When cyclists see a bad accident at a popular route, there’s generally a collective concern about the safety of the area. Having made the shift from bicycles to a car-centric country, there aren’t many areas in Malaysia that cyclists can stretch their legs and ride worry-free.
This is particularly true for those who live in the Klang Valley, who often need to make a short drive to escape the confines of the city. So when the Cycling Plus Malaysia team got an invite to a Road Safety Campaign at Hulu Langat accompanied by pictures of a crashed car, we knew we couldn’t pass it up.
As many of you pedal powered folk already know, Hulu Langat is a favourite for all manner of cycling disciplines. Road bikes, mountain bikes, fat bikes, touring bikes and even small wheel foldies have been spotted in the area, all keen on conquering the Genting Peras climb, with the sufferfest enthusiasts going beyond the state border at the peak to Kongkoi and Titi.
Some head to the Semenyih Dam instead, others make it a weekend of fun at one of the many riverside picnic spots or head to a waterfall instead.
With all this in mind, we knew it was our duty as part of the cycling community to support the campaign. Upon arrival at the Simpang Peras T-junction on Sunday, we noticed a bigger crowd than the usual weekend warriors making their stop at the fruit truck before continuing their ride elsewhere.
A team of volunteers had already gathered, approaching cyclists to sign a petition form to lend weight to the campaign. After putting our names on the sheet, we were introduced to the man leading the movement. The campaign was started by Lim Seng Gee from the BMC Cycling Team, after personally witnessing a car crash in the area.
“Right here,” he says, pointing to the corner right past the T-junction, where a group of cyclists were riding past right at that very moment. “It’s all these illegal racers, they are the problem. We all want to enjoy this area, it’s such a nice place to cycle, to drive through. There are also people jogging here, and there are other road users and motorcyclists too. It’s not fair to all of us.”
According to SG Lim, the crash was a high speed one, as the speeding car lost control navigating the sweeping bend, ending the crash overturned among the shrubbery. We had initially assumed it was caused by the driver avoiding a cyclist in the middle of the road, but Lim says this isn’t true.
“No, it was just cars. You know, lots of luxury cars also race through this area,” he explained. “We have no problem with cars or motorbikes, but illegal racers like these are a danger to everyone, including the locals.”
He’s also enlisted the support of the villagers nearby, introducing me to the extremely unassuming Batu 18 Ketua Kampung, Mohd Aris Mohd Salleh. He’s missing the requisite ketayap skullcap or sarong, and casually lights a cigarette as we begin to talk.
Mohd Aris is there to also be a part of the campaign, even though the illegal racers don’t affect the villagers directly. “They don’t go through the kampung area, no,” he says, gesturing around. “They’re only going through these windy stretches, they like the road where people cycle.”
However, he admits that the cyclists and joggers are a very welcome part of the village landscape these days, and they will obviously promote any move to safeguard the general safety or the roads nearby. “We don’t have any problems with the cyclists,” he smiles. “There’s been no trouble with them at all. They come here to enjoy the local scenery, they come to cycle and eat here, it helps us and the local economy.”
Unfortunately, some car groups haven’t been too happy about the campaign, launching a social media manhunt for Lim. They’ve also threatened him personally, warning that they will take action if they see him and his volunteers in Hulu Langat, even threatening to run them over. “The main intention of the campaign is about road safety awareness to ALL the road users,” Lim adds, clearly shaken by the backlash. Due to concerns over their own safety, he has stopped sharing the campaign on social media.
Lim is also quick to assure, that the campaign is not centered around an entitlement mentality among cyclists, who are sharing the road with other users, after all. “This is not for myself to get famous or for publicity purposes,” he says, shaking his head. We are doing this because we are conscious of EVERY road user’s safety. We are not against anyone but everyone should obey law, including cyclists themselves.”
Within an hour, the volunteers have already amassed more than a hundred signatures. It’s a great sign that cyclists are not apathetic and will lend their voice to the campaign, because road safety is clearly a concern for all of them.
According to Lim, the team will continue making their rounds for the next few weeks, perhaps even at the local food joints like Bahulu Classique or Nam Wah, that the cyclists frequent on the weekends. At the end of the campaign period, the signatures will be handed over to the Hulu Langat Member of Parliament and state assemblyman for further action.
Related article: Hulu Langat, a green gem outside the city