Dare we make our urban cores car-free?

Today’s NST features an excellent opinion piece which is syndicated from the New York Times on how Europe transforms its cities to accommodate  pedestrian, cyclists and transit at the expense of air-polluting and space-consuming motorists. Enjoy the article after the jump!

Across Europe, Irking Drivers Is Urban Policy

ZURICH – While U.S. cities are synchronizing green lights to improve traffic flow and offering apps to help drivers find parking, many European cities are doing the opposite: creating environments openly hostile to cars.

Here, a tram drives down Limmatquai, one of many streets that have been made "car-free" in the past decade. (NY Times)

The methods vary, but the mission is clear – to make car use expensive and just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation.

Cities from Vienna to Munich and Copenhagen have closed vast swaths of streets to car traffic. Barcelona and Paris have had car lanes eroded by popular bike-sharing programs.

TRANSIT Says:  Our distributor roads with low traffic throughput design and enforced low speed limit (supposedly, what say you, MIROS?) should function as ‘cycling’ intermediaries between local roads (geared for people-based access) and arterial roads (geared for fast and simplified local bus or tram rapid transit, what say you, SPAD?).

Local councils should pay heed to Selangor Exco Ronnie Liu’s demand for creativity in providing public transport service, and start taking charge of local bus, bicycle and barrier-free pedestrian plans.

We call on the authorities of Putrajaya, Subang Jaya, Bangi and Shah Alam to start simplifying the bus routes, designate bike lanes on distributor roads (to connect bus routes along Persiarans and boulevards with individual streets within each residential sections), and work with PDRM and JPJ to enforce speed limits.

One way this can be done without costing much money is to paint striking colors on the shoulder sides of these roads that visually tells motorists to yield to cyclists. Of course, car lanes will become narrower (1.5 meter for bikes, and 4-5 meters for cars), and motorists will be forced to slow down upon approaching the opposite traffic.

But this will ultimately discourage drivers from speeding (and forcing them to think twice to hit the pedal just to run simple errands), keep moms with little running kids roam around the neighbourhood care-free, and finally create a healthy and people-friendly car-free environment!

Barcelona has one of the most successful bike-sharing programs in Europe, with red bikes scattered at stands throughout the city. (NY Times)

Drivers in London and Stockholm pay hefty congestion charges just for entering the heart of the city. And over the past two years, dozens of German cities have joined a national network of “environmental zones” where only cars with low carbon-dioxide emissions may enter.

Likeminded cities welcome new shopping malls and apartment buildings but severely restrict the allowable number of parking spaces. On-street parking is vanishing. In recent years, even former car capitals like Munich have evolved into “walkers’ paradises,” said Lee Schipper, a senior research engineer at Stanford University who specializes in sustainable transportation.

“In the United States, there has been much more of a tendency to adapt cities to accommodate driving,” said Peder Jensen, head of the Energy and Transport Group at the European Environment Agency. “Here there has been more movement to make cities more livable for people, to get cities relatively free of cars.”

To that end, the municipal Traffic Planning Department here in Zurich has been working overtime in recent years to torment drivers. Closely spaced red lights have been added on roads into town, causing delays and angst for commuters. Pedestrian underpasses that once allowed traffic to flow freely across major intersections have been removed. Operators in the city’s ever-expanding tram system can turn traffic lights in their favor as they approach, forcing cars to halt.

Zurich's streets have no crosswalks or crossing signals, based on the logic that pedestrians should be able to cross where and when they like. (NY Times)
Around Lovenplatz, one of Zurich’s busiest squares, cars are banned on many blocks. Where permitted, their speed is limited to a snail’s pace so that crosswalks and crossing signs can be removed entirely, giving people on foot the right to cross anywhere they like at any time.
TRANSIT Says:  In the heart of the city, the KL City Hall fined jaywalkers for not using pedestrian bridges, and allowed road widening projects (i.e. Jln Pahang-Genting Klang) to encroach into the already narrow sidewalks. More fly-overs are in progress, which will destroy pedestrian visibility and connectivity between adjacent land lots. When will we ever learn?

As he stood watching a few cars inch through a mass of bicycles and pedestrians, the city’s chief traffic planner, Andy Fellmann, smiled. “Driving is a stop-and-go experience,” he said. “That’s what we like! Our goal is to reconquer public space for pedestrians, not to make it easy for drivers.”

