As the daily coronavirus death toll slowly falls in Italy and cities in the country make plans for reopening, Milan is beginning to transform 22 miles of local streets, adding temporary bike lanes and wider sidewalks, and lowering the speed limit. In Berlin, some parking spots have also become pop-up bike lanes. Paris is fast-tracking long-distance bike lanes that connect suburbs to the city center. And in Brussels, on May 4, the city center will become a priority zone for people on bikes and on foot.
Cities are responding to an immediate need for transportation to change—as more people begin to go back to work, if subways and buses can’t be as full as usual while allowing passengers to maintain social distancing, biking and walking will need to fill the gap. But it’s also a way to accelerate plans to cut car use that were already underway to fight climate change and make urban air safer to breathe.
“If we all need to be healthy and move in a healthy way, there’s no better way to do that than to walk and bike, and providing the infrastructure to do that is absolutely key,” says Mike Lydon, principal at the urban planning and design firm Street Plans. “Traffic volumes will go back up. But it’s at this point where we get to decide in our cities how much of it we let back in, and to what degree it’s a guest.”
How the Bicycle Access Ramp is helping reduce emissions.
By: Andy Lambert, Global Sales Manager
From the bush fire in Australia to the flooding in Venice, the impacts of the global climate crisis are being realized before our eyes. Greta Thunberg’ s book uses the title “Our House Is on Fire” and this isn’t hyperbole, our planet is literally burning up (while glaciers melt) and we need to start acting like it. One way you can act is by choosing your bicycle for transportation any chance you get.
We at Saris Infrastructure look at the places we live and visit through the lens of bicycle infrastructure. Where are the bike lanes and are they designed to protect cyclists? Is there a network of these lanes and is that network connected? How easy is it to get around on a bicycle for everyone in the community? Do public stairways have ramps so I don’t have to carry my bike up and down them?
The need to reduce our carbon emissions is highlighting these questions in more people’s minds around the world. One example of a country taking action is the Green Technology Applications for the Development of Low Carbon Cities project (GTALCC). This is a collaboration between the Government of Malaysia, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and funds are available for projects that help communities reduce their carbon emissions.
City data for the Norwegian capital, which has a population of about 673,000, show a dramatic reduction in traffic fatalities, from 41 deaths in 1975 to a single roadway death last year. One adult man was killed in 2019 when his vehicle struck a fence.
According to a story in the Norwegian paper Aftenposten, safety advocates are directly attributing the virtual elimination of roadway deaths to recent initiatives which have allowed fewer cars into the city’s center.
Over the last five years, the city has taken dramatic steps to reduce vehicular traffic in its downtown, including replacing nearly all on-street parking with bike lanes and sidewalks. Major streets have been closed to cars, and congestion pricing raised the fee to drive into the city center, with the goal of making most of downtown car-free by 2019.
Tucked into the tail end of the decade was Friday’s release of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s “Zero Emission Tokyo Strategy,” which unveils a blueprint for achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
In the strategy, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government states that it recognizes a climate crisis and that the city “will implement concrete policies and effective measures,” such as making all buildings in Tokyo zero-emissions buildings and making all cars driven here completely carbon-free by the middle of the century.
World Cities Day: Accelerating Low Carbon Cities in Malaysia through the GTALCC Project
In Malaysia, urban areas occupy less than 5 percent of the total land area but are home to more than 70 percent of the population, making the country one of the most rapidly urbanizing countries in Asia. Correspondingly, carbon emissions in Malaysia are high compared to other countries at similar stages of development. These emissions mainly relate to urban settings, where the energy sector (including electricity and transportation) makes up 80 percent of total emissions.
Sustainable urban development has an important role to play to reduce energy demand and decrease emissions. Cities in Malaysia must decouple its economic growth and carbon emissions, or risk being locked into unsustainable development pathways. Though a national goal to limit carbon emissions has been set, major barriers still limit the widespread adoption of low carbon integrated development within Malaysian cities.
With funding support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the UNDP-GEF project titled Green Technology Application for the Development of Low Carbon Cites (GTALCC) is rolling out sustainable city solutions and strengthening institutions and policy frameworks to enable the transition towards low carbon cities. Five cities (Putrajaya, Iskandar Malaysia, Cyberjaya, Petaling Jaya and Hang Tuah Jaya) are chosen as pilot cities to adopt policies and processes in city planning to urgently address the climate crisis in line with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.
