Cycle-friendly George Town?


Pedal power could be making a comeback in George Town.

According to George Town World Heritage Inc general manager Maimunah Mohd Sharif, greening in Penang will not be limited to trees. “We want to do something with George Town’s back lanes so cyclists can use them,” she told The Edge. “Cycling is coming back to the city. The back lanes will definitely be of use to them, so this is greening George Town in another way to reduce carbon emissions.”

Well said and worthy of support! I hope such plans will be extended throughout the state, not just George Town.

As for the planting of trees, the GTWHI is also looking at Jalan Kampung Kolam, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling (Pitt Street), Jalan Padang Kota Lama and open spaces like that at the end of Armenian Street.

Incidentally, the cost of the shrubs and 58 trees (a friend of mine counted!) along Carnarvon Street came up to RM76,000, borne by Khazanah. (The Edge reported that GTWHI lacked funds, so it approached Think City. Does MPPP lack funds for greening the island? It seems to have plenty of funds for PICC.)

Instead of all these ad hoc approaches, it is time for MPPP to set up a proper Landscaping Unit and not putting it under Perancang (Planning) or Engineering (that’s where the decorative lighting – sometimes ‘over the top’, fountains, etc come in). A present, the Kebun section is mainly concerned with grass-cutting and tree pruning.

A new beefed-up MPPP Landscaping or Parks and Gardens Unit would allow all landscaping matters to be taken care of properly and competently. It would do away with the present ad hoc approach of applying for federal funding for small landscaping projects or of the MPPP having to follow up with JKR to get things done.

In the meantime, share with us what you think of cycling in George Town. Do you remember a time when a lot more people used to cycle all over Penang? What was it like?

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i like this post as it touches on sustainable living in penang. as an island state, pg cannot keep on bldg roads as it will always pile up in jams no matter where u build it. but to cycle, there are always naysayers saying it does not suit the weather, it rains, it is dangerous etc. however, to wait for the federal funds or for the pavement to be built b4 to cycle, then i think there is a phrase i am learning in singapore which is – “wait long long”. pg ppl has always been resilient and resourceful w/o… Read more »


Practical for cycling in Penang only along the alleys not on the road as motor vehicles will sooner or later hit you based on current attitides of road users. Heritage values enhanced if small lanes of Penang old street closed for motor vehicles and restricted to walking or cycling. However, local authorities fear they can upset shop owners who fear they will lose biz if road not open to motor vehicles. tunglang & nkkhoo, read my suggestions at Penang Street Food section in this blog. Penang government should have no fear or flavour or favour stand with strategic approach to… Read more »


ya, tunglang, thanks for sharing but i think we cant always live in the past…

i hate to drive these days, how i wish our transport system can be like Sg or HK…

At least Pakatan government in Penang is trying ways to improve. A good sign !!!


Sometimes I feel like to share some idiosyncrasies of the past which some of you may not have experienced. It is like telling a short story, a habit accustomed to from the past era of the radio before the advent of the black and white TVs. It was a time of vivid imagination from mere words spoken. I am the lucky few to have a vivid photo+ 5-sensory memory of the past as if they happened yesterday. For your benefit of past lifestyle, most Penang bicycles in the 60’s were of Raleigh brand, imported direct from England, quite heavy but… Read more »


Believe it or not, Malaysia 60’s bicycle, only a few are real Raleigh bicycle,most are China/Taiwan product.But I wouldn’t want the 60’s Raleigh steel frame bicycle, since today bicycle technology and price are way better than the old day.

In fact, car traffic and limited parking doesn’t help increase local trade business and promote tourism. A good transportation system, integrate with cycling culture, will promote the flow of people and business.


I used to frequent bicycle shops in the 60’s and 70’s. And there was one bicycle repair shed behind (back lane) my previous shop house in Macalister Road where I used to play as a child. Didn’t actually seen/heard any China much less Taiwanese bicycles at that repair shop or the first bicycle shop in Carnarvon Street!


IMHO, it is information imbalance in place. Raleigh is never a cheap bicycle. Even today, a simple Raleigh still cost RM1500++. Maybe those day people don’t bother to mentioned the origin of off-brand bicycle, a taboo? Perhaps we need to left somebody to dig up the history for more accurate information.
Nevertheless, Japan bicycle does show a strong present in the late70’s-early 80’s.