While some U.S. cities, notably San Francisco, have made similar efforts, expanding bike paths and “pedestrianizing” parts of Market Street, they are still the exception in the United States, where it has been difficult to get people to imagine a life where cars are not entrenched, Schipper said.

Europe’s cities generally have stronger incentives to act. Built for the most part before the advent of cars, their narrow roads are poor at handling heavy traffic. Public transportation is generally better in Europe than in the United States, and gas often costs more than $8 a gallon, contributing to driving costs that are two to three times greater per mile than in the United States, Schipper said.

TRANSIT Says:  The government should amend the National Automotive Policy and the National Energy Policy, and start to shift from ownership-based to usage-based taxes. Make using cars more expensive, and make leaving-your-high-monthly-installment-car-inside-your-garage-to-take-transit-to-work cheaper. Amsterdam already charges road taxes based on mileage. Mileage based insurance is getting more popular in Europe.

What is more, EU countries cannot meet a commitment under the Kyoto Treaty to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions unless they curb driving. The United States never ratified that pact.

Globally, emissions from transportation continue a relentless rise, with half of them coming from personal cars. Yet an important impulse behind Europe’s traffic reforms will be familiar to mayors from Los Angeles to Vienna: to make cities more inviting, with cleaner air and less traffic.

Michael Kodransky, global research manager at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy in New York, which works with cities to reduce transport emissions, said Europe was previously “on the same trajectory as the United States, with more people wanting to own more cars.” But in the past decade, there had been “a conscious shift in thinking, and firm policy,” he said. And it is having an effect.

After two decades of car ownership, Hans Von Matt, 52, who works in the insurance industry, sold his vehicle and now gets around Zurich by tram or bicycle, using a car-sharing service for trips out of the city. Carless households have increased to 45 percent from 40 percent in the past decade, and car owners use their vehicles less, city statistics show.

Public transportation that is clean and efficient is key to getting people out of cars, planning experts say. In Zurich, a tram stop is never more than a few blocks away. (NY Times)

“There were big fights over whether to close this road or not – but now it is closed and people got used to it,” he said, alighting from his bicycle on Limmatquai, a riverside pedestrian zone lined with cafes that used to be two lanes of gridlock. Each major road closing has to be approved in a referendum.

Tram tracks are everywhere in Zurich (the city has no subway system), and they are a high priority in city planning. Tram drivers can make traffic lights turn green in their favor as they approach, speeding travel. (NY Times)

Today 91 percent of the delegates to the Swiss Parliament take the tram to work. Still, there is grumbling. “There are all these zones where you can only drive 20 or 30 kilometers per hour (about 12 to 18 mph), which is rather stressful,” Thomas Rickli, a consultant, said as he parked his Jaguar in a lot at the edge of town. “It’s useless.”

TRANSIT Says:  We remember how Rembau MP Khairy can’t find the right bus to go to the Parliament!

Urban planners generally agree that a rise in car commuting is not desirable for cities anywhere.

Fellmann calculated that a person using a car took up 115 cubic meters (roughly 4,000 cubic feet) of urban space in Zurich while a pedestrian took three. “So it’s not really fair to everyone else if you take the car,” he said.

European cities also realized they could not meet increasingly strict World Health Organization guidelines for fine-particulate air pollution if cars continued to reign. Many U.S. cities are likewise in “nonattainment” of Clean Air Act requirements, but that fact “is just accepted here,” said Kodransky of the New York-based transportation institute.

It often takes extreme measures to get people out of their cars, and providing good public transportation is a crucial first step. One novel strategy in Europe is intentionally making it harder and more costly to park.

“Parking is everywhere in the United States, but it’s disappearing from the urban space in Europe,” said Kodransky, whose recent report “Europe’s Parking U-Turn” surveys the shift.

Sihl City, a new Zurich mall, is three times the size of Brooklyn’s Atlantic Mall but has only half the number of parking spaces, and as a result, 70 percent of visitors get there by public transport, Kodransky said.

In Copenhagen, Denmark, Jensen, at the European Environment Agency, said his office building had more than 150 spaces for bicycles and only one for a car, to accommodate a disabled person.

