The Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) hopes that Malaysian motorcyclists will ultimately be shifted to public transport, MIROS chairman Wong Shaw Voon said at a press conference today.

“We hope that in the future, we can move this group of road users from the most dangerous mode of transport to the safest mode [of transport] which is public transport, such as rail,” Wong said today.

The chairman of MIROS concedes that this is a difficult goal to achieve, especially in the rural areas, however the institute “would like to get support from everyone” in order for road users to choose the safest means of travelling such as by choosing the safest possible cars, or the safest modes of transport available, Wong continued.

“In Malaysia, we have groups of motorcycle riders who commute every day over long distances. For example, they may live in Serdang or Kajang, and they may work in Shah Alam, and they have go to work every day by motorcycle. That is a long distance and many hours of travel [on motorcycle required], which is not really safe and not healthy for the rider,” the MIROS chairman said as an example.

Prolonged riding of motorcycles, after a few years, may expose motorcyclists to musculoskeletal disorders such as shaky hands, back pain, numbness and more, Wong added.

Of all the available modes of transport, public transport by rail remains the safest mode of transport, especially when compared to motorcycling, said Wong; this means “a [public transport] network that is good enough” is needed, and while public transport ridership has increased, it is still not enough, he said.

While it is unfeasible to expect entire public transport networks to be grown in short order, there is a roadmap for the expansion of public transport, however road users can be encouraged to increase their use of public transport, Wong said.

Citing an academic group report on road safety presented to the Stockholm Global Minsterial Conference on Road Safety, the MIROS chairman said that one of the recommendations relates to modal shift, or the shift in the mode of transport used.

According to Wong, companies in some countries offer employees allowances if they reside close to their workplace, which enables them to walk or cycle to work, and is a practice that should be encouraged.

Wong cites common Malaysian practice as a contrast, where employers typically offer fuel and highway toll fare allowances for staff who reside further away from their workplace, thus encouraging them to stay further away from the workplace and having to commute longer distances as a result. This will also lead to delays due to traffic – and thus productivity losses – when staff need to spend more time in traffic. “That is where things should change,” he said.