Scholarly article on topic 'The Cycling Potentials of Malaysian Students in UiTM Campus'

The Cycling Potentials of Malaysian Students in UiTM Campus Academic research paper on "Social and economic geography"

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Abstract of research paper on Social and economic geography, author of scientific article — Nehzat Jalalkamali, Fatemeh Mohammad Niay Ghraei

Abstract In the 21century there exists many reasons that encourage cycling as an environmental friendly activity. Cycling not only decreases the problems created by global warming, it also improves the health and well-being of individuals. A quantitative survey was conducted between the students staying at a campus in one of the Malaysian universities to investigate the potentials of cycling habits between these students. It can be concluded from the respondents’ opinion that the use of bicycle is mostly affected by the topography of the university and the weather constraints.

Academic research paper on topic "The Cycling Potentials of Malaysian Students in UiTM Campus"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 50 (2012) 941 - 949

AcE-Bs2012 Bangkok ASEAN Conference on Environment-Behaviour Studies, Bangkok, Thailand, 16-18 July 2012

The Cycling Potentials of Malaysian Students in UiTM


Nehzat Jalalkamalia and Fatemeh Mohammad Niay Ghraeib*

aDepartment of Architecture planning and Survaying, University Technology Mara,Malaysia bDepartment of Art and Architecture, Science and Research Branch, Islamic azad university, Tehran, Iran


In the 21century there exists many reasons that encourage cycling as an environmental friendly activity. Cycling not only decreases the problems created by global warming, it also improves the health and well-being of individuals. A quantitative survey was conducted between the students staying at a campus in one of the Malaysian universities to investigate the potentials of cycling habits between these students. It can be concluded from the respondents' opinion that the use of bicycle is mostly affected by the topography of the university and the weather constraints.

©20122 Published by Els evier Ltd. Selection and p eer-review underrespons ibility of the Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies (cE-Bs), Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveyi ng , Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia

Keywords: Cycling potentials; UiTM students;campus; Malaysia

1. Introduction

Transportation is the largest source of air pollution in the United States. It creates more than half of the carbon monoxide, more than one third of the nitrogen oxides, and nearly a quarter of the hydrocarbons in the atmosphere (Environmental Protection Agency. 2006). As the number of vehicles on the roads and the number of cars are increasing, the smoke in the sky and the dirt in the air are increasing accordingly. Air pollution is related to life-cycle of cars and trucks which contains the air pollution created during the

* Corresponding author. E-mail address: nehzat.

1877-0428 © 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Centre for Environment- Behaviour Studies (cE-Bs),

Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia


operation of the vehicle, manufacturing, refueling and disposal. The rest of the emissions are related to distribution of vehicle fuel and also refining. Motor vehicles create pollutants like carbon dioxide which increases global warming."Air pollution from traffic at the levels we have today does cause a major health impact," Dr Carlos Dora, of the WHO centre for health and environment in Rome, told a news conference. The report shows air pollution from cars caused 300,000 extra cases of bronchitis in children, 15,000 hospital admissions for heart disease and 162,000 asthma attacks in children in the three countries.

"The growing evidence that air pollution is causing a major health burden adds to the effects of road traffic through noise, accidents and barriers to cycling and walking, and we need to address this head on," Dora added.(Patricia Reaney, Reuters, 16.6. 99)

A lot of studies in the particular issues have been made especially in the European countries as early as 18 centuries. European countries have gone far with urban planning considering cycling in town as a major transportation. This is because it is proven that air pollution caused by the traffics does affect human health. In the article of "Cars, Trucks, Air Pollution and Health", updated on September 2010, driving cars contributes the most pollution to the atmosphere, from air pollution to global warming, water pollution to noise pollution, energy use to urban sprawl and so much more. It is this perspective of the automobile which is the real challenge to environmental issues.

Our quality of life depends largely on the quality of our environment. Some research has done which transport accounts for 25% of the world's carbon emissions and for 33% in the USA. To understand air pollution we can consider a simple schematic that divides big problems into components. Local effects for example could poison human breathing with polluted air. While regional effects are the fallout from airborne pathogens which could give infections from those chemicals. These major problems are now affecting us globally in changing interactions between the atmosphere and sun, weather effects, effects on plants and oceans as well.