Copenhagen has one of the highest bicycle commuting rates in the world: 37 percent of the people who enter the city on an average day do so on bicycle (even in winter). (NY Times)

While many building codes in Europe cap the number of parking spaces in new buildings to discourage car ownership, U.S. codes conversely tend to stipulate a minimum number. New apartment complexes built along the light-rail line in Denver devote their bottom eight floors to parking, making it “too easy” to get in the car rather than take advantage of rail transit, Kodransky said.

TRANSIT Says:  Building codes and plot ratios must be made flexible to encourage transit-oriented development. Medium rise buildings should be allowed near stops of local rapid transit lines. That’s why TRANSIT calls on local authorities and SPAD to work together on integrating Regional Klang Valley masterplan with local bus, bicycle and pedestrian plans.

Mere public displays of RT, RKK and RSN are not enough. People should be empowered on how to help the Federal, State and Local governments to decide on short-term and long-term urban gravity centers (centers of employment, commercial and institutional activities), and finally on how these centers are connected to each other (buses? trams? metros?).

While Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has generated controversy in New York by “pedestrianizing” a few areas like Times Square, many European cities have progressively closed vast areas to car traffic. Store owners in Zurich had worried that the closings would mean a drop in business, but that fear has proved unfounded, Fellmann said, because pedestrian traffic increased 30 percent to 40 percent where cars were banned.

TRANSIT Says:  Imagine if MPK allocated two lanes of double-looping bus services along the 4-lane ring road that encapsulates downtown Klang. MPK must get rid of parking spaces, and widen the pedestrian paths, because uninterrupted walking from the ring road to the center of downtown Klang can be less than 10 minutes!

With politicians and most citizens still largely behind them, Zurich’s planners continue their traffic-taming quest, continuing to shorten the green-light periods and lengthen the red so that pedestrians wait no more than 20 seconds to cross.

“We would never synchronize green lights for cars with our philosophy,” said Pio Marzolini, a city official. “When I’m in other cities, I feel like I’m always waiting to cross a street. I can’t get used to the idea that I am worth less than a car.”

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24 thoughts on “Dare we make our urban cores car-free?”

  1. this is inspiring reporting, but it is from developed countries in Western Europe. Can’t see that happening in car-centric Malaysia, not with the protection of Proton and Perodua, and haphazard development of land, housing and building. We still are a developing country and have a third-world mentality to everything.

    1. @Jerping

      European cities had their flirtation with car-centric development as well. Le Coubusier, the Swiss-French architect & designer, proposed the development of tall, suburban “towers in the park” that were thought to be a vast improvement on the dense and crowded conditions of European cities. This development model was adopted throughout the world, including in Malaysia.

      England had its “new towns” which encouraged light urban developments but often led to urban sprawl.

      So there is enough evidence to say that these places were also car-centric.

      What changed is the choices that these countries have made. They have accepted the real cost of petrol and car-centric culture and urban sprawl, instead of subsidizing it. They have invested in railways, in making urban cores that are pedestrian-friendly and livable. They have brought people back to living in the cities with exciting and vibrant urban life.

      We can learn to do the same, in KL and in other towns and cities throughout Malaysia.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  2. I don’t quite agree here. yes, we need to make it more pedestrian friendly, but the european model is not the solution. their weather is cool&nice for a walk or cycle, whereas ours is either too hot or too wet.

    yes, i would like to hv more piazzas, plazas & public places, wide pedestrian walks.

    but to get ppl out of their cars with air conds, we need to ensure that there are awnings & trees to provide shades where a person can walk from 1 corner to the other w/o the sun or getting wet. the s/pore model is more appropriate in such c/stances. for a start, we would need
    1) unbroken pavements & drainages that are covered
    2) roads w/o potholes
    3) pedestrian walks must be even, that even a wheel chair bound person can travel from Point A to Point B
    4) the pedestrian walks need to be covered on either side by awnings / trees for shades

    then only we can get ppl to get off their cars to start walking

    1. @William

      Where do you think Singapore got their model from? The original town plan was drawn up by Sir Stamford Raffles – a series of neighbourhoods for each of the “major races” in Singapore – planned according to economic function and separated by bridges and waterways.

