Profiles: Meet Shaun and Jeff
At the next instalment of #BetterCities Talk, we have selected topic of “Alternative and Sustainable Transportation in Greater Klang Valley”. The broader issue of sustainable transportation involves a myriad of factors including: amongst others, public transit reliability and infrastructure, fuel prices, cost of vehicle ownership, et. al.
So, what the immediate, practical ways of encouraging alternative and sustainable modes of transportation in our city? #BetterCities invites two speakers to present their projects, which we believe contribute to sustainable transportation in our city. They are Jeffrey Lim, creator of Cycling Kuala Lumpur, Bicycle Map Project, a crowdsourced bicycle route-mapping project to encourage a more cycle-able Kuala Lumpur and Shaun Lim, developer of Orbiting, a ridesharing app to encourage carpooling through social networks, currently on a closed beta release.
#BetterCities spoke to both the speakers, Shaun and Jeffrey to find out more about their projects.
Shaun wrote us an email back in July, expressing intrigue and support for the ethos behind our initiative, from collaborating to improving lives in our city. After an initial meeting, we invited him over to our studio for a sharing session. Since then, we have been keenly waiting for his app, Orbiting, to launch.
#BetterCities: Shaun, why did you start Orbiting?
Shaun Lim (SL): While I am not completely averse to driving, there are certain times and places when I would rather not be driving due to the increasingly congested roads. When stuck in traffic, if you look around, you will notice that the majority of vehicles around you are Single Occupancy Vehicles (SOVs). This would be one of the main causes of traffic congestion. However, all these SOVs on the road are not heading towards entirely unique destinations; many are likely headed towards the same direction if not location. I started Orbiting after thinking about this. Orbiting is a crowdsourced transportation platform linking people travelling towards the same destination or general direction in an attempt consolidate and reduce the number of vehicles on the road.
#BetterCities: What is your objective / goal upon launching Orbiting?
SL: As this requires a change in the mindset of the people, something that can be challenging, I have very modest expectations. In a study back in 2007, it was estimated that the number of SOVs passing through the MRRI and MRRII highways alone were close to 1.7 million daily. This figure is definitely higher today and even higher still when you include other highways. If I could get anywhere close to reducing the number of vehicles by 1% within a 2 year period, I would be happy enough for a start.
#BetterCities: How many beta testers do you currently have?
SL: There are currently close to 100 registered users but the balance in terms of driver-passenger ratio as well the locations people move about in is not quite there at this point in time.
We first met Jeffrey Lim at a weekly city cycling group organised by landscape architect, Ng Sek San, back in 2012. We interviewed Jeff for one of our earliest project, a short documentary profiling different urban cyclists: Tribes. His project, Cycling Kuala Lumpur, Bicycle Map Project will be available for free at the end of 2013.
#BetterCities: How long have you been working on the Bicycle Map project?
Jeffrey Lim (JL): It’s now been over a year since I started the project. The first inkling started in the beginning of 2012, printing out google maps marking routes out. June 16 2012 was when I first started plotting out a study area. That makes it 15 months since initiation.
#BetterCities: What do you hope to achieve with the Bicycle Map project?
JL: The bicycle map was initially started out to be a route planner, sharing suitable cycling routes to any cyclists wanting to get around KL. I hope this project would give us a confidence boost, that we are capable of getting around town on a bicycle. As the project matured, it became more than just a physical map, but a tool, a connecting point. It is becoming a socio map project which is linking up so many different genres of cyclists, advocating and activism. It has become a project connecting the ‘living’ dots of cycling in KL.
#BetterCities: What is the most difficult challenge faced?
JL: It takes an immense amount of man-hours/ work to get it done, a monumental task which I failed to foresee. What seemed like a simple project of just collating routes is turning into a huge complex design job. Designing a base map from scratch to compiling and surveying, promoting and advocating, distribution & production to writing & editing a simple guide to Cycling KL. What was something I did in my spare time is now my full-time occupation. Although I thoroughly enjoy every second of it.
The talk will be happening this Sunday, 13 October, 10:00am – 12:00pm at Genovasi, Lot 2A, Jalan 13/2, Petaling Jaya. For more information, please visit our Facebook event page: http://bit.ly/bctalks3