As mentioned above, in the 21century there exists many reasons that encourage cycling as an environmental friendly activity. Cycling not only decreases the problems created by global warming such as less pollution and the increasingly energy usage, it also improves the health and well-being of individuals (Austroads, 2005).The studies show that cycling regularly to work (and, by extension, to school and to other regular journeys) is one of the most effective ways for improving the health of individuals, and this also applies to people who do sports and the rest of physical activities.

The result of quite a number of scientific studies assessing the effects of bicycling on levels of physical activity, obesity rates, cardiovascular health, and morbidity shows that bicycling is healthy (Anderson et al., 2000; Bassett et al., 2008; Bauman et al., 2008; BMA, 1992; Cavill et al., 2006; Dora and Phillips, 2000; Gordon-Larsen et al., 2009; Hamer and Chida, 2008; Hillman, 1993; Huy et al., 2008;Matthews et al., 2007; Roberts et al., 1996; Shephard, 2008).

Bicycling accounts for about 1% of daily trips in Australia. (Australian Bicycling Council, 2004; Bauman et al., 2008). That is roughly the same as in the UK, the USA, and Canada, but it is much lower than bicycle mode shares in northern Europe, which range from a high of 27% in the Netherlands to 18% in Denmark and around 10% in Finland, Germany, Sweden, and Belgium (Pucher and Buehler, 2008).

In a study by Daley et al., 2010 the public image of cycling as a barrier or facilitator between regular, occasional and non riders was explored. 70 participants from various groups were selected and a quantitative survey was conducted. Different themes such as 'healthy and fun', 'clean and green', 'dangerous', 'serious business' were chosen linked to the images of cyclists. While there was greater acceptance of recreational riding, riding for transport was not considered as a main activity. There is a need to improve the public acceptability of cycling and change public norms so it is taken into consideration as an everyday activity which can be easily used by nearly everybody.

Cycling has multiple health, environmental, transport, economic and social benefits (Bauman etal., 2008). In order to encourage more people into cycling especially for women, the elderly and children special attention needs to be paid about the danger of road as a preventive (Bauman et al., 2008).

Bicycle is widely used since it is introduced in 19th century. Around the turn of the 20th century, bicycles reduced crowding of traffic by allowing people to commute from more spacious dwellings into the suburban areas. Bicycle riding has significant effect on reducing air pollution because it does not require any use of fuel. Plus, bicycles allow people to travel for leisure since bicycle are three times as energy efficient and faster compare to walking. Cycling is also an effective way to burn calories and stay healthy. In Europe, commuting by bicycle to work is very common and it has been a part of daily lifestyle.

Different countries have different policies to encourage cycling by improvement of their bikeway paths. For example, Sydney in Australia is currently investing $76 million over 4 years to expand its cycling infrastructure, including 55 km of cycle tracks, which provide more separation of cyclists from motor vehicles (City of Sydney, 2007).

However this healthy trend is not common in Malaysia. Instead car and motorcycle are chosen as the means of transport for going to work. It is understood that motor vehicles have contributed to our modern lives in various ways. However it is also a great source of misery. Globally, a quarter of a million people died on the roads every year and ten million were injured, the scale is equivalent to war. Motor vehicles are also the biggest source of atmospheric pollution.

'BEIJING, Nov. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- As the world's biggest carmaker and consumer of automobiles since

2009, China has seen car exhaust fumes quickly rise to become the biggest polluter in major cities. Finding a proper way to reduce air pollution from exhaust gases has become the toughest challenge China has to encounter.

For the first time, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has published the figures of motor vehicle exhaust emissions. The total amount of fumes discharged from motor vehicles in 2009 was more than 50 million tons, and of the 113 key cities for environmental protection, the air quality of one third does not reach the required standard. Acid rains and heavy smog occur frequently in some major cities.' (This short paragraph is taken from an article of Car exhaust hazard from, source from China Daily.)