Nur Limah

We should gather those ‘green’ fellows and let them cycle under the mid-day hot sun for hours to test their sincerity in abandoning the comfort of the air-con car.


Cars in central George Town have to reduce speed because of many other vehicles and many junctions/traffic lights. This makes it feasible to cycle in town. The roads to the central area are more dangerous for bicyclists. That is why a policy to encourage change of travel mode from bus or car to cycling would work. Bus allowing foldable bicycles, bicycle rental, bicycle security are all helpful.


Sometimes just wonder how come everything is possible with Singapore (some bodoh-sombong has the cheek to call Sg a tiny dot) and with Malasia, apa pun tak boleh except good at one thing, talk talk talk… and yet Dr M had no shame and the slogan – Malaysia Boleh.

Yes boleh for all the wrong things…

Whatever, Anil, please help Pakatan govt to transform Penang, thank you !!!

Yes, to start with no plastic bags is a good move to make Penang cleaner.


What a wishful thinking!

Our national Automobile Policy has made owning a car a dream for average Malaysians. With low loan rate and deposit, anyone can own a car. Afrall, we need to keep Proton profitable to enrich the cronies.

Why cycle under the hot sun?


Do you think after owning a car BY LOAN , improving your quality of life? Especially when one forking 30% of the paycheck to pay for the loan, and not to forget periodical maintenance, depreciation, parking,etc. Car is part of middle income trap.

Nur Limah

It is trend for young people in malaysia to own and drive a car.

The deposit is so affordable. By taking a 9-year loan, one can always lelong the car if one cannot afford to pay up.


The idea is good but the implementation is not that easy. During the 60’s a lot of my classmates and I cycled to school. Traffic was a lot less. Today, not only has the traffic escalated but the manners of the drivers on the road is horrific. The government need to address the bad driving habits and being more vigilant and strict on giving out licences and take bad drivers off the road. I personally have encountered young drivers who are absolutely selfish with no regards for human life. My uncle was knocked off his motorbike by a speeding young… Read more »


Hi snow, just to add to your observation: Profile of bad and deadly drivers in Penang: – Young, male and female. – Impatient, hot-head and egoistic show-off. – Most likely on the mobile phone while driving. – Kiasu. Hate to be overtaken. Love speed. – Habitual overtaking on the left, usually reserved for bicycles and bikes (This is the most deadly and likely cause of accidents) – Mostly Kenari, Myvy, Kancil (being small size, easy to squeeze thro’ traffic BUT deadly and inconsiderate). – Dare devil attitude. Don’t care a damn even facing formidable 4WD vehicles. These species will be… Read more »


Cycling to work, to do errant, or just for the fun of exercise or crazy antics. In the 60’s and 70’s, one could cycle from George Town to Teluk Bahang round about without the fear or trepidation of being knock down from the rear by an erratic Lembu-license car. You could even overtake a slow Morris Minor or Beetle and give it a finger sign! In the mid 60’s, Macalister Road used to be very quiet on typical Sundays, with the occasional vehicles passing by every few minutes. The peace was only briefly disrupted by this lanky, wiry Indian guy… Read more »


May I suggest that RapidPenang allows foldable bicycles to be taken into the buses. I believe that Singapore allows certain models of such bicycles into the buses.


Anil – below dedicated to Sean who was asking about Solar energy…. sorry late reply


Sean 2 July 2010 at 2.51am • Reply I’m interested in this one too. Specifically, how does give-take work for the home generator with TNB? Do they allow you to ‘turn your meter back’ while you’re net producing, or do they install a separate connection for you to generate power on, and pay you by the kWh (about 25sen per kWh, right?) while you pay them for your consumption? *ANS: yes separate connection with the second meter, PV meter. If the latter, do you have to pay for the separate ‘generator’ connection or do they throw that in with the… Read more »


Cycling – theorectically YES.

1. can cyclists stand the sweltering heat?
2. can cyclists take the risks competing with those motorists, cars, public buses, lorries who taunt rules and all?
3. time is precious… how many people will cycle then?

