Cycling Malaysia: An Introduction to Putrajaya

One of my favourite places to cycle besides my own backyard in Kuala Lumpur, is the new administrative capital of Putrajaya. The brainchild of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the city was built at an initial cost of 8 billion dollars, and remains Malaysia’s largest project, and one of the region’s biggest.

Putrajaya can be reached via a number of highway routes, which translates to a 40km+ drive, depending on where you are coming from. All these routes are easily navigated using mobile apps, and there are a number of free parking places once you arrive. However, I have to admit that for urbanites in the larger Klang Valley area, it’s a bit far to drive for the sake of a ride.

There are some cyclists that actually ride all the way to Putrajaya via the MEX highway, but I cannot condone this practice. I drive along this route on a regular basis and have seen speeding cars run off the road and more than one accident. Cyclists HAVE been run down on this highway before, and you never know when you’ll be similarly unlucky.

If you have a folding bicycle which can be covered properly to masquerade as luggage, you could most likely take the Express Rail Link into the Putrajaya Sentral station and cycle out. This was a trick we and other cyclists employed successfully while using Japan’s train systems, which are notorious for strict enforcement of rules. Full sized bikes however are not likely to be allowed on board the ERL, as with most other train systems in our country. ERL’s rules only state that each passenger is allowed 3 pieces of luggage, weighing no more than 30kg each. Buses running from KL to Putrajaya are available, from a number of locations, namely connecting train stations or from the city centre itself, but if you're taking a bicycle with you, always check beforehand to see if they allow it in the cargo space.

Why Putrajaya?

 Panoramic views at a hidden vantage point.

Panoramic views at a hidden vantage point.

Designed to be an Intelligent Garden City, Putrajaya covers more than 4,900 hectares, and has a massive network of roads that can accommodate both motorized vehicles and bicycles safely, with wide boulevards that are connected by a bicycle lane. The city is urban utopia for the ones lucky enough to work and reside there. And while I’m not one of the fortunate ones who can enjoy the benefits of what the government has utilised my taxpayer funds for, I do get to use them occasionally. I am often in the area to see family, which means I get to kill two birds with one stone by squeezing in a quick ride.

 The Palace of Justice framed perfectly in the manicured garden and entrance to the Iron Mosque.

The Palace of Justice framed perfectly in the manicured garden and entrance to the Iron Mosque.

While KL has sporadic pockets of Malaysia’s heritage, Putrajaya is the exact opposite, featuring newer architectural wonders, mostly housing government ministries and agencies, concentrated in the administrative nucleus in precinct 2.

The central core district features different architectural styles, none of which are local, but a mix of European, Moorish, Persian and modern. Only the Pullman Putrajaya showcases the Malay design style.

 Seri Gemilang Bridge and the path that runs under it.

Seri Gemilang Bridge and the path that runs under it.

Putrajaya has 8 bridges, which are each works of art on their own. One of our favourite cyclist bloggers AhPek Biker has documented a route that will allow you to cover all 8. Alternatively, he’s also mapped out other rides of varying distances in Putrajaya.

If you’d like to go with local groups, there are some you can reach out to:

https://www.facebook.com/customscyclingclub/

https://www.facebook.com/Putrajaya-Cycling-Community-174850289286903/?fref=ts

http://putrajayaurbanriders.blogspot.my

https://www.facebook.com/groups/140122892841905/

https://www.facebook.com/Ppjcyclingteam/

For organised events, you can usually find more information at the Putrajaya Cycling Association. 

Even without local guides, your ride in Putrajaya can be as long or as short as you want. Head there in the evening on weekends and you’ll find a number of fellow cyclists on all manner of bikes, often riding in large groups of up to twenty people. Here’s a bit of a breakdown: the road cyclists favour the long roads where they can really stretch their legs, the MTBs can be seen on both the roads and on the bike lane that snakes around the man-made Putrajaya lake, while most of the foldies will stick to the bike lane.

 Marina Putrajaya.

