KUALA LUMPUR, 17 Sept 2009: RapidKL considers bicycles, even folded ones, “potentially dangerous” to bring onboard an LRT. Hence, its policy restricting bicycles from LRT trains during peak hours.
RapidKL’s communication division general manager, Ebi Azly Abdullah, said the company’s policy on bicycles was clearly stated on its website. Foldable bicycles are only allowed during off-peak hours from 9.30am to 4.30pm.
“They (folded bicycles) are potentially dangerous during peak hours because they have more sharp edges than a pram,” he added. “It can be a dangerous weapon, should the train brake in an emergency.”
Chi Too’s potentially dangerous weapon (pic courtesy of Chi Too)
Ebi was commenting on a one-person protest by a passenger against the policy after the passenger was denied entry onto the LRT because of his bicycle on 7 Sept 2009.
Filmmaker Chi Too had written to the media to complain that he was turned away by RapidKL staff when he tried to board the train at the Taman Maluri station with his foldable bicycle.
Chi Too claimed that he has been boarding the train with his foldable bicycle for the past year and has never been stopped before. “Like most days, I cycled to the Taman Maluri LRT station and folded up my bicycle like I have for the past year,” he said in his letter to the media.
“Upon approaching the ticket counter, I was shocked that the security guard exclaimed that I could not bring my bicycle into the station. The ticket staff refused to sell me a ticket. Strangely, everyone denied that I had ever brought my bicycle into the station despite my having done that for the past year,” he added.
No pets, bicycles and skateboards allowed in a Melbourne shopping mall (© Lainie Yeoh)
After some amount of negotiations, Chi Too eventually conducted a 30-minute sit-in protest against RapidKL’s policy at the Taman Maluri and Masjid Jamek LRT stations.
His sit-in protest was eventually dismantled by plainclothes security personnel.
“It was obvious that the whole thing was a stunt,” Ebi told The Nut Graph in a phone interview.
“He tried to get on during peak hours. We don’t allow foldable bicycles during peak hours,” Ebi added.
Dirty and dangerous
When it was pointed out that folded bicycles are no larger than prams which are allowed on the trains during peak hours, Ebi said: “Prams are not dirty. These foldable bicycles can be dirty.”
Chi Too’s bicycle, folded up (pic courtesy of Chi Too)
However, many transit systems allow foldable bicycles onto trains and buses at all times with no restrictions. These include the London Undergound, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the San Fransisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority states that folded bicycles encased in “carrying bags, cases or boxes are deemed ‘luggage’ items” and are permitted on trains at all times.
Ebi said however that the situation in Malaysia was different. “We are not like the London Tube. In London, they have so many lines — about 10 lines. There are more options for transport in London.
“Here, there is a two-car system on the Kelana Jaya line and a six-car system on the Ampang line. There are only two lines. It is very crowded during peak hours,” he said.
Chi Too had also claimed that three men and a woman physically broke up his sit-in protest. He said they roughed him up and he finally agreed to leave as he believed he was under arrest. To his surprise, these persons disappeared once he left the station.
Ebi stated that these security officers were known to RapidKL, and denied that they had been hostile at any time.
“The people mentioned in his letter were our polis bantuan. They asked him to leave politely. When he refused to leave, they escorted him and his bicycle out of the station,” Ebi said.
Graffiti celebrating bicycles, dogs, and skateboards in Melbourne, Australia (© Lainie Yeoh)
But Ebi conceded that the security personnel were not in uniform as they were “undercover police”.
Ebi said Chi Too’s protest was unnecessary and obstructive hence, he had to be “escorted” out. “He did a protest in front of the gate. He was sitting in the middle of a very busy area in the pathway (of commuters).”
Both Chi Too and RapidKL’s polis bantuan have since made police reports at the Dang Wangi police station about each other’s actions.
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