      Some of the main neighbourhoods of Singapore’s “town” area still reflect the “heritage” of the races they were designed

      • Chinatown | Chinese | Trade & commerce
      • Kg. Glam and Arab St. | Malays and other Muslims | Light trading
      • Colonial District | British | Administration
      • Raffles Place | British | Finance
      • Emerald Hill | Peranakan | Administration
      • Little India | South Indians (Hindu & Muslim) | Service trades, farming

      And we see the same design in KL with Chinatown, Masjid Jamek/Masjid India/Kg. Baru, Brickfields (Little India) and the colonial district.

      Now if we look at the “new town” residential areas created from estates surrounding the town, we also see similarities in the planning and the designs – government-funded public housing projects and terrace houses can be found in many areas of the “inner new towns” of Singapore.

      So the difference is not in the original town planning, or the planning of the original suburbs. The clear difference is that 30 years ago Singapore figured out their transportation situation and we did not.

      More than 30 years ago they managed to resolve the issues with unregulated buses. We have barely accomplished that (the process has started with no clear end in sight). 30 years ago they started building their MRT according to a concise plan while we have been throwing plan after plan out the window in favour of something new.

      Almost all of Singapore’s MRT lines run along/under major streets that were heavily used by buses in the past. Our LRT lines barely touch the streets that they need to service.

      Singapore knows how to make their roads work effectively. We can learn much from the Singapore model, but that detail is probably the most crucial.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  3. There is nothing wrong with walking under the hot sun in Malaysia. I cycle during hot weather. During cloudy days. Even during light drizzles. Most Malaysians are too pampered and enjoy the good life, that they forgot how it is like to walk, and enjoy the environment and weather. Of course, there is this little inventian called the ‘umbrella’ when it rains. Check it out. It was made popular by Rihanna.

  4. @Jerping
    First, Malaysian weather being hot is one thing, being utterly humid is another different issue. Secondly, I think most of us know that we spend more time at work than at our home, sometimes our own home feels more like a hotel. Somesitmes we even work six days in a week as if our life is nothing but work. What I’m trying to say is if you walk a lot under the hot humid weather of Malaysia especially when you are on duty/business or so you are more likely to become a drenched chicken in your own pespiration and this is not going to look good in front of your boss and client/customer and it might smells too especially when you are in your working attires. People might think what is happening to you. Thirdly, I came across some examples where some kids or even adults will easily fall ill if they exposed too much under the hot and humid Malaysian sun. In UK, France or US, walking under the sun is so pleasure, you can even walk to your workplace or so without looking like a drenched chicken in your own pespiration but not in most parts of Southeast Asia. Of course if I am having my off day and enjoying my own slow leisure moment, I won’t mind to walk under the hot humid sun of Malaysia and I used to cycle from Muar town to the foothill of Gunung Ledang (returned trip total=140km) vice versa without any difficulties, in fact when you take a nice cool shower after you perspires a lot, it’s a heavenly feeling.

  5. Jeffrey is right.
    Bear in mind this – if your audience here are malaysian ppl & we are talking abt closing off city center (which most likely are hubs with offices / shopping complex), then u hv to bear in mind as well the attire of the pedestrians & what their habits would be & where are they heading to next when they walk.

    don’t think of guys with sneakers walking for a casual cup of coffee at their leisurely time.

    think of those
    1) whom are heading for a meeting, going back to office after a bite of lunch
    2) women in high heels (cos guys like to see women with high heels & women feel pretty wearing 9 inch heels)
    3) ppl who walked out w/o an umbrella (unless u start making umbrella hats fashionable)
    4) old ppl enfeebled that if the pavement is a bit high, they are going to hv a problem climbing up the steps. that is why taxis often stop very near entrances of shopping complex for them

    You may tell ppl to bring an umbrella but ask yourself – how many times do u see ppl crowding at the exit of LRT stations b/cos they forgot an umbrella & there is a downpour.

    You may block off the cars from entering the city which is the easy part, but if there are no shades for protection from the sun or rain, and the pavement is flat enough for walking, you will not see ppl getting out of their cars.

    1. @William

      There has been no clear statement about closing off the city centre from cars. What we are talking about is creating urban cores that are public transport and pedestrian-focused, rather than car-focused, and encouraging people to live their cars at the periphery and use public transport (for longer distances) and walking (for the “last mile” trips).

