Anyone who attends Kuala Lumpur’s car-free Sundays has probably at some point seen some bicycles with OCBC’s red, white and black corporate livery on it.
For those who do not know, these are actually bicycles that you can use for free to explore the seven kilometres of closed major streets in Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle - compliments of OCBC bank.
Other than giving people a set of wheels to roam around the metropolitan area on quiet and calm Sunday mornings, you might ask what’s in it for the Singapore bank for doing so? Well we can proudly say that they do it to encourage friendship, kinship, a healthy lifestyle as well as giving back to the community. If your curiosity runs deeper than that and you wonder why OCBC chose cycling, well it all started back in Singapore.
Tracing its roots
OCBC’s active involvement in cycling can be traced all the way back to 2009 when their parent bank in Singapore sponsored the largest national mass cycling event on closed roads - the OCBC Cycle Singapore. It attracted thousands to the inaugural event and it continues to be one of the largest corporate charitable events involving cycling in Singapore. OCBC Singapore decided the time was right for OCBC Malaysia to follow suit in 2011 and that saw them organising their first national mass cycling event called OCBC Cycle Malaysia which saw riders covering 42km of Kuala Lumpur roads. It was attended by 3000 participants and continued to flourish up until 2014 where a call from the DBKL (Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur or KL City Hall) would change everything.
KL car free morning
When DBKL came up with the idea of a regular car-free morning, OCBC Malaysia was quick to explore the possibilities with DBKL to see how they might use this platform to attend to the needs of leisure cyclists. These then might well join the ranks of serious cyclists.
After successfully integrating car free mornings in KL, it soon became evident that, unlike avid cyclists, some of the people who were attracted to OCBC KL Car Free Morning do not even own a bicycle. Some say that they used the morning to test out the bicycle experience, whilst others did not have the resources to transport their bicycles to the cycling grounds.
To solve this matter, OCBC began by providing free bicycles to the public. By offering the chance for people to ride on two wheels across the city, OCBC believed that they were removing a major obstacle standing between these people and the lure of closed roads on a Sunday morning for a nice healthy ride. The reception for the OCBC bikes are overwhelming and up until today, you’d be lucky to get a bike at 6.30am as the bikes are all pretty much taken up by then. OCBC Malaysia would like to increase the number of bicycles but storage continues to be an issue. Currently, they have 60 bikes for adults, 30 for youth, 10 tricycles for the kids and new additions of 10 tandem bikes for families this year. OCBC are working on expanding their fleet of bicycles and have said that hopefully they will be able to do so in the next few months.
In Malaysia however, the bank is known for more than just two of their particular cycling initiatives – OCBC Cycle Kuala Lumpur and the OCBC KL Car Free Morning. Their involvement in cycling goes beyond that; it encompasses sponsorships for tandem cycling involving the blind, as well as university-level initiatives.
The cycling initiative involving the blind was a stroke of genius with a great heap of class, we thought. Cycling for two is fun and helps with bonding, but when it can also allow a disabled person to enjoy cycling, that is next level stuff. Last year OCBC Malaysia donated 10 immaculate Polygon tandem bikes to the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB). Their efforts didn’t stop there either; about 14 of their staff cycled with the blind on a three-day 265 kilometre expedition from KL to Taman Negara in December last year.
Borrowing a bike from OCBC is simple (Side bar)
OCBC’s involvement in providing the bicycles to the public includes the operational aspects of getting the bikes ready at Menara OCBC right through ensuring they are safe to ride on the Sundays. All you need to do is get to Menara OCBC, Jalan Tun Perak, which is only a couple of minutes walk from the starting point of KL Car Free Sunday. A crew will be there as early as 6.a.m. and if there are bikes available, all you need to do is pass them your identification card, which will then be photocopied, and off you go. You must return the bikes as soon as the KL car free event is over at 9.am. Please do note that you must bring along your own helmets as they are not provided.