Proposal for “Sunday no-car zones” for Penang (Update #1)

Update: A more detailed article, “Penang mulling over No-car Zone” can be found in Star Metro North section. It also includes more photos of the Colours of Malaysia Lantern Bicycle Night Ride and Competition

TRANSIT took note of this very interesting article, in which Lydia Ong Kok Fooi (EXCO member & Youth, Sports, Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman) mooted the idea of “no-car zones” for Sunday mornings in the Heritage Zone and Esplanade areas of Georgetown.

Ong mentions that traffic volumes are already low on Sunday mornings and the air is pleasant without the large numbers of cars on the road (as at other times of the day and week).

Penang may have No-car Zone Day too (The Star)
Tuesday September 14, 2010
By JEREMY TAN

GEORGE TOWN: After the “No Plastic Day”, the state government is mulling over a “No-car Zone Day” which would bar cars from being parked in certain areas here.

State exco member Lydia Ong Kok Fooi said certain parts of the heritage zone here and the historic Esplanade could be made no-car zones on Sunday mornings to make Penang a cleaner and greener state while also promoting a healthy lifestyle.

“The proposal is still at a preliminary discussion stage. If implemented, the no-car ruling will only be applied from early morning till noon,” she said after flagging off the Colours of Malaysia Lantern Bicycle Night Ride and Competition at New World Park.

“There is usually minimal vehicular traffic around the Esplanade on Sunday mornings. Some parties have remarked that they noticed a difference in air quality compared with other times when roads are packed with cars.”

Bright and beautiful bikes: Some of the participants in their multi-coloured and brightly-lit bicycles at the Colours of Malaysia Lantern Bicycle Night Ride at New World Park here on Sunday. Image courtesy of The Star.

Ong, who is Youth, Sports, Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman said the state was also looking into turning New World Park into a one-stop cycling centre, where people park their cars, hop on a bike and ride around the city.

“After that, one can indulge in the array of hawker food, which the centre is famed for,” she said.

State Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow, who was also present for the flag-off, said various efforts had been undertaken to ensure the safety of cycling enthusiasts.

Meanwhile, almost a hundred participants turned up for the second edition of the annual night ride, organised by the Penang Cycling Lifestyle Society in conjunction with the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Retiree Heng Tong Leen, 65, emerged victorious for his unique two bicycles hooked together with a canopy on top, adorned with glitter, lanterns and flags.

“It took me over a month to finish the decorations. It didn’t cost much, but it took a lot of effort. I joined just for the fun of it,” said Heng, who was dressed in a baju Melayu and songkok.

TRANSIT Says:

As you can imagine, TRANSIT stands in support of all kinds of transport, from “traditional” (the private car or motorcycle) to “public” (buses, taxis and rapid transit) and “alternative” (bicycle, trishaws – even though they are traditional – and walking – even though it is natural for us). So when a proposal like this one comes along, we definitely want to say “yes, do it and do it soon.”

Who knows, if Penang really does implement “no-car zones” on Sunday mornings, the air in Penang will be a little bit clearer, the food will taste a little bit better and the Penang experience (which has drawn so many people to Penang from Malaysia and all over the world) will be that much sweeter.

Of course, TRANSIT hopes that people will be persuaded to make use of “alternative” and “public” transport – namely RapidPenang buses and privately owned bicycles.

Who knows, perhaps in a few years we will see bicycle racks (like these) on RapidPenang buses – or maybe a cycle hire programme like Bixi (Montreal, Toronto and other cities – www.bixi.com) or Barclay’s Cycle Hire (in London).

Your thoughts are of course welcome. Please comment below

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