(picture credit: foursquare.com)
Blink and you might miss it. If you’re in a rush, you may even drive straight over it, thinking you’ve run over a poorly constructed and ill-placed speed bump.
Located at the far end of Jalan 222 in Petaling Jaya, at the intersection of Jalan 229, is what could possibly be the smallest roundabout in the Klang Valley – if not the entire country. Placed there some decades back in circumstances most would define as an afterthought, you would imagine that its imminent removal would hardly matter to any living being.
Citizens of PJ, however, are making it clear that the diminutive structure is, in fact, a very big deal.
When news broke that the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) plans to replace the roundabout at Jalan 222 with a (you would think) more sensible set of traffic lights, the internet was suddenly alight with protests from hundreds of PJ’s denizens, citing its “iconic” status and uniqueness as key reasons why it should stay.
Officially known as the Baiduri Roundabout (though this term is rarely used to describe it), protesters on the net say the little roundabout with a 2-meter circumference is close to their hearts, having been a feature of the landscape for so long. They also believe it gives the neighbourhood a sense of novelty.
Many have taken to social media to express dismay at MBPJ’s plans to replace it. Some have even begun sharing fond memories and experiences with this tiny landmark.
Commenting on a major local daily about whether these views would be taken seriously by the City Council, MBPJ engineering director Ismail Shafie diplomatically said the authorities would always be “open to public views”.
Those who have pleaded for the roundabout’s preservation said that it has been “Jalan 222’s” trademark, and despite its small size, there has never been a major traffic issue or accident in the area.
There is even talk of an official petition being initiated to save the roundabout.
In general, however, local councils across the Klang Valley are beginning to do away with roundabouts as they are proving to be inadequate in this age of rising urban traffic. Many of them have already been removed in major intersections because they were causing major gridlocks.
Despite this, many PJ citizens say that while traffic at Jalan 222 is slow at times, the volume still does not justify the need for traffic lights.
Not everyone supports this point of view though. Some say the structure is so small, it could in fact cause an accident for those unfamiliar with the “local terrain”.
“There was a time when you could comfortably drive over it if you didn’t notice it. These days it is more pronounced and if you ran over it, it would be quite a jarring experience, and the driver would certainly panic,” said one local who lives in the nearby Jalan Templer locale.
While MBPJ has officially confirmed it will be removing the roundabout and replacing it with traffic lights, it has not yet set a date for the exercise.
According to city council, it is a necessary move as statistics show that traffic at that junction has increased by 20%-30% in recent years.