Penang to be first cycling state

Story by Chan Lilian

PENANG leads in good things. In fact, we are even ahead of Singapore!
Those words from Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng drew much cheers and applause from a group of people at the Town Hall where they attended the launch of Penang Bike Share System (BSS) on Dec 18.

“The much-awaited bike sharing system is now available for the people. When the council turned into a city, the differentiation is the availability of a BSS with a dedicated lane for the whole island. This has been carried out and so far 24km of dedicated bike lanes from Tanjong Tokong to the Penang Second Bridge is ready. By 2020, Penang will have 39km of dedicated bike lanes and it will be the first in Malaysia. It is not useful if we have the BSS if we do not have a dedicated bike lane. Both must come together and operate together,” Lim added.
The bike share system is a public-owned and privately-managed model.

Part of the cost of RM1.85 million (90%) is from Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and the rest from part private company Fast Rent Bike.

“Today we witness the kick-off of 60 LinkBike bicycles as an initial stage, where all 250 bicycles will be ready by end of February 2017. The private company is responsible for the maintenance of the system. To become an international city, we must have international standards and continue to maintain the system for the future. No other state has 250 bicycles. Penang must be number one. That is what we are proud of. Penang will be the first bicycle state. This is something that is necessary to differentiate between a municipal council and city council,” Lim said.

The Link Bike system is going to be a huge paradigm shift in urban mobility.
It will serve as a great alternative commute for the public as well as tourists and offers a brand new approach to travel around the Unesco World Heritage city area.

The bike-sharing system aims to tackle traffic congestion as well as pollution and it will start with the launch in George Town.
There will be a total of 25 stations strategically scattered throughout the George Town area and other places on Penang island.
Link Bike is the IoT (Internet of Things) project from MBPP which is designed to best serve the community and the environment.
At the launch, 60 happy cyclists weaved through George Town’s maze of roads and back lanes to get from Town Hall to GAMA and back.
They were led by MBPP Building Control Director Yew Tung Seang, who was instrumental in jumpstarting Penang’s cycling lanes, and Datuk Dr. Lim Seh Guan who provides a lot of helpful advices to the state as he is an avid cyclist who has travelled in many cities around the world on bike.

Councillor Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik, who is chairman of MBPP Sustainable Transport Committee, said: “I find cycling on the shared pedestrian green lane very smooth and easy to use. I am pretty sure most people can use it. One of the areas that we are exploring is the use of back lanes as a network to connect the city.
“Penang is different from other cities in the sense that we are a Unesco heritage site and most of our roads and buildings are not expandable. So, what we can do is to make use of the available back lanes and turn them into attractive cycling lanes.”

Bakthiar also commented on the comparison with Singapore.
“In Singapore, it is different as they have a good MRT network with good public transport. They are more recreational cyclists or those using the bikes as the last mile connection from stations to their homes. However, Penang is unique but we in MBPP will continue to brainstorm and work together with the cycling community to plan the best and safest ways for Penangites to commute by bicycle in George Town and beyond.”

Link Bike is affordable to all at a price of just RM2 for a 24-hour daily pass. You can use any of the bikes for 24 hours with your daily pass and the first 30 minutes of each ride is included in the pass price.
If a bike is kept out for more than 30 minutes, a RM1 fee will be imposed for every subsequent hour.