In conjunction with World Cities Day on 31st of October, and with this year’s theme on “Changing the World: Innovations and Better Life for Future Generations”, the Green Technology Application for the Development of Low Carbon Cities (GTALCC) Project is showcasing several key innovative initiatives that the project and its partners are working on.
These key initiatives are:
National Low Carbon Cities Master Plan (NLCCMP)
The National Low Carbon Cities Masterplan is a national-level policy document that outlines the direction and plans for the transition towards low carbon cities in Malaysia. It defines what is required for a city to declare itself as a low carbon city and provides implementation actions required by the Federal, State and Local governments to promote a low carbon cities agenda. The Masterplan will consolidate and streamline all national policies to provide clarity for cities to embark on their low carbon journey. The Masterplan will be officially launched by the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) in the first quarter of 2020.
Peer Review for the Iskandar Malaysia Bus Rapid Transit (IMBRT)
The GTALCC project is supporting the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) to independently review the design and specifications of the planned Bus Rapid Transit System in the Iskandar Malaysia region. The Peer Review will provide input to the BRT’s design and future operations to enable GHG emissions reductions and to support the Low Carbon Society (LCS) 2025 vision for Iskandar Malaysia region.
Solar PV for Urban Spaces in Putrajaya
This proposed demonstration project aims to utilize urban spaces such as public car parks and walkways in Putrajaya for the installation of PV systems. The power generated from these panels will be provided to neighboring buildings, allowing them to consume more renewable energy than a rooftop PV installation can produce. At the same time public facilities will be upgraded in terms of roof cover that will provide shading and shelter. The current Net Energy Metering (NEM) programme implemented by the project’s lead consultant, the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) Malaysia will be leveraged for this concept project. This demonstration project is currently being finalized with key stakeholders- Putrajaya Corporation as the local authority and Putrajaya Holdings as the asset owner.
Concept visuals of proposed Solar PV Panel cover on the rooftop of multi-storey parking building behind the Ministry of Communication and Multimedia in Putrajaya
E-Bicycle Programme for Putrajaya and Cyberjaya
This initiative aims to encourage cycling for official businesses of the local authorities. The GTALCC project contributed five (5) electronic bicycles each to Putrajaya Corporation and Sepang Municipal Council. These E-bicycles are pedal assisted bicycles, where the rechargeable electric battery inside the bicycle helps push the bicycle while the cyclists pedals resulting in less fatigue and better distances in Malaysia’s tropical climate. In addition these e-bicycles are fitted with GPS tracking for the GTALCC project team to monitor and measure the GHG emission reductions from the bicycle usage. The bicycles are used by the two local authorities to commute for meetings and for enforcement rounds within their vicinity, to replace cars and motorbikes for short journeys.
About the GTALCC Project
The GTALCC Project is a five (5) year project beginning in mid-2017 that removes barriers to integrated low carbon urban planning and development in selected Malaysian cities. This achieved through three (3) components; 1) Policy Support, 2) Awareness & Institutional Capacity and 3) Demonstration Projects. GTALCC is a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)- Global Environment Facility(GEF) project that is implemented by the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) with the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) Malaysia as its lead consultant. For more information please visit www.gtalcc.gov.my
MANILA – Over the next five years, ASEAN will need US$157 billion in annual infrastructure investment, but projects need to be “climate-proofed” to mitigate the region’s vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Due to Southeast Asia’s geographical diversity — long coastlines, a large number of archipelagos, and heavily populated low-lying areas — the region has experienced a number of devastating weather-related disasters in the past decade, from hurricanes and flooding to wildfires and landslides.
But countries that are repeatedly affected by extreme weather disasters, such as the Philippines, also rank high in the long-term index, with single exceptional events, such as Typhoon Haiyan, having a lasting impact on the country’s economy and infrastructure.
“The analysis reconfirms earlier results of the Climate Risk Index: less developed countries are generally more affected than industrialised countries,” the report read.
