RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: February 2017

The Real Threat: The Hit & Run Driver


Lately I have been thinking a lot about road accidents involving cyclists.  Prompted in part by a 31st January 2017 online survey conducted by the editors of Bicycling, titled How Safe Do You Feel When You Ride?  

A few days ago, there was a tragic accident in which eight young cyclists were killed and eight others seriously injured.  Since then, the topic of cycling and safety has been all over the Malaysian newspapers.

This accident will probably lead to even more non-cyclists asking me if it is safe to ride a bicycle in Kuala Lumpur specifically, and in Malaysia in general.  There is of course inherent risk in any sport.  Cycling is no exception, and due care must be taken when heading out onto the streets to ride a bicycle.

Police statistics show that cyclists make up 3% of road accident fatalities in Malaysia. Interestingly, in Malaysia one is more likely to be killed while riding a motorcycle than while riding a bicycle.  By a margin of 20 : 1.


Pie chart courtesy of Polis DiRaja Malaysia

3% looks like small number, but in human terms it means that some 200 cyclists are killed in accidents on Malaysian roads every year.  That is 200 too many.

Newspaper reports of cyclists killed in an accident with a motor vehicle make for very sad reading.  All too often accompanied by outrage and anger at the revelation that, once again, the cyclist was the victim of a hit and run driver.  The driver flees the scene of the accident, thereby attempting to evade being identified and held responsible.

I cannot find statistics on the prevalence of hit and run accidents in Malaysia, but data from other countries is eye-opening.  The Chicago Department of Transportation reported that between 2005 and 2010, 25% of all bicycle crashes were hit and runs.  “City of Chicago 2012 Bicycle Crash Analysis Summary Report and Recommendations,” (2012)

Over 900 cyclists were injured or killed as a result of hit and run collisions in London in 2015.  Nigel Wynn, “Over 900 cyclists injured in hit-and-run incidents in London last year,”, (November 23, 2016) 

Hit and run accidents appear to be a growing problem.  It turns out that there has not been much research on the psychology of a hit and run motorist.  It may be tough to research because many hit and run drivers are never caught. So, any conclusions can only be partial ones, based on the few who were caught or those who turned themselves in.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of the people who decided not to stay and face the consequences of their actions are those who wanted to avoid interacting with the authorities, at any cost. They may, for example, have been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or were uninsured, or did not have a valid driver’s licence, or had previous driving offences, or were people in leadership positions or celebrities and therefore were averse to the potential publicity.  Meredith Cohn.  “Hit-and-run drivers not uncommon, but not well understood,”, (February 6, 2015)

A comprehensive paper on the topic of hit and run drivers was written by Ludo Kluppels, a traffic psychologist in the Public Affairs, Innovation and Regulatory department of the Belgian Road Safety Institute.


Logo courtesy of the Belgian Road Safety Institute

Kluppels reports that in the vast majority of cases studied, a flood of emotions, including fear, shame and guilt best describes the moment and the first seconds after the impact. Guilt is a very nasty feeling; especially when the consequences of the act are enormous. A strong feeling of guilt can lead to denial, or to blaming the victim (“what was he doing here at this time of day!”; “It’s not my fault, there was nothing I could have done”).

In general, most people have enough self-control to handle these emotions and to act in a responsible way.


In some cases, however, the flood of emotions overwhelm the self-control capacities.  The ‘flight or fight’ instinct kicks in.  The thinking part of the brain (frontal cortex) shuts off and leaves only two alternatives:  ‘run away – flight’, or ‘attack the threat – fight’!  In such a state of mind running is probably the best reaction, and the driver flees the scene.

McLeod, et al report that in that split-second decision, one of the crucial issues is the perceived probability to get away with it. That is why more hit and run accidents take place at night where the lighting is poor, or on more deserted roads where no one else is around.  All these conditions strengthen the idea that nobody has seen what has happened, and that nobody could identify the driver.

Kluppels further states that once the decision to flee the scene of the accident has been made (based on fear of punishment, blame, or on the basis of denial of guilt), it is not very easy to undo this decision. Further reasoning and actions have the tendency to justify the previous one. Even when emotions cool down, the human mind always tries to gain some justification for itself.