From the early 1980s till 2009, the number of motor vehicles has increased by 25 times and reached 170 million. Apart from upgrading technology, it is necessary to intensify the public to increase their awareness about environmental protection. Urban planners must stop repeatedly widening roads to make room for motor vehicles; instead they have to start building extra lane for the cyclist and pedestrian.

Effects of gas released from vehicles are explained in an article from National Geographic, title Air Pollution. 'Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is the main pollutant that is warming Earth. Though living things emit carbon dioxide when they breathe, carbon dioxide is widely considered to be a pollutant when associated with cars, planes, power plants, and other human activities that involve the burning of fossil fuels such as gasoline and natural gas. In the past 150 years, such activities have pumped enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to raise its levels higher than they have been for hundreds of thousands of years.' The paragraph is taken from National Geographic, title of Air Pollution, Accessed on 10th October

We might not want our future generation to live in air full of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide which could cause serious health problems. Without this awareness, the effect of the global warming will continue proceeding until melting the icebergs in North Pole which later will increase the sea level as predicted by scientists.

The authorities of Malaysia have done a lot of effort to improve the driving culture for motorists and drivers in speeding and reckless driving. Number of road accidents and deaths increase steadily while road casualties (injured and death) fluctuates throughout year 2000 to 2006. Since motorbikes are well

facilitated in Malaysia, many people can afford having one motorbike. This establishment has contributed to the foundation of the phenomenon of 'mat rempit' (illegal road racing). Introducing bikes as part of major transport in the university would help to encourage in reducing the phenomenon of 'mat rempit' and decrease the total number of accidents in Malaysia.

When a bicycle is used as a replacement for car, cost of living is reduced and it also has environmental benefits, but with the provision of comfort, security, and convenience. In warmer climates, and areas where cars are too expensive or impractical, bicycles provide an effective means of transport. In some cities, bicycles are permitted aboard trains and buses, allowing cyclists to ride at both ends of the commute.

For reducing crowd from the inner city and reducing the global pollution, bicycle helps people to commute from more spacious dwellings in the suburbs. Bicycles are three times as energy efficient as walking and three to four times faster which allow people to travel around the country. Pedestrian- and bicycle- friendly facilities may be necessary to attract for people to choose non-motorized modes to commute from one place to another. Conversely, mixed land use might also encourage bicycle and pedestrian access, but without a convenient and safe non-motorized system it might be less effective to invite people to go out of their cars. A quality urban environment includes safety, proximity and access, and not simply mobility. The streets are relatively narrow and shaded by rows of trees. This slows traffic, creating an environment suitable for pedestrians and bicycles. Appropriate amenities such as restrooms, drinking fountains, benches, bicycle parking need to be provided to encourage and support this use.

In this study, an evaluation on the suitability is undertaken to introduce cycling as a popular and convenient mode of transportation within the UiTM Shah Alam campus as the case study.

2. Cycling in UiTM Shah Alam, Malaysia

In the scope of the proposal which is UiTM Shah Alam campus, issues like climate condition, topography of the campus and location of the campus need to be well taken into consideration. Malaysia has a hot, humid tropical climate with two monsoon seasons, one between October and February and the other from April to October; the latter is characterized by thunderstorms. Temperatures and humidity are high all over the year. This climate condition is one of the factors for comfort of cyclist. Hot weather contributes to sweat and Driving is a luxury. Driving has high costs and it should be a conscious choice.

'It's worth mentioning that it's not all about the bike lanes. They are a fantastic symbol of intelligent urban planning, but Gehl's thoughts and experiences with urban planning in general are far-reaching.'

Factors such as fighting against the heat, dealing with long hot walks between buildings and the discomfort of dealing with crowds of people might contribute to uncomfortable condition of cycling in campus. Studies in master planning of the campus need to be considered in order to approach students to get out of their cars and start using bicycles instead. Pedestrian and bicycle-friendly improvements include bike lanes on main streets, an urban bike-trail system, bike parking, pedestrian crossings, and associated master plans. Planting trees along the side walk could help in creating shaded area for comfort of the users. The most pedestrian-and bike-friendly variant of smart growth and New Urbanism is New Pedestrianism because motor vehicles are on a separate grid.

