is how the DBKL maintains their existing network of walkways, I doubt they will be able to maintain the new ones.

If our goal is to make KL more hospitable, there are better, cheaper, more appealing and more environmentally friendly ways to do it.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Are pedestrian walkways in KL a step in the right direction?”

  1. I don’t quite agree with your analysis. Try crossing the intersection between Jln Sultan Ismail and Jln Bukit Bintang as displayed on the first pic, and you’ll notice it takes ages. They even recently painted a new DIAGONAL zebra on the cross box! Totally useless because the pedestrian light programming hasn’t changed!!

    As long as pedestrians will be considered inferior to cars, any attempt to create a peaceful, pleasant walking area in KL will be doomed.

    Therefore, given the current circumstances, the best solution in my opinion is to build walkways, allowing pedestrians to walk faster and in a safe way and to reduce exposure to gas exhausts.

    Please feel free to elaborate!

    1. Thank you for your comment.

      Our goal is to create a pedestrian-friendly environment in KL. It is not to suggest that elevated walkways are not needed – just that they should not be considered as the only option available.

      In a nutshell, we are trying to prevent a government (the DBKL) from taking the “easy way out” by creating these walkways and trying to isolate and force pedestrians to accommodate the cars.

      For a person who is able-bodied and finds movement easy, this is just an inconvenience – for those who are less able or find movement challenging or uncomfortable, this is an unfair imposition on their lives.

      Sincerely

      Moaz Yusuf Ahmad
      on behalf of TRANSIT

  2. Its now 2010, and there are still no convenient foot paths for pedestrians to ambulate anywhere, city centers and in the residential areas? I would love to be able to walk properly around Kuala Lumpur

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s