      There will be some places where certain roads would be closed off to cars – in many places this has already been done but the pedestrian & public transport environments have not been built to replace it. For example, Masjid India and Petaling Street are closed to cars but they have become the sites of crowded, sweaty markets rather than being open, focused pedestrian plazas – and there has been little improvement to public transport included in the closure of those streets.

      As for walking, a real question is to ask how far people are going to walk. The idea is to have public transport available for those people who can only walk short distances (or only want to walk short distances). It does not matter if we have elevated covered walkways (which will still be hot and humid) or tree-covered walkways at ground level, if people do not want to walk even short distances.

      Umbrellas should be fashionable as they block out the rain and the sun. And today’s umbrellas are small enough to fit into a messenger bag/satchel/backpack/handbag/laptop bag so not having an umbrella is a matter of choice.

      As for 9-inch heels – I really hope you meant 9cm because 9inches (22.86cm) is scary.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  6. another thing we need to bear in mind is this – safety of pedestrians. Not from cars but from muggers.

    A litmus test is this – would you walk on that part of the street at 2 am in the morning.

    One way to do that is to hv bright lights from street lamps covering every angle. studies hv shown that bright lighting makes ppl feel safer walking.

    Another way is to hv bldgs that are abt 3 to 4 storeys high with glass doors and bright lights coming from within (not using shutter doors). It create the impression that there are observers from within

  7. It’s true that having observers can deter crime, which is why the better solution to the problem of mugging is having more people walking, not less.

    If Copenhagen is anything to go by, climate has less effect on pedestrian behavior than people assume. Difference in temperatures between a shaded surface and a non-shaded surface can be as much as 10-20 degrees. Well-designed pedestrian facilities can get more people walking, be it freezing Scandinavian winters or sweltering tropical days.

    There’s nothing wrong with walking outside for 5-10 minutes to lunch in work attire. Hunger is a good incitement.

  8. are we implying that some people forgot or doesn’t carry a RM20-umbrella, so we have to spend millions RM to build covered walkway to help them out?

    Just look at singapore’s chinatown or orchard road. It is so pedestrian friendly. No need to have covered walkways. The pedestrian walkways are at least 15 feet wide!!! If you have pedestrian-friendly walkways, you don’t need to close that many city streets.

  9. I am not saying that you cannot hv a car less city center. What I am saying is that we cannot use the European model as they hv a different climate there. What we need is sthg closer to home, eg Singapore, where they hv factored in the abrupt change of weather pattern.

    What u see at Orchard are the nice pedestrian walks above. What u failed to mention is that there is a web of underground air conditioned tunnels to all directions, to NgeeAnn City, to Wheelock etc. Likewise at Raffles place.

    the problem is it is not going to be easy to dig tunnels connecting from Bldg A to Bldg B in Msia when we did not plan it right.

    Covered walkways can only work for very short distance, as u rightly pointed out it can still be hot & humid. Would we need then a powerful fan to blow in cool air or would we need the whole area to be air conditioned?

    What abt old&infirmed ppl walking around with walking stick? u see benches on shopping malls at every floor so that they can sit down if their legs tire out. one way is to hv benches, or to hv travellators like the ones u see at airports if the walkway is too long. if u don’t plan for this, what will happen is that old ppl will shy away from the city hubs, which is not sthg that we want either.

    1. @William

      Orchard is only one example of a comfortable street where lots of people can and do walk. There are many others streets in Singapore including North Bridge Road, New Bridge Road, Victoria St, Bencoolen St., Somerset Road, etc. that do not have underground walkways or shady trees – but they do have wide sidewalks & pedestrian-friendly environment.

      As for benches – there are very few benches in most M’sian cities and also very few in Singapore – probably because of this fear that having benches would encourage vagrants/loitering and that would give a bad impression to the public.

      I doubt that we would see lots of benches along streets in a pedestrian-focused KL – but maybe there could be more sidewalk cafes & mamak shops/kopitiam scattered around for people to enjoy.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  10. @moaz
    How s/pore govt did to keep cars from those areas is quite ruthless typical of LKY which we all know&love
    1) lots of ERP gantry heading to city
    2) expensive parking

    @moaz &@jerping & @ethan
    What few Malaysians know & mention abt S/pore govt is that the S/pore govt spent quite a bit of $
    1) paying contractors connecting shades from 1bldg to another
    2) planting tall leafy trees by roadside
    so that ppl can walk from point a to point b under some shade

    Secondly, the recent closure of road at New York is still a pilot by the Mayor Bloomberg. If it proves unpopular, the road will be opened up again

    Qn: which model shld we adopt? Of course we would like to hv car-free city centers with lush green lawns, fountains and public squares like in european cities. The road around klcc, bukit bintang for instance can be closed up from cars.

