Electric bikes: perfect answer to ‘first mile’ transit

NST ran three letters on electric bikes today.

Electric bicycles: Safety issue under study
Electric bicycles: It’s not dangerous

Electric bicycles
2011/04/14
DATUK NAIM MOHAMAD, Deputy president Malaysian National Cycling Federation, Kuala Lumpur

THERE has been much debate about electric bicycles recently.

The Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) plans to hold a special session with the chairman of MNCF’s technical committee on the issue on April 17.

TRANSIT: The map of the venue can be found here.

Those who are interested in discussing the issue, including representatives of the transport and energy, green technology and water ministries, are welcome to attend.

Industry players, manufacturers, suppliers and users are most welcome to give their input.

It will be held between 10am and 11am at the Olympic Council of Malaysia in Jalan Hang Jebat, Kuala Lumpur.

We plan to forward the views expressed to the government for consideration.

TRANSIT Says:

We believe current circuitous local and feeder bus routes will be made simpler with the availability of bicycle lanes and electric bikes for folks in many residential areas. On top of that, with traffic calming measures and pedestrian-friendly suburban road layouts (that allow greater pedestrian accessibility, connectivity and convenience), residents in deeper and sparser neighbourhoods can find bicycles as the most convenient way to get to the nearest bus stops or transit stations.

Besides the low carbon footprint, bicycles can work on tight areas, where lane expansion for cars is impossible. Density and plot ratio can be increased when traffic planners take into account non-motorized transport as means to get around places. (planetgreen.discovery.com)

Bicycle racks on buses and taxis are another way to encourage the use of multi-modal travel. Singapore’s Land Transport Authority has published a guideline on users who would want to join in the “Fold it and Ride it” crowd.

A bike rack mounted at the front of a bus is used by a cyclist/public transport user. Image courtesy of Christopher Porter.
Folding bikes can be safely secured on top of the wheel wells.(from JZ88 folding bike blog)
Komuter and LRT services can even consider to take in folding bikes during non-peaks since they take less space. (Photo on folding bike size limit for Singapore's MRT)
Boot-mounted bicycle rack on a taxi in Taipei, Taiwan. Taiwan also has a cycle-sharing system in Taipei & Kaohsiung. Image courtesy of bikehugger.com.

And yes, the boot of the taxi above can open.

NOTE: For information on Asia’s first cycle-sharing program (in Taipei & Kaohsiung, Taiwan), see this article in Time Magazine or this post in Bikehugger.com

Conclusion:

When buses don’t have to go deeper into neighborhoods (due to pedestrian and bike connectivity), services can be made faster, more frequent and more reliable.

But local councils must play a greater role in planning for pedestrians and cyclists, especially in providing traffic speed and parking restraint measures (no one wants to walk or cycle when the perceived danger of being overrun by unexpected motorists is there).

Imagine, the 10-mins walking requirement that planners always put to calculate direct catchment of commuters around any particular transit nodes (whether bus or rail) can be expanded with bike lanes. Since a leisurely cycling effort can cover as much as three times the distance as fast walking, hey, even non-electric bikes can be the perfect answer to solve the glaring “1st mile” connectivity problem.

Bikes can really solve the last mile connectivity problem with proper channelization of pedestrian and vehicle right of ways. Metro = Rapid Transit (LRT/BRT), Bus = feeder and local circulators (with transit priority)

The issue JKJR is handling is mainly on compatibility of bike speeds with other motor vehicles. What they can do is at least legislate a conversion in bylaws that strictly enforce 40km/h on streets classified as access roads and secondary collector/distributor roads, and allow/encourage motorized and non-motorized bicycles to be used on these types of roads.

Oh wait, our road network system is messed up. Badly messed up. Fast moving traffic interweave with slow vehicles on many sections of our arterials and expressways (rather, traffic should gradually move from arterial to primary collector/distributor to local access roads), and jams are overspilling to residential areas. That’s why local councils should be proactive and work with JKJR and JKR to revamp their local road access management (that allows safer spaces for pedestrian and non-motorized transport).

And that’s why public transport users, cyclists and pedestrians need to speak up in favour of well-planned cities, towns and communities.

Remember, not all of us are drivers – but we are all pedestrians!

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6 thoughts on “Electric bikes: perfect answer to ‘first mile’ transit”

  1. I can’t wait for rapidkl to install bicycle racks on their buses and for KTM to allow full bicycles on trains.

    1. Apparently the Road Transport Department may not like the idea – we will have to see whether they can have their minds changed.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

    2. Apparently the Road Transport Department may not like the idea – we will have to see whether they can have their minds changed.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  2. I hope so, because I enjoy to cycle nearby my area too and I hope to carry out this leisure activity to somewhere further.

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