A group of cyclists riding on a fast highway has caused social media outrage, but why are they doing it and how can we change this?
There is a lot of hate going around for cyclists at the moment after a group of them was photographed cycling on the highway causing havoc for other motorists.
Reportedly near Seremban, these group of cyclists were seen crossing from the right to the left of the highway, making other motorists manoeuvre dangerously to avoid them.
Photo credit: Negeri Sembilan Kini
This viral photo caused an instant reaction on social media with other netizens joining in to share their experience with dangerous cyclists riding on the highway.
The viral photo even prompted a reaction from The Road Transport Department (JPJ) 's director-general, Datuk Seri Shaharuddin Khalid, who said in the context of the law, the RTD did not have jurisdiction over cyclists, and could only advise them on issues relating to road safety.
"We can work with other enforcement agencies to look into the issue along with the police, but we cannot issue summonses to them. When it comes to bicycles on the road, it is more in the jurisdiction of the local governments," he said in a press conference after opening the RTD's Enforcement Highway Monitoring Centre.
The problem with cyclists cycling on the highway is nothing new in Malaysia but the recent surge in people taking up cycling as a hobby has amplified this menace.
Seasoned cyclists know better than to try and cycle on the highway as years of experience have taught them that it brings more harm than joy. Sometimes it cannot be avoided, but experienced cyclists will always tend to stick to the inner roads and use critical thinking before even considering joining the highway.
The lack of closed road cycling events due to the pandemic has also increased this problem as cyclists are looking for long stretches of road to cycle. However, it is still hugely unsafe for them to take to the highways.
What we see at the moment are inexperienced cyclists hitting the road without the knowledge of how to do so. They think that the highway is permissible for cycling, but even then, logic should have kicked in - cycling should not mix with fast cars as it is hazardous for themselves as well as other road users.
Photo credit: Negeri Sembilan Kini
It even says this on the Malaysian highway code. As for now, the rules are a little grey as it only mentions that cyclists should avoid roads where other vehicles travel at fast speeds. The Malaysian Highway code states under rule 66 that a cyclist should "Always seek and use the safest route. Keep out of heavy traffic as much as possible. Avoid highways in particular, and fast traffic in general."
It's highly advisable to follow these highway codes too because if you were to look it up and go to section 68 (3), it says that if a cyclist breaks the rule, it can be used against them in court proceedings. But that's not the worst for cyclists because this would mean that a driver who knocked you over could end up walking free by placing the fault on you instead - so think twice before hitting that highway.
As a person who drives, rides as well as pedal, I understand where the anger from motorists is coming from. Before, when there were only small numbers of cyclists, most motorists would excuse this kind of road cycling behaviour, but with the growing amount of cyclist hitting the road, the encounters of cyclists with cars on fast-moving roads are starting to become more frequent, which in turn makes it a huge public nuisance.
What the government should do is to ban cycling on major highways. B-roads are more suitable and safe for cyclists anyway. This black and white ruling would be exceptionally helpful for new cyclists who are just starting out and do not know any better.
Motorists should also be wary of cyclists on B-roads as they should be allowed to enjoy this healthy activity which is better done on these slower back roads.
Some motorists treat the B-roads as their personal race track which is equally as dangerous as cyclists hitting the highway. If cyclists are banned from the highway, wouldn't it be a nice compromise that motorists take it easy on B-roads?
No one is perfect, but if we live in understanding each other, I'm sure we can all get along safely. Car drivers seem to hate anything two-wheeled anyways and while I can understand where they are coming from, just hear me out.
Apart from the rotten apples, there are some of our fellow Malaysians out there who depend on these two wheels for a living. Cycling couriers around the city need their bikes to earn a living, and it goes the same for motorbike riders. Not everyone is fortunate to own a car, and they do what they can to earn an honest living. So can we all just get along safely please!