A worrying part of Kluppels’ findings have to do with drivers who lack moral judgment. There is a small group of offenders for whom it is not the fear or the overwhelming flood of mixed emotions that leads to an inappropriate decision, but rather a lack of emotion and the human capacity to take responsibility, and to care about others.  Almost every offender in this small group tries to justify his decision with arguments that do not demonstrate high ethical insights.

Kluppels divides the real ‘rational’ hit and runners into two types: the ‘gambler’ and the ‘asshole’.


The gambler is someone who likes to take risks.  He is self-confident and energetic and enjoys playing with the limits.  He feels in control and thinks he can reach the sky. To flee from an accident is a challenge for him (“how high is the risk of being caught?”).  He is challenging fate.  He doesn’t care about what other people say or whatever the consequences may be.


The asshole is a more rational person who simply doesn’t care about other people.  He is selfish and has his own rules.  He is convinced that accidents are the fault of the victims, who are too stupid to properly react to his driving style.  Leaving the scene is a better idea than being unfairly punished.  He lacks empathy with others and is only interested in what affects himself.

Where the first one, in general, loses his gambling behaviour and his light-hearted way of life the moment he becomes a parent, there is not much hope that the asshole will change his egocentric lifestyle, whatever he experiences.  Ludo Kluppels.  “Beyond shame and guilt: What’s inside a hit and run accident,” Belgian Road Safety Institute,, (January 2016)


Photograph courtesy of Paul Squire, Riverhead News-Review

Whatever the reason, motorists who leave the scene of a crash have chosen to prioritize only themselves and what consequences may happen to them.  They have chosen not to render aid to the victim which could save the victim’s life or diminish the impact of their injuries.  This is senseless and immoral.

So can we prevent hit and run accidents?


Given the multiple and poorly-understood motivations behind the hit and run phenomenon, a specific strategy to prevent hit and run offences is not possible. There must be a focus on the issues that lie behind the motivations to flee.

An obvious place to start is to review the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident.  In some places the penalty for driving without a licence, or driving under the influence, (both very common in hit and run incidents), are harsher than the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident.  Thereby perversely incentivizing someone who is unlicensed, or drinking and driving, to flee the scene of an accident.

On the other hand, we shouldn’t be too optimistic about the deterrence effect of high sanctions.  There are many crimes for which the penalty is severe, but the severity of the sanction has a very small impact on the prevalence of offences.

To me, a significant contributor to hit and run accidents, and to many other antisocial acts, is a breakdown in moral codes, citizenship and caring about others.  The stronger our morals, the easier it is to overrule our emotions and to take responsibility.

Unfortunately there is no quick fix for a lack of moral judgment that leads to the inability to discern right from wrong.  Education that emphasizes moral codes, citizenship and caring about others seems to be the only long-term solution.

Right Decision, Wrong Decision Road Sign

Cycle Computers

In May 2009 I bought my first bicycle.  A Trek FX7.5.  Before long the data geek in me was on the hunt for a cycle computer, so I could track speed and distance.  The gadget geek in me narrowed my search down to SpeedTrap compatible models.

SpeedTrap is the Trek / Bontrager name for the ANT+ 2.4 GHz digital wireless speed sensor that fits into a recess in the fork leg of the FX7.5 and other models in the Trek Range.  The Trek Incite 8i was my first cycle computer.


Photograph courtesy of Evans Cycles

In January 2010 I got my first road bike.  I needed another cycle computer to go with it, because the Easton EC90 SLX fork on my new bike didn’t have a SpeedTrap mount.

By that time I was riding farther afield, and had already gotten lost a few times.  So a GPS-enabled device with mapping seemed like a good idea.  DC Rainmaker’s excellent in-depth review of the Garmin Edge 705 convinced me to break out my credit card and get one.

Garmin Edge 705

Fast forward to the end of 2016.  Cycle computer technology has, along with the technology in most consumer electronics, progressed by leaps and bounds since 2009. Today’s cycle computers have touch screens, are Bluetooth and wifi enabled, receive GLONASS as well as GPS signals, function as remote controls for certain lights and cameras, display missed phone call and text notifications, and do a host of other things that the Edge 705 is incapable of.