    However i m doubtful we can Copy&Paste due to reasons above.

    Whilst we may want the ideal state of car-free, any solution proposed has to
    1) not cause too much pain & hardship – We hv a thriving democracy where opposition (pkr or umno depending on which state)would be quick to leap up to arms to protect the rakyat. If tolls are so unpopular, i doubt any msian would consent to gantry
    2) not cause too much leakage – Eg lembah pantai mp very observant on air cond pedestrian bridge at klcc but surprisingly silent on many other matters

    Otherwise, if we cannot get the buy in from the biggest stakeholder (the ppl who will be walking the most), there is no way it will ever take off

  11. yes, we need someone who is ruthless to implement the unpopular policies. If we have politicians doing the popular policies all the time, then u and me can also do their work.
    Not only do i support congestion charges and expensive parking in downtown, i also want to see public buses only streets, massive reduction in parking spaces for private vehicles, widening of pedestrian walkways and introduction of bicycle lanes.
    Which KL mayor has the balls to make the hard decisions, pls raise your hand?

  12. Hi William

    Of course sudden revolutionary change could deter the public’s acceptance to nonmotorized form of transportation due to political backlash.

    That’s why TRANSIT has been proposing Bus Rapid Transit or tram lines in downtown KL – when we have downtown circulating services that runs frequently (2 mins headway), uninterrupted (priority signals), with easy pedestrian access (no barriers/bridges)…

    [SPAD needs to come up with ways to disperse downtown commuters to the edge of KL CBD (KL Sentral and other gateway terminals like Hang Tuah and Titiwangsa) through simplified transit routes and this CAN be done – if European cities with narrow roads can do it, why not KL?]

    Plus wide pedestrian walkway (permeable to each other) with plenty of continuous and easy to maintain shades (japanese bamboo trees near entrance to Alamanda is gorgeous)…

    [DBKL needs to reclaim parking for walkway, and assure business owners of greater generation of foot traffic as consumer catchment potential through people-oriented development code – meaning no vehicle workshop or logistic-based activities near transit nodes and walkways]

    We are pretty sure people will likely to jump to transit (rather than wasting fuel, polluting the air, and time wasted in traffic jam and futile search for parking).

    Zul for TRANSIT

  13. in europe, the petrol price is from RM5/liter to RM9/liter. mostly to discourage car usage and help build those nice roads/autobahns we love to see in top gear.

    malaysian buys 50k of vehicles per month. it can be implied that half of that is in klang valley. i like to see how jammed up streets of kl would have to be before the government/local authorities realized that it’s about moving people, not cars….

    p/s: from my unscientific observation: USJ to federal highway is 45 minutes, bukit jelutong to shah alam is now 30-40 minutes, bukit jelutong-klcc is 90 to 120 minutes. all times is by cars. i see men shifting to (big and small) bikes, but i pity the women who has to drive or take public transport….

  14. @Zul
    i agree with you that changes must be not too painful for acceptance. let me just add the following

    what we need are quick kills to get fast results. ways to do that are to slowly change ppl’s habits to leave their cars at the car park / not to drive unnecessarily. i would suggest

    1) hv short distance shuttle buses to link from 1 hub to another. eg free shuttle bus linking major shopping complexes like 1Utama to IKEA to Sunway Giza. that way, drivers would not need to drive out to clog the traffic once they are at 1 place. another eg is of course for these shopping complexes to hv free shuttle bus to link to the LRT station straight

    2) continuous shades be it trees / awnings circling around a particular hub. eg for Bukit Bintang, is able to walk from 1 shopping complex to another crossing road etc w/o exposed to sun / rain. Or KLCC able go across circling around that area crossing to Public Bank etc. in other words, this would entail studying the pattern of pedestrians of where do they walk and how to make them feel more comfortable & safer walking crossing the road

    3) hv public amenities to complete all hubs. e.g. a library. the national public library is at Jln Tun Razak which is poorly accessible & causes ppl having to travel unnecessarily to go there. we would need libraries to be near watering holes which in Msia means shopping malls

