Letters - A case to impose proposed ban

REPORTS of opposition to the proposal to ban small motorcycles from Kuala Lumpur are off-target. On the contrary, such a ban will be welcomed by those who live and work in the city. Let me explain.

First, nobody feels safe when motorcyclists are around except the motorcyclists themselves. Even drivers of four-wheel vehicles are harassed and forced to brake suddenly to avoid hitting them.

Second, traffic rules seemingly do not apply to motorcyclists. They ignore traffic lights, no-entry signs and other rules, perhaps because they can evade the law so easily.

Third, many pedestrians are menaced by motorcyclists who ride on the walkways. I have not seen a motorcyclist booked for this offence.

Fourth, snatch thieves love the motorcycle as it best suits their modus operandi.

Fifth, pollution. Random comments are made that all vehicles pollute and motorcycles are not the worst culprits. That needs to be proven. One needs to look not only at the vehicle size but also their numbers, and the noise.

Surprisingly, I have seen no reports on urban pollution in Malaysia. As a rapidly urbanising society, Malaysians need to know how healthy the air is.

To understand the situation at street level those involved should take public transport for a day. Personal experience would be a far more impactful experience than third-party stories.

There are other reasons that argue against small motorcycles on city streets, including comparative costs. While petrol consumption may be low, there are repair and parking costs, which would make the bus cheaper.

The authorities do not have to wait for public transport to catch up before implementing the ban. Public transport has already caught up or will very soon. What needs to be done is to change the habits and mind-sets of motorcyclists. This requires not only pull but also push measures enforced in tandem with expansion of public transport.

On a recent visit to Athens, Budapest and Warsaw, capital cities of three middle-income countries like Malaysia, what struck me most was the absence of motorcycles on their roads.

These cities aspiring to be developed have prioritised the people's health and comfort. It is high time Malaysia made a start.

George Thomas
Kuala Lumpur