Consumers Association of Penang

Giving voice to the little people...since 1970

Why CAP is against the One-Way Traffic System in Pulau Tikus

The new traffic system in Pulau Tikus in Penang is a retrogressive measure as it places emphasis on moving cars at the expense of the community, pedestrians, cyclists and the disabled.

Pulau Tikus is an integrated community of mixed commercial, office, institutional, religious, residential and educational uses. It is a unique neighbourhood for good food, shopping and marketing with all the modern conveniences of the post office and banks plus places of worship – all within walking and cycling distances.

But this community runs the risk of being segregated and destroyed by wide one-way streets which are a safety threat to pedestrians and the disabled (besides the handicapped, and including families with children, old folks, shoppers with numerous bags – generally all who have less mobility). Crossing the wide streets with fast moving cars have become a nightmare for them. The conversion of traffic to a one-way system is like bringing a high-speed highway into a neighbourhood.

The effect of wide one-way streets is clearly demonstrated by how different is the business on the two sides of Penang Road. One side is teeming with people while the other side is bare. Wide roads with especially fast traffic simply deter people from crossing them, thus segregating the community.

If there is to be a change in the traffic system, the authorities should seriously think about pedestrianisation and building segregated bicycle paths in Pulau Tikus. It will integrate and improve the community by providing easier accessibility. It will also reduce accidents and air pollution in the area. It will also improve the health of the residents by facilitating cycling and walking into the daily ritual of the residents. Traffic should in fact be slowed down in the area. Traffic-calming designs should be incorporated into the road system there.

The one-way system has also reduced the accessibility of buses to the passengers. The buses now move up Kelawei Road and down along Burmah Road, making it most difficult for the the elderly and shoppers (with lots of bags) at Pulau Tikus market to walk long distances, crossing dangerous one-way streets to catch the buses.

We should be planning more for the residents and the community. Accessibility is not about moving cars, but is about moving people. Giving priority to moving cars is wrong and many countries are adopting measures to reduce the numbers and speed of cars to reduce congestion and accidents.

The One-Way Traffic System in Pulau Tikus speeds up the cars and endangers pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. We should be doing the reverse, reduce the speed and number of of cars and protect the other vulnerable road users. Roads are for all users, not only cars.

We call on the authorities to revert to the 2-way system; introduce segregated bicycle lanes and bicycle paths; and design traffic-calming measures in the Pulau Tikus area.

Press Release - 8 November 2013