Location of the campus which is in the middle of city of Shah Alam is the most strategic location comparing to other campuses. This is because commercials areas and shop houses are within walking distance to the campus itself. The campus is also surrounded by housing areas and recreational parks as well. So, bicycle riding could be a good type of transport in reducing the use of fuel-based vehicles.

The bike sharing system could help a lot in promoting the use of bicycle in UiTM Shah Alam campus considering the ground surface of the campus. Hilly sites might become a great factor for the students that use fuel-based vehicles, but by using bike sharing system, students are allowed to commute from higher

ground using bikes while from lower ground to higher one, they could still use buses which are provided by campus. In spite of that, tramp bicycle lift can be useful as well as travelling from lower to higher ground.

The majority of university students living in campuses and use transport reaching to schools tend to use car and motor bike more than bicycle and the number of bicycle riders seems to be apparently less than non- riders. To encourage the students towards the benefits of using a bicycle as the healthiest and the most eco-friendly way to get to school, the reasons of preferring other transports were investigated. A quantitative survey was conducted between the students staying at a campus in one of the Malaysian universities to evaluate the current situation and the potentials of cycling between them. The purpose of this research was to investigate the potentials of growth in cycling habits of students.

3. Visual observation within UiTM campus

Fig. 1.( a) Mawar hostel;(b) Jalan Ilmu 1/1

Fig. 2.( a) S&T Twin Tower;(b) Melati hostel 1/1

Figure 1.(a) is taken next to Mawar hostel while figure 1.(b) is taken from JalanIlmu 1/1 which is heading to the Menara Abdul Aziz Shah from the main gate of the campus. These pictures show that some parts of the campus have walkways with natural sheds. From personal observation it can be seen that none of the walkways in UiTM are covered but some of them are naturally shaded only for certain times depending on the sun path. This is why 27.8% of the surveys say that hot weather will be the major obstacles to the cyclist to cycle in the campus.

Figure 2.(a) is located in front of Science & Technology Twin Tower while figure 2.(b) is taken in front of Melati hostel. These roads have just finished on early year of 2010 from a small road widening. Just next to the retaining wall figure 1(a), the new walkway is built with wider size-around 1.5 meter wide. However, these walkways are neither shaded by trees nor do they have any roof.

Somehow, these walkways need to be widened since they are originally designed only for pedestrians. By comparing figures above, we can see that the walkways provided in the campus are not sufficient and the level of safety is not enough as well. The width of the walkways is only enough for 2 people at one time. More pictures are shown on the next pages to show that most of walkways in the campus are not wide enough for bicycle lane. The standard measurement for the bike lane is 1.8 meters wide; with the wide of pedestrian walkways is 1.5 meters. So the width of these walkways should be 3.2 meters all together.

Fig. 3.( a) UiTM faculty of Law;(b) UiTM Islamic Centre

Figures above also show that walkways of UiTM are not well designed for crowded situation with quite a number of students. Students even have to walk on rough surface (see figure 3.(b)). With no shades at all, this condition will be worse for the cyclists. The temperature in UiTM during noon could reach up to 36 °C. Malaysia has a high level of rain fall, so these facilities provided by the campus might give a difficult situation to the cyclist which gives them the choice of choosing fuel-based vehicles as a type of transportation.

4. Analysis of the questionnaires

A quantitative questionnaire was conducted to a sample of 120 students randomly during summer 2011 to understand the students' point of view about whether or not they use bicycle from the campus to reach to their classrooms and the reasons behind. The students were asked to answer some questions about their current situation, potentials and the challenges of bicycle riding in the campus and whether they have experience of bicycle riding as their transport to reach to their classes or not. The second part of the questionnaire was about the students 'belief about using fuel based transport their effect on global warming and the level of the students 'awareness on that. The students 'campus is located inside the University not having long distance from different faculties and main library and recreational areas.

