Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Letter from Malaysian Recreational Cyclist

I impressed with the letter sent by Idris Mokhtar from Kuala Lumpur to New Straits Times with a great content from an avid cyclist perspective. Here I share with you to read his letter.

IDRIS MOKHTAR, Kuala Lumpur
letters@nst.com.my

"I AM an avid cyclist and have been one since childhood.

Now, in my mid-40s, I encourage my kids to take up cycling as a form of exercise as I deem bicycles are an amazing invention where, with just human power, you can cover considerable distances (compared with running) with ease while being "green" at the same time. It's a "zero carbon" footprint activity.

I feel proud seeing the magnificent headway made in the sport by Malaysians.

For instance, Mohd Azizulhasni Awang recently won a silver medal in the 2010 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Denmark where he nearly defeated (that, too, he was apparently denied overtaking space) the venerable Chris Hoy (listed in Wikipedia as one of the most successful Olympic male cyclists of all time).

Then there is Anuar Manan's impressive performance in the recent 2010 Le Tour de Langkawi.

I would assume it is not easy to attain such achievements without much training, support and equipment from the relevant authorities and government bodies.

However, I believe we can achieve higher success rates by putting more concerted efforts.

One of the ways to achieve this is by reducing or abolishing import tax on bicycles and bicycle components.

A competitive cyclist has to have the right equipment to be on top of the game.

It is not surprising to find that the cost of high-end racing bicycles range from RM20,000 to RM 60,000 each.

Another way to improve the standard of competitive cycling in Malaysia is to ensure better road safety for cyclists by imposing higher fines against motorists found guilty of injuring a cyclist and having more cyclist-friendly roads and lanes.

In Amsterdam, I have seen "mini" traffic lights giving priority to cyclists.

The authorities should also provide secure bicycle parking areas in buildings and encourage more bicycle-related activities, not necessarily bicycle races, but such events as riding for charity.

There can be bicycle tours of cities and the authorities can organise night rides, which might even disrupt the activities of Mat Rempit.

The authorities should consider closing a stretch of road in the city on Sunday mornings for sports-related activities (as is done every Sunday on a major road in the middle of Jakarta) such as jogging and cycling as a way to reduce the amount of emissions and smog.

It would mean opening up our cities to "greener" activities.

I find it surprising that the government has not done much to improve the availability of "all-weather" velodromes because all the velodromes in this country do not have a roof and the tracks are exposed to the elements.

Building velodromes with a roof and lighting rods can make track- cycling more popular. It will also encourage all-day training, rain or shine, night or day. One would not have to cancel a track race when it rains.

Another cycling category that we can easily excel in is the BMX race event, but we need better facilities to groom potential BMX racers.

Most of the BMX tracks in this country are privately owned and are made of hard, unforgiving concrete, whereas the BMX races during the Olympics are held on purpose-built dirt tracks.

Perhaps it is not too late to start building one, with a roof and lights to groom future Olympic BMX racers.

I remember an interview given by the late South African national cyclist, Ryan Cox, winner of the 2005 Le Tour de Langkawi.

In the interview, given some time ago, he had said, "One of my dreams is to take part in the Le Tour de Langkawi".

If a young lad from a country thousands of kilometres away can dream of coming to Malaysia to participate in a bicycle race, imagine how many untapped potentials are right here in Malaysia dreaming of the same thing.

It's just a matter of setting a conducive environment to encourage a healthier and more competitive cycling lifestyle."

Perhaps, the super-duper superior parties will take a first step even a baby step to bring more wonderful dreams and the dreams that always become reality.

3 comments:

  1. rasanya penang je yang sekarang nni ada kesederan pasal beskal ni

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  2. Very good take on cycling and its merits. I couldnt agree more. Besides the fact that cycling is also a very good form of exercise it is also environmentally friendly or "green" so to speak. Having lived in the Netherlands for some years I can attest and more so relate to Idris Mokhtar's enthusiasm. That said, the use of bicycles need to encourage among the younger generation and these programmes should also emphasize safety. Great piece, Groeten.

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