Monday, October 17, 2011

Park and Cycle Scheme for Gurney Drive

Gurney Drive, or Persiaran Gurney, is a seaside promenade. The road is also one of Penang’s most popular tourist destinations among locals as well as foreigners. During the daytime, the traffic at this stretch of road is not heavy, but the evening’s traffic is a nightmare due the narrow space caused by side parking.

The state government should eliminate all the side parking lots and provide cycle lane to ease the traffic.The state government should introduce a Park and Cycle scheme with a bicycle sharing system (also known as: community bicycle programs, on-street bike rental, yellow bicycle programs, white bicycle programs, public bikes, or free bikes) in which numbers of bicycles are made available for shared use by individuals who do not own them.

The state government should encourage private car parks along Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah to participate in this Park and Cycle scheme especially after office hour. Private cars should be directed to park at those car parks and cycle to Gurney drive with publicly shared bicycles. The state government can turn Persiaran Gurney into one way street between 500pm and 10pm, only allow traffic flow from the direction of the round about towards Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah. The other direction of the road can be used as cycle lane. The whole stretch of the road should be classified as towing zone, strictly no side parking.

The state government can easy procure the bicycles by organizing a cycling diplomacy event with Najib and KTK. The state government can also raise the budget for the publicly shared bicycles through commercial subsidies in exchange for the right to emblazon the corporate sponsor’s name and product on the bicycle and to exploit sponsorship for public relations purposes.

Several European cities, including the French cities of Lyon and Paris as well as London, Barcelona, Stockholm and Oslo, have signed contracts with private advertising agencies (JCDecaux in Brussels, Lyon, Paris, Seville and Dublin; Clear Channel in Stockholm, Oslo, Barcelona, Perpignan and Zaragoza) that supply the city with thousands of bicycles free of charge (or for a minor fee). In return, the agencies are allowed to advertise both on the bikes themselves and in other select locations in the city.

This scheme is feasible to implement as the private car parks are normal empty after office hour, by participating in this scheme, the private car parks can earn extra revenue with little investment. Making Gurney Drive to be bus transit friendly will help boost the tourism industry.

Public bicycle sharing can increase overall bicycle usage, potentially reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, while improving public health through exercise. Bicycle sharing schemes may arguably be considered an early manifestation of the economic concept known as “collaborative consumption”.

The central concept of this system is free or affordable access to bicycles for short trips inside the city, as an alternative to motorised public transport or cars, thereby reducing traffic congestion, noise and air-pollution. By doing so, the state government can eventually turn the whole Persiaran Gurney into a transit station where transit buses can pick up and drop off commuters along the road. This will be particularly useful if the state government decides to implement my proposal on Penang Outer Ring Rapid Transit Corridor and Penang Central Rapid Transit Corridors with a bus rapid transit scheme.

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