Carmageddon is not inevitable


The tension between cars and cycles is certainly not a Penang thing. It is global, and solutions are therefore to be found globally. London, for example, managed to turn things around. So can Penang, and by doing that, it can become a model for East and West.

London, 1983. I’m cycling down St John Street, a busy main road adjoining the city. Attempting to squeeze my bike alongside the cars, I tap the wing-mirror of a Mercedes. The driver glares furiously. Gestures and yells.

The lights change and I move forward. Merc Driver (MD) is still yelling and gesturing. I cross the road and shoot into a side street. MD does an illegal U-turn and attempts to pursue me. I lose him, but am shaking.

Penang, 2013. I’m cycling on Market Street ahead of a car. In what cycling safety advisors call “the dominant position” – directly in front of the car – so that the driver can clearly see the vulnerable road user: me. I am honked at.

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