My Edge 705 is more than five years old.  It still works well, apart from the occasional spontaneous shut down, which I think I cured recently by doing a hard reset.  My Edge 705 does, however, show its vintage everytime I have to tether it to a PC via a USB cable to download ride data to Garmin Connect and Strava.  Newer devices do that wirelessly.

A more serious problem is ever-shortening battery life.  I had taken to carrying a power bank on longer rides.

The DC Rainmaker website was again my source for reviews of potential replacements for my Edge 705.  The Edge 820 is the latest Garmin offering, and DC Rainmaker’s preview post made it an appealing option.  Appealing, that is, until a trickle of negative comments from early buyers turned into a deluge.


Photograph courtesy of Garmin

There were too many issues with the Edge 820 for my liking.  So I decided to buy a Garmin Edge 1000.  That model came out almost three years ago, but firmware updates have given the Edge 1000 most, if not all, of the capabilities of the Edge 820.  And three years should have been enough time for Garmin to flush all the bugs out of the Edge 1000.


Photograph courtesy of Cycle Solutions

Some people complain about the size of the Edge 1000.  At 58.0 x 112.0 x 20.0 mm (2.3″ x 4.4″ x 0.8″), it is not a svelte unit.  But those dimensions give the Edge 1000 a 30% larger display than the Edge 820, which in turn has a slightly bigger display than the Edge 705.  A key consideration, given the age of my eyes.

In November 2016 I went shopping online, and found the best deal at Bike Tires Direct.  34% off the RRP.  An Edge 1000 was soon on its way to me.

My excitement upon the unit’s arrival was quickly extinguished when it crashed and died during initial setup.  I was left with a paperweight.  A major bummer.

A visit to AECO Technologies, the authorized Garmin distributor for Malaysia, did not immediately solve the problem.  The unit would have to be sent to Taiwan for repair, at my expense.  Garmin does not provide a world-wide warranty for the Edge 1000, so I would have to foot the bill for shipping and repairs.



The alternative was for me to send the unit back to Bike Tires Direct in the United States, where the unit may have been repaired under warranty.  I decided to swallow the cost and work face-to-face with AECO Technologies folk, rather than communicate via emails and telephone calls to Bike Tires Direct and Garmin in the United States.

Anyway, the cost to send the unit to Taiwan for repair was slightly less than what I had saved via the discount I received from Bike Tires Direct.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Six weeks later AECO called to say that the Edge 1000 was back.  It turned out to be a new unit, so there must have been something seriously wrong with the unit that failed.

Happily I had no problems setting up the replacement unit.  And it is working perfectly.

It is, however, going to take me some time to decide on my preferred layouts for all the data screens.  With the Edge 1000 you can have five data screens per activity profile, with each screen containing up to ten data fields.  You also have a map page, a compass page, an elevation chart page, the lap summary page, and the virtual partner page.  Each of those special pages allows you to specify two additional data fields on them.

And the list of data fields to choose from is extensive.


Table courtesy of DC Rainmaker

If you set up the maximum of ten activity profiles, you could have up to fifty data screens and fifty special pages to manage.  With a total of six hundred data fields.  Talk about overload!

That is all too much for me.  I deleted all but one activity profile.  For the time being I have turned off two of the five data screens, and three of the five special pages.

If managing activity profiles doesn’t take up enough of your time, you can fritter more time away by going online to the Garmin Connect IQ Store.  You can spend hours scrolling through the Applications, Data Fields and Widgets available there.

This is my favourite data screen layout – for now anyway.  My EDGE is a customizable Data Field downloaded from the Connect IQ Store.  This one data field takes up an entire data screen, but it contains multiple data items which are user selectable.  The analog speedometer is particularly cool.


A final note.

I own two Edge 705s (it’s a long story).  On one unit, some of the threaded plastic holes, where the screws holding the case together are inserted, have cracked.  So four of the six screws are missing.  Garmin no longer stocks spare parts for the Edge 705.  Not even replacement screws.  The advice from a technician at AECO is to use the damaged Edge 705 as the donor of spare parts, as needed, for the other unit.