“Regarding future climate change, the Climate Risk Index may serve as a red flag… in regions where extreme events will become more frequent or more severe due to climate change.”
The report claims that recent science has found “a clear link between climate change and record-breaking precipitation of 2017’s hurricanes”, suggesting that severe tropical cyclones will increase with every tenth of a degree increase in global average temperature.
“The question is, what can infrastructure do to help you make sure that increases in temperature are kept below 2°C from pre-industrial times?” said Rana Hasan, the Asian Development Bank’s Director of Economic Research and Regional Cooperation.
During a seminar in Manila last month, Hasan told media that experts remain concerned about the effect of temperature rise beyond 2°C.
“We are dealing with potentially dangerous situations li
As the ASEAN economy continues to grow rapidly, infrastructure projects need to be more sustainable and climate-responsive to mitigate the effects of extreme weather events, Hasan said.
“[We need] new types of infrastructure investment that can significantly reduce our carbon footprint, particularly in the areas of renewable energy,” he said, referencing a recent US$7.6 million loan from the ADB to to help build a 100-megawatt solar power park in Cambodia.
“Electricity and heat production is one of the leading sources of global greenhouse gas emissions as coal, natural gas and oil are burned for power.”
The transport sector is another industry which needs to see change by “reorienting the spending”, Hasan said.
“Rather than building more and more roads, you might consider public mass transit.”
Hasan noted that the effects of natural disasters and climate change pose a real challenge to the region’s development, and infrastructure needs to be stronger and more resilient to climate change.
“More planning needs to take place. Windspeed and typhoons are growing in strength — which means if we build infrastructure according to standards set 40 years ago, we might be left with typhoons destroying more of our infrastructure stock.”
The ADB said it wants to help ASEAN governments scale up their green infrastructure, and recently launched a new US$1 billion loan facility for investment into Southeast Asian projects.
Hiroaki Yamaguichi, director at ADB’s Transport and Communications Division for Southeast Asia, said that when mobilising investment, a difficult balance needs to be struck between development, sustainability and climate resilience.
“A lot of ASEAN countries are affected by climate change, and people are really concerned… Many of our cities are not livable now and it will be worse in the future, we need to do something before it gets worse.”
When you think of the world’s most bike-friendly cities, Amsterdam and Copenhagen probably come to mind first. But another contender has edged into the top tier: Utrecht, the fourth-largest and fastest-growing city in the Netherlands, where average daily bike trips number 125,000.
A new short film from the transit-oriented documentary-makers at Streetfilms reveals how this city of 330,000 turned into a cyclist’s paradise. As in Nijmegen—star of yet another recent Streetfilms project—it’s all about the infrastructure. Specialized roads and parking facilities gives bike riders the upper hand over cars, which make up less than 15 percent of trips into city center. Some 60 percent happen in the saddle.
In 2013 the Irish capital was ranked among the world’s top 20 bike-friendly cities, but only a small part of the promised cycle network was ever built
One sunny May afternoon in Dublin, as the Spice Girls prepared to kick off their Spice World 2019 tour at Croke Park stadium, the coaches bringing their fans unwittingly sparked another reunion – the city’s cycle activists.
It had been two years since the direct action group I Bike Dublin had mobilised to protect cycle tracks from car parking – uniting around twice a week under the hashtag #freethecyclelanes – but as police officers directed coach drivers to park in the bike lane by Dublin Bay, blocking the track, the protesters were back.
On Saturday, NST Online conducted a poll on social media, asking Malaysians whether they were interested in using a new bicycle lane linking the suburbs of Wangsa Maju to the KLCC area which City Hall said would be completed in a year.
A total of 2,400 of our readers answered the poll, and when voting closed, it was revealed that 50.2 per cent said they would not use the bicycle lane, while 49.8 per cent said they were interested.
As the issue unfolded, there were many comments on the articles suggesting why cycling is still not a common practice in Malaysia. Safety and poor infrastructure as well as dangerous drivers and narrow Kuala Lumpur roads were cited as some reasons why Malaysians don’t cycle to work, and why cycling lanes were not suited for Malaysia. Yet, there were other naysayers who said that the Malaysian climate was not conducive to cycling, and any effort would be doomed to fail.