    4) work with developers / business / town planners to hv suburban malls complete with cinemas at almost every housing area / hub to keep cars from going down to klcc / midvalley just to catch the latest movie. eg at PJ SS2. could just plonk a small cinema at there to keep whoever who has driven down that area to hv everything from being able to buy groceries, eat at hawkers to catch a movie w/o having to make a trip driving down to Midvalley

    5) encourage travelling of bicycles at certain public places. i am highly doubtful ppl would cycle to office / shopping mall due to
    i) they would be wearing office attire / they are all dressed up nicely
    ii) they can cycle to the office but where can they put their bicycle. if KLCC, u can put your bike at a bike stand but no guarantee it will still be there 2 hours later
    iii) if u are all sweaty (u still sweat even if u cycle, just that the sweat is all dried up), u would need a public shower facility. hard to get that even at KLCC area

    what i think is workable for bicycling is at market places. the mak ciks would not be carrying LVMH handbags going to market nor be dressed to kill in buying groceries. as such at every market places, there needs to hv more bike stands for locking bicycles

  15. We don’t have to convert everything all at once. I think Certain areas should be made completely car-free, Keeping only (upgraded, nice, clean, CNG using) Public transport in the areas. However with priority given to pedestrians.

    An idea in mind would the Petaling Street area. That place already has a lot of pedestrians. Having any motorised vehicle intrusion just destroys the traffic safety that one can experience in that area.

    also perhaps the jalan telawi area in Bangsar.

    or SS2 commercial area.

    in these areas, having cars there, just decreases its attractivity. People don’t mind walking in those areas, as can be seen by the fact that they park perhaps 100 m away and walk to do whatever. OF course why not increase the shades and stuff.. and perhaps include some rickshaws.. and allow cyclists to roam the streets. People can come by taxis or buses if they want.

    also i think it is fair to residents living in the area, who suffer for the ‘convenience’ of motorists. okay anyway i am rambling..

  16. Hi @Thars

    Those are good ideas and we hope that the DBKL & PJ governments would consider them.

    Regarding Petaling Street, one easy solution would be to get the buses off Petaling Street (south of the night market area) by opening up the Jalan Kinabalu roundabout so buses can directly access Pasar Seni station instead of having to deal with the jam on Jalan Petaling.

    Regarding Jalan Telawi in Bangsar and SS2 in Petaling Jaya that is somewhat harder to do since public transport services are somewhat distant, but there are solutions that can be found.

    KL’s advantage is that it has many small, closely spaced roads in the city centre. If you just look at distances & direct routes and ignore the traffic congestion, uneven pavements and the heat & humidity (and many people do) you would find that it is relatively easy to walk around in KL.

    It’s too bad that we have redesigned our cities to promote ‘traffic flow’ and increases traffic volumes and then complain that KL roads are badly planned.

    Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  17. What about Jalan Bukit Bintang from new Pavilion (Mall) to old Pavilion (cinema)? And Jalan Sultan Ismail from Parkroyal to Lot 10? And Jalan Imbi in front of Berjaya Times Square too.

  18. Dear Moaz,
    Who exactly is responsible for this? I find even just from picking my niece up from schools, that more attention should be given to making certain areas ‘car-free’. Or at least priority should be given and encouraged for other modes of travel. Most schools are located in residential areas, which should not have 100s of cars congesting the area every single day… Residents are entitled to a degree of quiet.

    Even for the safety of children in school areas, these areas should be cordoned off from the mostly selfish and impatient drivers, who have only eyes to fetch their own children, or who are on the phone in their cars.

    Of course, i admit I am part of the impatient drivers group when i pick my niece up. Buttt, most times I park far away and walk the distance to the school gate.

    anyway, my point is… if i am a resident, troubled by these situations, who can i turn to in the Sea park area? Or what can I do?

    1. @Thars

      What you want to do is find a proactive local council & supportive Residents’ Associations.

      DBKL & MBPJ councillors would probably be supportive in a general way, and I expect that staff would be quite supportive (especially the planning department staff).

      I can imagine that RA’s would also be happy to reduce daily traffic congestion and pollution outside their homes.

      The big question is, where will the cars park. The real question should be, how do we reduce the number of car trips between homes & schools?

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

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