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Page: Penang mulling over No-car Zone

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September 14, 2010

Penang mulling over No-car Zone

By JEREMY TAN
north@thestar.com.my 
Photos by GOH GAIK LEE

 

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AFTER the No Plastic Day, the state government is mulling over a ‘No-car Zone’ to make Penang a cleaner and greener state while also to promote a healthy lifestyle.

State executive councillor Lydia Ong Kok Fooi said certain parts of the heritage zone in George Town and historic Esplanade could be made a no-car zone on Sunday mornings.

“The proposal is still at a preliminary discussion stage. If implemented, the no-car ruling will be applied from only 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 to other times when roads are packed with cars,” said Ong, who is Youth, Sports, Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman.

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 Doing it with style: Some of the participants enjoying themselves by taking a trishaw ride.

Additionally, she 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.

“This will be a great way to see, experience and enjoy Penang, while also help to attract more visitors,” she said.

State Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow, who was also present for the flag off on Sunday night, said that although the state was currently unable to provide a dedicated bicycle lane, various efforts had been undertaken to ensure the safety of cycling enthusiasts.

“We are promoting a responsible, road sharing concept instead, to ensure that motorists acknowledge the presence of cyclists.

“Though their numbers may not be huge, there are still a lot of cycling lovers out there,” Chow said.

He added that although cycling is now a popular sport and leisure activity, more facilities and infrastructure are needed before it becomes a viable means of transport for work commutes.

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.

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Relaxed riders: Participants of the Colours of Malaysia Lantern Bicycle Night Ride and Competition setting off on their 6.1km route.

The 6.1km route saw them leave New World Park and on to Hutton Lane, Transfer Road, Sri Bahari Road, Penang Road, Farquhar Street, Light Street, Jalan Tun Syed Shah Barakbah, Beach Street, Chulia Street, Burmah Road and back.

But despite the large convoy, the most eye-catching aspect was the colourful and beautifully decorated bicycles, tricycles and trishaws.

It was a novel sight, with some adorned with lanterns while others flickered with neon and LED lights.

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

Epitomising the 1Malaysia spirit, he even wore a Baju Melayu and songkok.

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Colourful winner: Heng putting the final touches to his two bicycles that are hooked together and covered with a canopy.

“It took me over a month to finish the decorations. It didn’t cost much, but it took a lot of effort. I didn’t expect to win anything, I joined just for the fun of it.

“My bikes’ decorations are a 3-in-1 tribute portraying the 1Malaysia concept, while also celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day,” said Heng, who cycles every morning to meet up with friends for a cup of coffee.

Second placed Chew Seng Lye, 54, a utilities technician, put his knowledge to good use by decorating his bike with electronic gadgets, neon strips and even indicator lights which cost around RM200 and took about three weeks to complete.

“I had only been cycling for about 6 months. After retiring, it’s a good way to exercise,” Chew said.

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 Eye-catching: Lum getting his bicycle ready for the night ride. 

In third was taxi driver Lum Meng Khuan, 65, whose bike symbolised the peace and unity enjoyed by the country, something he feels every citizen should be thankful for.

“I love cycling and have been doing it since my schooling days,” Lum said, adding that he spent four days and just under RM10 to get the look he wanted for his bike.

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Consolation prize winner: Giovana Niap Xin Yi decorating her bicycle.

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