We had also done a “ga-ga thumbs up” on Green-initiatives. How many of you have signed up with state initiated ‘Green Citizenry’and/or practise it fullheartedly If yes – thats great. If not – perhaps I will still say…. errrr-urrrmp! Its easy to be theorectically correct … but difficult to do the ‘practicals’


I got very lucky in the UK and just happened to live in a village about 8km from my workplace that was once on a trainline, abandoned for a long time. The railway land was bought by (or somehow entrusted to?) a charity called Sustrans (I’ve been a paying supporter of Sustrans for 20 years) and had a high quality tarmac finish applied of about 1.5-2m wide. It was tree-lined and not quite direct to my place of work, but utterly free of powered vehicles and obstructions. It was easy to ride in under 20min from my home to city… Read more »


Municipal councils are part of Malaysia 1.3 millions “exotic” government pay check. The over-staff issue spilled all over the place, so I can safely bet, all Malaysia city councils are never lack of staff to do anything. In fact, so called Kebun section is more than adequate, it is just matter of people doesn’t utilise and learn the importance of the section properly. OTH, bare in mind that, making Penang state cyclist friendly, are more than you can ask for. A cyclist friendly city, are create different economic,culture and lifestyle compare to current car-centric urban planning. There is safety concern,e.g.… Read more »


Cycling is OK what!

Look …


Foldable bikes could be also be interesting !


The use of backlanes within the Heritage City for cycling is a very good idea. First, it is safer for cyclists than on the narrow main streets competing with other vehicles. Secondly, it will be a challenge to brush up the housekeeping of backlanes. Thirdly, it will reduce crimes of housebreaking, snatch thefts and drug addicts along back lanes. Let’s not be too ambitious for a start. Select the appropriate back lanes within the Heritage city, plan and do it well before we move on to bigger areas. Let’s learn and improve as we go along; if there is a… Read more »


IMHO, using back lane for cycling lane are stupid idea. First, you must patch the normally inferior back lane. Second, it is not safe. Third, this is discrimination.


I wonder how many of us would cycle for more than 5km to do errant or get to work in the sweltering heat?

Or that we would like to cycle just for the exercise and for fun?

Bicycle track route planning should vary according to the purpose.


Local folks shall know no scorching heat in the early morning and evening.


Take a leaf out of China’s and S’pore’s books. Encourage cycling and plant as many trees as you can.

But please, please, please, PLAN it well! Don’t bring in palms from Saudi Arabia and conifers from Switzerland at exorbitant cost, as the previous Govt in Selangor had a penchant for. Plant indigenous trees like Flame of the Forest, Jacaranda, Acacia etc, which provide leafy shade and create tree-lined avenues.

Learn from nature, not defy it like some GM mosquito devils have done!

we are all of 1 Race, the Human Race


Muar city used to be known as a bicycle city, and at least 90% of my schoolmates cycled to school in 80s. With more cars and other heavy vehicles competing on the road, cycling is dead now in Muar.

Without dedicated lane or road for bicycle, we can kiss goodbye to any cycle-friendly plan.

I like the idea of turning unused back lane to bicycle lane. Let do it in Georgetown first and make it a role model before you asking more cities to follow suit. Any empty talk will not help.


Not George Town I know, but I was in Vientiane for a few days earlier this week and hired an awful bicycle for a couple of days to explore the city. It was wonderful! I think the difference may be in the amount of planning that evidently (once) went into the city. Even walking around was a joy, as the pavements were mostly wide, flat and well-maintained, with the parking of motorbikes and SUVs across them apparently a recent and minority habit. I would heartily recommend anybody take a trip to Vientiane. Of course, the traffic there is much more… Read more »


Try to cycle on the KL roads, you either knock down by other vehicles or breathe more CO2.

I did try to cycle on Singapore road before they built dedicated lane for bicycle, I gave up after one day trial for too risky to compete with other motor vehicles on the crowded road.

Of course you can cycle on the road if you want to shorten your life or commit suicide.


Alternate cyclist lane is a must for Malaysia road, thanks to our motorist driving behavior.

I wouldn’t mind a cycle path that ‘led around the houses’. In fact, when cycling, I try to plot these kind of safe route, but it is impossible in Malaysia not leading into busy main road.

In addition, since I am not a racer, I rarely cycle against the terrain. If possible, I plot multiple route to reduce stressing muscle. Cycling are aerobic sport, not dangerous heavy weight muscle building sport.