Fortunately, replacement batteries for the Edge 705 are available from a number of online vendors.  I bought one from  It was simple to install.


Photograph courtesy of BatteryShip

Now have a rejuvenated Edge 705 as a backup for my Edge 1000.  For which replacement batteries are also available.  Contrary to what AECO told me about the Edge 1000 battery being non-replaceable.

A final final note.

Don’t get me started on the 36 hour battery life of Bryton cycle computers.


Chinese New Year 2017 Tour


Danial, Safwan and I kicked off the Year of the Fire Rooster with a three day / two night credit card tour from Kuala Lumpur to Port Dickson, Melaka, and Seremban.


Map courtesy of Strava

On the morning of Day 1, Safwan and Danial rode from Bangsar to the McDonald’s at Ampang Park.  I met them there.  This would be the standard start to each day.  Breakfast at McDonald’s.


Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

The ride along the MEX Highway was quieter than usual.  Being the second day of Chinese New Year, the roads everywhere were relatively empty.

We made a short “nature calls” stop at the Seri Kembangan R&R.  Then another stop at the PETRONAS station in Dengkil, for provisions.

Other than a few stops for traffic lights, like this pretty long wait at the junction of the Nilai – KLIA Highway (Federal Route 32) and Jalan Besar Salak (Selangor State Route B48), we kept moving for the next two hours.


Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Our next stop for a drink and a bathroom was at the Shell station in Sepang.


Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

After that is was over the lumps on Federal Route 5 to Lukut, and then the flatter closing 12km / 7.5km to Port Dickson.  About 100km / 62mi for the day.

It was lunch time when we arrived in Port Dickson.  We had cendol and rojak at Azmi Cendol, and the guys bought cheap flip flops from a nearby shop,  before we rode to the Waterfront Boutique Hotel.


Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

After a shower, in my case whilst wearing my kit so it got a wash as well, I took a short nap.  Then we met in the lobby for the short trip around the corner to Starbucks Coffee.  A venti Mocha Frappuccino hit the spot.

That evening we revisited Restoran Seri Mesra Ikan Bakar for dinner.  We had eaten there during a BCG Tour to Port Dickson.  Fortunately we didn’t have to cycle the 11km / 7mi to the restaurant.  Darshini had made a day trip to Port Dickson, so we had a car ride there and back.

There was the option for another Starbucks after dinner, but I was fading.  We planned a 7.00am start, so I fell into bed and was soon fast asleep.

My kit was dry, and more importantly, not smelling funky, at the crack of dawn.  We checked out of the hotel and rolled the few hundred meters to McDonald’s for breakfast.


Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Melaka here we come!


Map courtesy of Strava

The roads between Port Dickson and Melaka, along Federal Route 5, Federal Route Route 138, Melaka State Route M142, and back onto Federal Route 5, are very pleasant.  The road surface is good, and there isn’t much heavy vehicle traffic to contend with.


Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

33km / 20.5mi from Port Dickson, we crossed the Sungai Linggi, which at that point doubles as the border between the states of Negri Sembilan and Melaka.  We did notice that the road narrowed a bit, and changed colour, once we crossed into the state of Melaka.


Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

We made an early lunch stop at Restoran Kuala Seafood, in Kampung Kuala Sungai Baru.  Not everything on the lunch buffet menu was ready yet, but there was enough on offer for us to fill our tummies.

Our lunch stop, or more accurately, our brunch stop, came about halfway to Melaka.  We made a semi-emergency stop 10km / 6mi further on, at the Petron station in Masjid Tanah.  Danial needed an ice-cream to quell the flames in his stomach from the too-spicy curry he ate at lunch.

We had planned to ride non-stop the rest of the way to Melaka town.  We got to Tanjung Kling before large raindrops began to fall.  We ducked under the first shelter we could find, and waited out the rain.


Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

I was quite smug about having packed shoe covers and a rain vest.  I put those items on as we waited for the rain to stop.  Twenty minutes later we rolled out onto the wet road.  We could hardly have gone more than a kilometer before the road changed to being completely dry, and the sun was out.  I wasn’t so smug anymore.

We had been caught, quite literally, under a cloudburst.  And now it was sunny and dry, and I was getting hot under my vest.  We started making jokes about my rain gear having the power to repel rain.

