It’s not often that you can experience streets free of traffic in Penang, but you can on Car Free Sunday. As part of its cleaner and greener campaign, The Penang State Government has introduced Car Free Sunday in certain parts of Georgetown. The campaign was launched on 11th December 2011 by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and incorporates stretches of roads within the heritage core zone.
Closed is the stretch between Lebuh Pantai (Beach Street) from Lebuh Cina (China Street) junction to Lebuh Union (Union Street) junction which is opposite HSBC. Lebuh Bishop (Bishop Street) and Lebuh Gereja (Church Street) from Lebuh Pantai junction to Lebuh Penang (Penang Street) junction is closed. The whole stretch of Gat Lebuh Gereja (Church Street Ghaut) from Lebuh Pantai to Pengkalan Weld (Weld Quay) is also closed. Closure to vehicles is between the hours of 7am and 1pm. Not only are cars banned from these areas, so are motorcycles.
Car Free Sunday has also encouraged families to come out with their children, roller blading, cycling or generally enjoying the quietness of the streets.
Branch @ Tanjung City Marina, (Beside Jetty Bus Terminal), 8A Pengkalan Weld, 10300 Georgetown, Penang. Website.
Bicycle Rental: RM25/Bike (Duration: 24 hours). Complimentary safety Helmet, Safety Jacket, Bicycle Lock & PA insurance is provided.
Penang Cycle Bay
Lee Jetty, Weld Quay, 10300 Georgetown, Penang. Website.
Bicycle Rental: Weekday RM12/4hours & RM20 whole day: Weekend RM15/4 hours & RM25 whole day.
Chin Seng Leong Bicycle Shop
84, Armenian Street, 10200 Georgtown, Penang. Tel: 012-553-3553.
Bicycle Rental: RM10 for the whole day per bicycle.
There are some lovely sites of Georgetown to see whilst cycling or in a trishaw and a favourite is to Penang’s famed street wall art. The old walls of Georgetown have come alive because of the efforts of Ernest Zacharevic, a Lithuanian artist, who has made Penang his home. Check out this website which will tell you where you can see Ernest’s fun and fabulous street wall art. On the left you can see this lovey “Little Girl in Blue” located in Muntri Street.
All the walking or cycling around the heritage zone of Georgetown may have made you feel hungry. Penang has some really good vegetarian food cafes and restaurants, many of them located close to the car free zone. Recommended are:
Waterdrop Tea House
6 Penang Street, 10200, Penang. Open: Tuesday to Friday: 9.00am to 5.00pm, Saturday to Sunday: 9.00am to 3.00pm. Closed: Monday.
At this Buddhist run cafe, the menu changes daily. The have items available every day such as the the popular sesame bao. Main dishes available include Hokkien mee, Thai laksa, nasi lemak and vege mince rice.
Ko Chai Lai Vegetarian Restaurant
77 Lebuh Bishop, 10200, Penang. Open: Daily 7am to 9pm.
A popular Chinese vegetarian self-service buffet with a range of vegetables, tofu and mock meat dishes. You can also order dishes such as hokkien mee, asam laksa and char kuay teow.
Woodlands Vegetarian Restaurant
60 Penang Street, 10200, Penang. Open: daily 8.30am to 10.00pm.
This air-con restaurant, serves delicious south Indian food, it’s open for breakfast, lunch, tiffin and dinner. They have a rather extensive menu with specialties including pani poori, bhel poori, chenna bread, paper dosai and chettiand filter coffee. Their thali and meal sets are good value.
Thali NR Sweets Vegetarian Cafe
75 Penang Street, 10200, Penang. Open: Daily 7.30am to 10.30pm. Thali meal: 11.00am to 4.00pm.
Offering a variety of thali meals as well as more than 30 a la carte dishes. Popular dishes include sizzler plate tofu mixed vege, vege chicken and paneer butter masala.
Leave the car at home, hop on your bike or an air-con Rapid bus and enjoy Car Free Sunday in Georgetown. Not only will you be able to walks the streets in safety and peace, you’ll be contributing towards Penang’s cleaner and greener campaign.
Since this article was written an initiative called Occupy Beach Street in conjunction with Car Free Sunday has been set up. Since November 2013, the streets that were closed for Car Free Sunday are used for different healthy and eco-friendly activities. You will find sports, games, performances, arts and crafts and so much more. Every Sunday 7am to 1pm.