KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 — When it comes to road safety, there is no denying that those on two wheels are definitely more vulnerable than those on four.
To make matters worse, the dedicated bike lanes along the Federal Highway have been in construction hell since 2017 when they were first closed for upgrading.
From the inadequate signs and barriers warning motorcyclists of the ongoing repairs to the seemingly lackadaisical attitude towards something as basic as letting tarred roads dry, a road safety activist said repairs undertaken by the authorities have simply been disappointing.
Azlan Sani Zawawi — more popularly known as Lando — heads up Ikatan Silaturahim Brotherhood, a group active in road safety advocacy for motorcyclists.
They have also been fixing potholes voluntarily all over the city since 2011 as these pose a particular danger to motorcyclists.
Lando said this shows that Malaysia’s bad roads are not the result of some technical shortfall, but because those responsible did not care to do a good job in the first place.
He is planning to organise a campaign — “Kempen Sayangi Laluan Motosikal” — in order to raise awareness on the safe use of bike lanes in the Klang Valley.
“We need this campaign to kick start a road safety workshop nationwide and I will only do it if the Ministry of Works and the Public Works Department sit down and agree to certain terms,” he said.
“Firstly, the roads that they promised to repair must be fixed meaning they should be wide enough for two bikes to ride side-by-side and secondly, the lanes should be well lit... especially the tunnels where a lot of robbery, theft and assault cases have been reported.
“The last request is for someone to monitor these roads at all times or at least make their rounds once every hour to make sure everything is in order as right now, every time someone gets on the bike lane their mortality rate increases,” Lando told Malay Mail.
Ever since the bike lanes were closed, motorcyclists have been using the highway — putting both theirs and other motorists’ lives in danger.
No longer content with riding on the left lane of the highway, some motorcyclists now even speed on the furthest right lanes and compete with larger vehicles for the same space.
The problem is amplified during traffic jams when the motorcyclists change lanes carelessly and at speeds far higher than the 20kph differential with other traffic, which is generally recommended for road safety.
Another issue is criminals are placing thin wires across these dark unlit tunnels along bike lanes to trip motorcyclists riding along; once they fall, they are then robbed or assaulted.
In order to curb some of these ills, Lando uses his own money to fix street lights and fill potholes — and he has been doing this throughout Malaysia.
The former actor and now producer told Malay Mail that his tenacity in wanting to get the authorities to fix the roads comes from personal tragedy.
“I’ve lost 10 friends to date due to bad roads and accidents, bro,” said Lando.
“That’s why I formed the Brotherhood. It started as a road safety campaign called Kempen Keselamatan Jalan Raya Doctor Motor then we changed it to Kempen Keselamatan Lance Korporal Mamat, which was my character in the series Roda Roda Kuala Lumpur.
“We do not care about politics and neither do I ask the government for money. I do everything out of (my own) pocket. But some things I can’t do on my own.
“Next year is 2020 and Dr Mahathir’s vision was to have flying cars. But if you look closely, we already have flying cars and bikes because of the lubangs (holes) on the road,” added Lando who has been featured on BBC London, ABC Australia and in Italy for championing road safety.
Lando has set no timeline or date for the campaign but wants the authorities to take more action rather than just pose for pictures and shake hands after a meeting.
“When it comes to the system that is killing our own brothers, we will fight,”‘ said Lando.
“Agencies shouldn’t be politicking between each other and should complement one another. I for one have no time for politics, neither will I show support for anyone.
“We’ve had one major meeting with Works Minister Baru Bian and relevant parties during Ramadan and hopefully i get to meet them again soon to figure this out.”
Lando said his campaign is targeting motorcyclists in the Klang Valley who are using the 16-kilometre stretch of the Federal Highway from Subang to Mid Valley.
He said these roads are the most damaged and most frequently used so they need immediate attention.
Once the government can guarantee they can and will fix the damaged roads, Lando’s campaign will kick in to teach riders how to use the roads responsibly, how to overtake in a safe way, how to exit and enter the bike lanes, what steps to take in case of rain and floods and also how to be courteous and respectful riders.
This way, he hopes to drop the accident and fatality rates which are skyrocketing.