Monday, April 07, 2008

Sidewalks and cycle lanes

Public art along sidewalk

Public art along footpath: Near Tokyo Big Sight Exhibition Centre

Cobble stone footpath: gorgeous

In this day and age of ever-rising cost of petrol, walking and cycling - especially cycling, makes perfect sense. Not only is it kind to one's pocket, these two mode of travelling is a boon for good health.

In temperate countries, town planners have it easier to encourage people to walk and cycle. Pedestrians and cyclists do not have to grapple with the problem of hot, humid weather. So they cycle and walk at every opportunity.

In this sense, the Malaysian weather is so un-forgiving that Malaysian planners have a real tough challenge on their hand.

But let's not take the easy way out and just blame the weather, shall we?

The mean weather aside, we have a lot to catch up with our western counterparts even in the area of basic design and planning for pedestrians and cyclists.

One of the most basic principles for success is surely to connect two points of destination by the shortest possible route. Now, this entails looking at requirements of pedestrian footpath and cycle lanes at the very initial layout planning stage for a residential, commercial or recreational area. Most provisions we see now, especially in old parts of cities, are merely afterthoughts.

Good planning would then have to be complemented by supportive urban design and landscaping programs that would provide the necessary shading and street furniture. All these are essential to make walking and cycling more bearable and pleasant.

In more developed countries, sidewalks and cycle path development have become an art and science in itself. Pavements are beautifully designed and decorated to make the environment interesting and conducive. Detail to designs cater for all sections of the society, including the physically-challenged.


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KotaStar said...

Hi Azizi
Good to see a topic close to yr heart and soul. Yes we need some innovative challenges to encourage our people and youth esp to take to cycling.I use to cycle to school everyday before. So too yr parents. Yes including yr mum. Then when we found scooters and cars it all stopped. When I was schooling in Penang I even cycled from Alor Star to and fro during the holiday break. Then of course the weather is hot as now but there were trees and less traffic. The simple solution is to bring back that atmosphere and make our youth abandon the crazy attractions for brand new and antique cars - almost being car crazy at time. We look forward to planners like you to innovate. Good luck and success soon.