In a bid to reduce the number of cars entering Kuala Lumpur, plans are afoot to turn a number of major roads into pedestrian-only stretches, with at least 10 roads in the city set to be off limits to private vehicles by 2025.
Studies are being planned, with roads being closed in stages for a trial run over the next five years, the New Straits Times reports. Five roads are due to begin trial closures by the end of the year, including Jalan Raja and Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (TAR).
According to Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan, said the road closures would be modelled after Jalan Masjid India and Jalan TAR’s previous trial closures. The latter’s trial run – which was suspended last year – will be restarted, the plan being to have it connected to Jalan Raja until the intersection at Leboh Pasar Besar.
He added that several stretches in Bangsar, Bukit Bintang and Brickfields will be cordoned off by City Hall to make them more pedestrian-friendly and reduce carbon emissions.
He said the move to pedestrianise roads was necessary as the city was often crippled by traffic snarls. “Kuala Lumpur has a daytime population of three million people. Even with a shortfall and discounting those taking public transport or carpooling, we easily have between one million and three million cars making multiple trips on city roads, and the number is growing,” he told the publication.
Nor Hisham said the gridlock was responsible for turning away weekend shoppers and affected traders and their businesses that were reeling from the blows of a soft economy. He however did not elaborate on whether the closures would entail cordoning off the entire road or just some stretches, and it has yet to be decided if the closures will be carried out on a permanent basis or only on weekends, or a combination of the two.
Asked if public transport such as taxis and e-hailing rides would be allowed on the roads, like how it was during the trial run in Jalan TAR, he said the matter will be studied before any decision is made. He added that an awareness campaign, with public engagement and consultation with stakeholders, was on the cards.
Nor Hisham said pedestrianising the city’s roads was part of City Hall’s transport master plan, which was expected to be completed this year. “That’s part of our vision for the future of the city. It has been done successfully in Singapore and other countries,” he said, drawing examples from the semi-pedestrianised Arab Street and Haji Lanes in Singapore, as well as some parts of London, such as Portobello Road.