Cycling in Penang is best done in the amazingly charming city of Georgetown, Penang’s capital. This historic city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for having beautifully preserved colonial buildings, houses, shops, temples, and cathedrals. Even the neighborhood streets are old, giving tourists a chance to experience how it was living here during colonial times. A city as inviting as Georgetown is best toured on a bicycle. Scenic Georgetown is definitely the first and prime reason to try cycling in Penang.
Cycling is not only an enjoyable activity but it is also eco-friendly. Penang is a bustling city, and so it is expected to be noisy and traffic to be crazy. Penang drivers are not the most courteous in the world. Honking also is not a strange thing to do. On a bicycle, on the other hand, nobody is harming Mother Nature: not in smoke emission, noise pollution or possible physical harm to other people.
Another ride that comes close to the scenic and cultural experience that a bicycle ride offers is on a traditional trishaw. A trishaw ride, however, is a bit expensive and scary. Trishaw operators are known as “Kings of the Road” because when they drive, no one and nothing in the world (or on the street) matters. A bicycle ride is safer, less expensive (or free if you own a bicycle), and would definitely be more appreciated by lovers of architecture, travelers, history enthusiasts, cyclists, tourists and even locals (that’s basically everyone).
Finally, cycling in Penang is a healthy experience. According to experts, cycling is one of the easiest forms of exercise because it is fun to do. They say cycling increases one’s strength, improves muscle tone, builds stamina, increases cardio-vascular performance, improves muscle coordination, and reduces stress.
To truly reinforce the benefits coming from cycling, the state government of Penang is planning to put up bicycle lanes all over the island by the year 2020. The proposed lanes are planned to start from the Second Penang Bridge all the way to Teluk Bahang. Lim Guan Eng, Penang’s Chief Minister explains, “However, this vision cannot materialize so soon as it is an uphill task.”
The Chief Minister and the state government hope that relevant groups and cycling advocates could come together and brainstorm on the proposal.
The Chief Minister continues, “We hope that by doing so, Penang can be propelled not only as a bicycle destination in Southeast Asia, but one in the Asian region as well,” during his speech at the “Campaign for a Bicycle Lane 2011” at the Esplanade. The campaign was organized by the G Club Penang cyclists and Rotary Club of Tanjong Bungah and was participated in by more than 3,000 cyclists, including foreign cyclists from Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Cambodia. They cycled for 80 kilometers around the island. The campaign was funded by CIMB Foundation.
The campaign was a success. The Chief Minister was there, too, and got to enjoy cycling in Penang with everybody else for about 40 kilometers. He then said, “Perhaps certain bodies can organize more bicycle tours to take in the natural beauty around the island.”