It was 12km / 7.5mi to Melaka from Tanjung Kling.  There was a traffic jam for most of that distance into Melaka.  I was glad to be on a bicycle.  We stopped on the bridge over the Sungai Melaka for a photograph of the river.  A river that is much cleaner these days.


Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Then it was off the bridge and around the corner to the Fenix Inn.  The bicycle-friendly hotel that we have stayed at before.

Our post-ride routine was identical to the one the day before.  A shower with kit on, a short nap, and then a walk to the Starbucks Coffee next door to the hotel.  The guys even had to buy flip flops.  It turned out that the RM2.50 / USD0.60 flip flops they had bought in Port Dickson weren’t such a good deal after all.  They were more stiff plastic than rubber, and were very uncomfortable.  So the guys left them in Port Dickson.

I was happy to wait until dinner to eat anything.  Danial and Safwan were peckish, and wanted to try the chicken rice balls at Ee Ji Ban Chicken Rice Ball.  I related my disappointing experience with the chicken rice balls at that restaurant.  Ee Ji Ban Chicken Rice Ball has developed quite a name for itself, so the guys thought that I must have been there on an off-day.

They admitted after eating there that they should have listened to me.

Dinner was at the Restoran Ole Sayang, on the recommendation of AiLin, who is a Melaka girl.  AiLin was in Melaka for Chinese New Year, and not only came to Ole Sayang with us, but picked up the tab as well.  We owe you one Ailin.  Thank you.

A Starbucks was between the restaurant and out hotel, so we stopped for coffee and cake.  There were some brief thoughts of going on to somewhere else after Starbucks, but common sense, and age in my case, caught up.  I needed to get to sleep if I wanted to be ready for another 7.00am start.

Guess where we went for breakfast on Day 3?


Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

The sharp-eyed will have spotted that Safwan had packed a second set of cycling kit.  Danial and I stuck to our wash-and-dry routine.  Which worked yet again.


Map courtesy of Strava

Our route out of Melaka to Seremban took us onto the AMJ Highway (Federal Route 19).  A road which is characterized along its entire length by rolling terrain.


Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Compounded on the day by a headwind that blew all the way to Seremban.  All that up and down riding against the wind was thirsty work.  We stopped at the R&R at Simpang Ampat for a cold drink.  We had covered all of 31km / 19mi.

The sun had come out in full force while we were at the R&R.  I pulled on my arm screens, and made a mini keffiyeh out of a bandana to keep the sun off the back of my neck.  Of course, as soon as we got going, the cloud cover rolled in and blocked out the sun.

We were blessed with excellent rising weather over the three days.  Apart from brief periods of bright sun, we rode in overcast and cool conditions.  We think my bandana was the charm.


Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Our plan was to hop onto the KTM Komuter at Seremban, rather than ride all the way back to Kuala Lumpur.  After 39km / 24mi we turned left off the AMJ Highway onto Jalan Seremban – Tampin, which roughly paralleled the rail tracks we would be on later.


Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

The guys were hungry at about the 50km / 31mi mark, so we stopped at Isyani Café in Rembau.  They devoured large plates of fried rice, and I sucked down a couple of iced Milos.

There were 30km / 18.5mi to go to Seremban.  Or more precisely, to Restoran Nelayan Seafood, which is where Danial wanted to have lunch.  That restaurant is well-known for its masak lemak dishes, which are a Negri Sembilan speciality.  A variety of meats, fowl and seafood are cooked in a coconut milk and bird’s eye chilli gravy, which is coloured a rich yellow by turmeric.


Photograph courtesy of

The guys ate well.  Luckily it was only a few hundred meters from the restaurant to the train station.


Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki


RM11 / USD2.50 each for ourselves and our bikes, and we were in air-conditioned comfort for the ninety-minute train ride to the Bank Negara station.


Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

I skipped eating at Restoran Nelayan Seafood.  I was looking forward to the Lamb Balls and Egg at Born & Bread Café.  A mere 4km / 2.5mi from the Bank Negara station.  Admittedly through some heavy traffic.  It was worth the wait and the ride!


Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Three happy guys, ready to do it all again sometime soon.