KL’s vision is to become a sustainable and liveable city.
Just like other global cities, the undeniable truth is the fact that cities are a major source of carbon emissions and are heavily affected by the consequences of climate change. As custodian, DBKL is taking measures to ensure that our beloved Kuala Lumpur develops in a sustainable direction.
Starting 28 August 2022, KL’s popular shopping hotspot Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (Jalan TAR) has been gazetted as a car-free road every Sunday from 6.00am to midnight. According to DBKL, the pedestrianised road is closed to all vehicular traffic from Jalan Esfahan intersection to Jalan Melayu as part of its efforts to make Kuala Lumpur a low-carbon city. Various programmes have been planned along the pedestrian zone, known for its textile and clothing shops, including live performances, art exhibitions and traditional sports events.
Rethinking transportation arrangements in major cities traces back to a public challenge discussed in October 1994 in the international roundtable “Thursday – A Breakthrough Strategy for Reducing Car Dependence in Cities”, in Toledo, Spain. Subsequently, various Car Free Day programmes started to take place all over the world and September 22 was chosen as the World Car Free Day.
The British Environmental Transport Association (ETA) opened the way by coordinating three annual National Car Free Days in Britain since 1997 while France’s En ville sans ma voiture (In town without my car) programme spearheaded the global movement in 1998. This was followed Germany’s nationwide Car Free Mobility Day – Mobil Ohne Auto, on June 1998, and shortly thereafter followed by Italy, Belgium and many more.
A major milestone came in February 2000 when Bogotá City, Columbia’s first Car Free Day, Sin mi carro en Bogotá, resulted in keeping some 850,000 private cars off the road. The project was later awarded the prestigious Stockholm Challenge Prize for Environment in June 2000. Chengdu of Sichuan Province People’s Republic of China, followed suit with China’s first Car Free Day on 14 October 2000.
The Successes That Follow
The idea for KL Car Free Sunday follows the success of KL Car-Free Morning campaign, another green initiative to promote a healthy lifestyle through recreational sports, arts and cultural activities along the main streets of the Golden Triangle in the city centre every Sunday from 7.00am to 9.00am.
Aligned with Malaysia’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions in support of the ideals of the Paris Agreement and UN Sustainable Development Goals of 2015, KL Car-Free Morning strives to encourage healthy eco-friendly living, strengthen national unity and family bonding. It features closed roads for people of all walks of life to cycle, run, skate or simply walk along the road from Dataran DBKL through 7.5 kilometres of major streets in the otherwise busy zones of KL’s CBD.
KL’s Public Transportation and Emission Woes
As for KL in general, most private citizen’s use cars as the main mode of transport due to convenience and mobility. The public transportation system in the city centre is cheap and efficient however the reach only goes for limited zones for now. LRT and MRT lines are being expanded in order to service more regions and communities in high density areas away from the city centre.
According to DBKL, throughout 2017, a total of 25,094,052 million tonnes of CO2 was released into the Kuala Lumpur air. 56% of the figure (14 million tonnes of CO2) came from the transport sector alone and 99.4% of which are considered on-road transport. This equates to 444kg of CO2 produced by KL’s fossil-fuelled vehicles every second.
This finding is echoed by Beam, Malaysia’s leading provider for electric micro mobility vehicles and advocate for sustainable and eco-friendly transport. Beam emphasises the use of emission-free public transport infrastructure and encouraging the use of emission-free micro mobility vehicles for short and medium distances to support the nation’s carbon-free alternatives in transportation.
KL’s Pledge for Sustainability
Car-Free Day campaigns have been proven to combat continuous air and noise pollution while keeping the emissions low for a day, giving time for air cooling and circulation in the environment. Based on these findings, DBKL is taking major actions via two of its important plans, namely the Kuala Lumpur Low Carbon Society Blueprint 2030 and Kuala Lumpur Climate Action Plan 2050 (KLCAP2050).
Both action plans are carried out by establishing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions profile and the climate hazard profile for the city, while subsequent studies to determine strategies for carbon emissions reductions and key climate risks. These steps formed the basis of the mitigation and adaptation targets to be achieved by 2030 and 2050.
To address KL’s emission issues, KLCAP2050 has outlined several strategies including decarbonising the electricity grid, increasing building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) and transport electrification as an approach in moving away from fossil-fuel motorised vehicles.
The Continuation of Success
As far as Car-Free Days and pedestrianised roads go, the social, environmental and economic impacts have been received positively by KL and its citizens. The programme is set to continue and even expanded to more parts for the city.
Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Jalaluddin Alias had previously told the Dewan Negara on Aug 11 that DBKL was also studying proposals to do the same at a stretch between the shopping areas of Jalan Pudu and Jalan Bukit Bintang following the success of KL Car Fee Day and KL Car Free Morning initiatives. This stretch of retail haven, once implemented, will become fully pedestrianised and connects to the bustling Bukit Bintang and Imbi Junction crowds towards TRX’s Lifestyle Quarter via the already pedestrianised Jalan Bukit Bintang - Jalan Gading to Jalan Barat.