Marina Putrajaya.

My favourite route

For a scenic and leisurely ride around Putrajaya, my ride usually starts from the Taman Seri Empangan park located right beside the Seri Gemilang bridge. From there, the route takes me through the waterfront areas of Marina Putrajaya around the Pullman, followed by a quick sprint through Lebuh Gemilang and Lebuh Wadi Ehsan to get to the main island.

 A fairly easy and scenic 30km route around Putrajaya.

A fairly easy and scenic 30km route around Putrajaya.

Once in the main island, it is a leisurely 10km route all the way around. You can choose to go clockwise or counter clockwise around the island. Either way, it is a flat route that is shared by both pedestrians and cyclists with plenty of scenic stops and park benches overlooking the water. A particularly nice stretch is along the northeast part of the island with a great view of the Putra Mosque and the Prime Minister's office.

For a bit more distance and scenery, I also like to go along the straight stretch that cuts through the center of the island. This is the main boulevard where many of Putrajaya's architectural works are on display, and there is an open air food court near the Putra Mosque for dinner and refreshments! Overall, this north-south stretch is 5km going one way. Double it up to make it an even 10km. I usually start at the south of the island, head north to the Putra Mosque, make a pit stop at the food court, and head back south. Along the route there are other food kiosks and public toilets too.

Bike rentals

If you don’t have your own set of wheels or find yourself in Putrajaya without a ride, there are a lot of bike rentals around the city.

Additionally, KMX carts are available at the Cruise Tasik jetty.

There is also said to be a bike rent facility at the Putrajaya Sentral station itself, but I have not been able to verify this information.

There have been some complaints over the quality of these rental bikes, some of which are faulty or even unavailable completely. Always have a backup plan in case your first choice is not available. Another thing to remember is that with rentals, you are usually restricted to cycling in designated areas only.

Going extreme

If you’re not into urban or road cycling, Putrajaya Challenge Park has a 30 hectare area of former rubber and oil palm plantations, now dedicated to Mountain Bike Trails, ranging from easy to difficult. For BMX riders and stunt bikers, there is a Skate Park and Thrill Park where you can do tricks to your hearts’ fancy. Bike rentals are supposed to be available here but no one I have called seems to be able to confirm this, and most folks come equipped with their own. The venue doesn't have it's own website either, which I find fairly odd in this day and age.

Several pointers

 Eka braves the hot mid-morning sun lakeside.

Eka braves the hot mid-morning sun lakeside.

Whether you are cycling in a park, around the lake or on the road, remember that Putrajaya gets fairly toasty on normal days, so make sure you either have enough water supply or stop for drinks to rehydrate. The climate has cooled considerably as the trees there have grown bigger, but it will still be a long time before the temperatures return to what they used to be before the massive metropolis was built.

This means evening visits are best for Putrajaya, which is also when all the buildings and main areas are lit up beautifully. On weekends it is particularly crowded around precinct 2, and the more scenic areas. The roads heading into the Prime Minister’s colossal complex, Perdana Putra and the bubble gum pink Putra Mosque are shut to cars after a certain hour at night, which makes it a nice private area to cycle around. Make sure you have the proper front and rear lights, as it can get pretty dark especially around the lake itself. Group rides are preferable at night, for obvious reasons, but on the whole it is a fairly safe area.

And being Malaysia, there is obviously a maintenance issue, so cyclists will have to be on the lookout for broken tiles, cracked and uneven pavement, metal grills that your tyres can get stuck in, and construction debris. There are also some sections where the lakeside bike path splits into ramps and stairs, sharp turns and concrete structures or tree planters jutt out at odd angles. Keep all these possible obstacles in mind, and you’ll enjoy yourself just fine.

Head here to see more shots of our rides in Putrajaya!

Meanwhile if you're big on urban cycling, check out these other articles:

Cycling Kuala Lumpur

Cycling Singapore - East Coast Park

Cycling Tokyo

Cycling Taipei