BICYCLE lanes are coming up, but many Penang cyclists are still not embracing their pedal-and-chain vehicles as a mode of commuting.
More than 500 cyclists joined Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on a celebrative ride on the 1.55km dedicated bicycle lane from Persiaran Karpal Singh to Gama Supermarket and Departmental Store in Datuk Keramat Road on Saturday.
When asked about their readiness to commute by bicycle, most of the cyclists interviewed were naysayers.
“Cycling is a sport for me. I prefer off-road mountain bike rides. In Butterworth where I live, there are too many cargo container lorries on the roads to ride,” said Bernard Lim.
St Nicholas Home executive director Daniel Soon said he lived near Jalan Masjid Negeri and had frequently contemplated cycling to office in Bagan Jermal Road.
“The problem is that I have to carry my notebook. If it rains while I am cycling, it may get damaged,” he said.
Cyclist Kenny Theng, who is deputy senior sales manager of an electronics company, said bicycle commuting would suit people who worked in an office or factory.
“For salespersons like me who have to move around, we need to use cars. We also can’t wear clothes suitable for cycling because of company dress code.”
The only cyclist interviewed who was a bicycle commuter was assistant company secretary Loke See Mun, 23.
She said she plied a 6km route daily between Jalan Datuk Keramat and her office in Pulau Tikus.
“My colleagues respect me for being a bike commuter, but they had turned down the idea whenever I suggested it to them.”
Loke said that after being a bicycle commuter in Penang for over a year, she felt that most of her friends were against the notion mainly because of the inconvenience of sweating and the risk of bad weather.
“A lot of Penangites are cyclists but they perceive cycling as only a sport or recreation and will not ride to work.”
She said she had adjusted her lifestyle to bike commuting, noting that she did used a rainproof bag and did not wear skirts.
“When pedalling to the office, I don’t go fast to avoid sweating too much. I keep my high heels in the office and wear sports shoes to ride. I also a carry a raincoat all the time and keep a close eye on approaching rainclouds.”
She said being a bicycle commuter had saved her a lot of time and money moving about George Town, but felt that without incentives, most people would not abstain from the comfort and convenience of cars.
When launching the bicycle lane, Lim said that it cost the Penang Municipal Council RM4.6mil to build 1.1km of the route while BHL Waterfront Sdn Bhd had contributed RM100,000 to build a 450m stretch of it.
The lane features segregated cycle tracks free from motorised traffic except at road intersec-tions and also a 70m concrete-and-steel bicycle and pedestrian bridge across Sungai Pinang. Only about 250m of the lane is painted on an existing road in Jalan C.Y. Choy.
The lane is part of a 12.5km bicycle lane from Queensbay Mall to Komtar.