According to the students' responses about 50% of them chose motor bikes to reach to their classrooms while 25% of the students prefer using public transport .Most of those students who walk to their classes live in the hostels inside the campus while those who use public transport live in rental houses within Shah Alam area. The answers indicate that the majority of the students have no experience in bicycle riding in the campus which means that cycling activity is not so popular among the students of UiTM Shah Alam branch.

The results also show that the majority of the students agree that riding bicycle as their main daily transport is of high potential between them based on the creativity of the way this idea is proposed and how it is presented and maintained by the university authorities. Thirty percent of the students believe that

the bicycle is hard to handle due to some certain reasons and only 24 percent of the respondents find it convenient to ride to the school.

The students' idea about the new approach of proposing bicycle in certain areas of the university with special distances is positive. 47% of them believe that this approach would be successful while 21% disagree with this idea. The result might be based on the current roads of the university which needs improvement to solve the safety issues of the cyclists. The majority of the students believe consider the topography of the university and also the hot humid weather of Malaysia as the challenges need to overcome to improve the cycling situation and encourage the students to that. The survey indicates that the students are mostly aware of global warming issues and its related problems and they agree that the fuel-based vehicles pollute the environment.

5. Recommendation and conclusion

Based on the analyzed data of UiTM condition on pedestrian route, route circulation needs to be improved. The continuity of the route needs to be maintained, zebra cross has to be done visually with color. The size of the route must be 1.5m for pedestrian and another 1.5m for the bicycle lane. Wider walkways are better and more convenient because these walkways can somehow become a meeting place for the students as well. The width of the route must be consistent all along the way. Lamp post cannot be placed at the centre of the route so that no obstruction exists along the route. For the safety of the cyclist, a proper divider should be applied on the cycling route. The form of divider can be in a bright color, or zebra divider be used to give alert to other user of the road. Other than that, grass can be planted as divider between the cycling root and the main road, somehow this approach can add greener footprint to the ground surface. There is also a special need for a modern safe parking area which is mainly dedicated to bicycles at public transport stations and also the need for dedicated bicycle rails inside the university seems inevitable.

As for the comfort of cyclist, trees should be planted more frequently along the side of the route, so that there will be more natural shades. To encourage more students to go out of their cars, street furniture with a proper design can help to improve comfort of the users along the route. This can also happen by increasing more drinking areas along the route and adding more sittings areas or stops for the students to rest for a while before continuing their journey and adding more public restrooms on the way along their destination.

The authorities of UiTM should help introduce new creative eco-friendly system of transport which is the bike-sharing system which can help students to commute from one place to another. Stations should be placed within reasonable distances so that students will have the leisure of commuting by bicycles. This system could also help students to go uphill using buses, and when going down the hill, they can rent the bike. Bicycle lift tramp is another one system which could help students to go uphill without having problem or struggling to ride the bicycle. This system is being successfully used over the years in the University Of Trondheim in Norway as an example.

Although bicycling facilities are costly and expensive, as a global strategy to decrease global warming and reduce greenhouse emissions, the authorities need to help finance cycling facilities in universities as a long term beneficial project.

Aside from weather condition and design of the walkways, another obstacle of cycling in UiTM is the topography of the campus which is in hill site and bumpy. About 70% of the earth surface of the campus is hilly. From personal observation it can be concluded that there exists a need for introducing a new system of bicycle riding in order to handle and solve this problem and also the authorities of the university should try to help solve this problem to further encourage the students towards cycling activities.

Increasing the students' awareness towards the global warming issues is of significant priority. This research is important to make the students who are young and in their early ages aware of how important saving the earth is and make them share their part in the global issue related to everyone in the country.


This study was conducted with help of authorities of University Technology Mara, Shah Alam. Their kind cooperation is highly appreciated. Unfortunately, we are not able to list them all here and thank each of them by name, since we promised them anonymity in order to facilitate their cooperation. The authors want to show their great thanks to UITM students in Mawar, Anggerik and Kenannga colleges which helped us sincerely and patiently filling questionnaires during their exam time. Special thanks and deep appreciation to dear friend SitiNurfatihaBt W. M. Izzuddin for her great help and assistance during all stages of this study.


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