panang - Lim Mah HuiDr. Michael Lim Mah-Hui

The gentleman on the bike, Dr. Michael Lim Mah-Hui, is a city councilman in George Town, Penang, Malaysia. With an international background in economics, finance and public policy, he also has a long time interest in the challenges of sustainable development, livable cities, equitable transport, land use and historical preservation. He is active both as an elected councilor but also as a concerned and active citizen. He is in this, in his own words, for the long haul.

In a recent presentation to the City Council of Penang Island “Bicycling as One Component of a Comprehensive Transport Plan” — he wrote:

Georgetown is very suitable for promoting bicycling as an alternative form of transport because it is small only 47 sq mile (i.e. 7 mile by 7 mile) and flat. One can easily cycle within the city limit in 20 minutes. Imagine how traffic will be reduced if more people just cycle around the city during lunchtime instead of driving.

Penang has taken some steps to promote bicycling but mainly for weekend recreation. We now seriously need to promote cycling as one alternative form of transportation for work and commuting. MPPP can be a pioneer in this effort.

The following steps (not exhaustive) should be taken:

* Provide dedicated bicycle lanes to be painted and reflective road studs laid on the roads to improve safety for these users.

* Plant more trees to provide shade

* Provide proper parking space for bicycles

* MPPP work with private entrepreneurs to start bike-renting and/or bike-sharing schemes

We must start to draw up a bicycle strategy, policy and plan for Penang and this must be integrated into town planning. It should be coherent, not piece-meal and certainly not ad hoc. It must be bottom-up and not just top-down, i.e., the bicyclists must be intimately involved in the planning process from the beginning.

Mah Hui portraitThe plan must include a budget open to the public and the media for inspection and eventual discussion.

Lastly, I believe in the concept of leading by example. The mayors of London and a number of other, often European highly livable and prosperous cities, use bicycles as a form of daily transportation. I propose that our leaders at least occasionally cycle to meetings and to work. This will be a major psychological boost for bicycling and provide an example for the public to follow – to show that it’s cool to bike. That it’s good for the planet. Good for the city. And great for your health.


Dr.. Mah Hui-Chen Shih​ can be contacted at limmahhui(at)gmail.com.  The offical website for the City Council of Penang Island is available in English at http://www.mppp.gov.my/en/home

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Points of Light.

We need to put human faces to the fight for sustainable transport and sustainable cities.  Which is the goal of World Streets informal shortlist just getting underway offering brief profiles of outstanding exemplary  individuals, groups and organizations who are, each in their own way, contributing to showing the way in their city, country or region, when it comes to the very difficult up-hill transition from Old Mobility (back at a time in the last century when most of us were fascinated by infrastructure, vehicles and, implicitly, privilege) to a New Mobility Agenda (a world that favors instead people, access, equity, systemic efficiency and quality of life).

If you have nominations for other outstanding individuals or groups, particularly in civil society (“the watchdog of democracy”), please share them with us via editor@worldstreets.org

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older woman on ebikeEditor’s note: One observant reader and cyclist, Jen Tan, has pointed out that the cycle in the above picture is an ebike and that the battery poses long term pollution challenges.   Yes, this is true, but in the last years as the use of ebikes has steadily expanded two observations come to mind. Most important, the battery can permit older and frailer people to have full access to a bike for their daily needs. If not, often their only options include either (a) reduced mobility and all the injustices that brings with it or (b) to use a car. Finally, part of the transition strategy must be to shift from fossil fuels to electricity, in combination with a massive effort on renewables  and energy efficiency.

About the editor:

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at https://goo.gl/9CJXTh and @ericbritton

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