5 Reasons Why Malaysians Drive Everywhere
Automologist LING really does enjoy walking, but even she often reaches for the car key instead of her walking shoes. Here’s why…
We’re not big on walking or what we call taking Bus No. 11 (geddit?) here. Even if it was just to buy a loaf of bread and the shop is but a few hundred metres away. Even if it takes longer to search for our car keys, back the car out of the driveway and then look for a parking space, than to simply walk to our destination. Whenever I go on my holidays, I’m more than happy to walk everywhere until my shoes fall off my feet; but the moment those feet step back onto Malaysian soil, they prefer to step on the accelerator than on the pavement. Here are five reasons (okay, excuses) why my fellow Malaysians and I prefer to drive everywhere:-
1) The weather
The tropical weather is both the charm and curse of this country. It’s hot and humid on most days, and very unexpectedly starts raining cats and dog. Tote an umbrella, you say? On a hot day, it still doesn’t stop you from reaching your destination a sweaty mess. And sometimes the wind gets so strong that it blows the umbrella inside out, and it fails to keep you dry during torrential rainfalls.
2) No proper pedestrian/cycling infrastructure
Pedestrian walkways are built as an afterthought in many places. A stretch might appear here and there, but doesn’t exist throughout your entire route. Zebra crossings are nothing but decorative markings on the road; try crossing on one without waiting to see if oncoming cars bothered to slow down and you’ve as good as dug your own grave.
If pedestrian walkways are inconsistent at best, then cycling paths are a joke. I’ve seen a stretch of it in front of Dataran Merdeka that goes on for about 100 metres, and then mysteriously ends. I suppose the cyclist is supposed to levitate from there onwards…
3) Snatch thieves abound
Malaysian Digest reported that the Police receive seven to eight reports on snatch thefts just in the KLCC, Pasar Seni and Bukit Bintang areas alone. Ladies, we are familiar with the rising anxiety whenever we hear/see a motorbike approaching and we instinctively hug our handbags a little tighter. The fear is legit, because there have been many cases of snatch theft victims being dragged behind the vehicle and suffering grave injuries and even fatality.
4) Petrol is cheap
As much as we like to complain about the rising cost of petrol, pump prices in Malaysia is still one of the cheapest in the world. If we have overcome the high entry price for the privilege of car ownership, we only pay RM2.30 or US$0.53 per litre of petrol compared to countries where walking is a common mode of transportation; for instance, in the top three countries where people feel the safest to walk alone at night, pump prices are relatively exorbitant. Our Singaporean neighbours pay US$1.42 per litre of petrol; Hong Kongers have to fork out US$1.93 per litre, while Norwegians pay only slightly less at US$1.84 per litre.
5) It’s just not our way of life
All the excuses aside, let’s face it – we’re just sluggards. The word “Malaysian” might be attached to the adjectives “friendly” and “laid-back”, but never “active” and “outdoorsy”. Even as health trends have swept over our neck of the woods, those of us who has been caught up in it prefer to sign up to a gym than go outside and expose ourselves to the elements.
Do you think these are good enough reasons to keep driving everywhere? Let me know your thoughts.
images: EduAdvisor, asiancorrespondent.com, asianwheeling.com, Pinterest