Penang Forum applauds city council’s attempt to clear shop-front pedestrian walkways

Syabas! Penang Forum would like to record our support for and the appreciation of the Penang Island City Council’s attempt to make Penang safer for pedestrians and more liveable for all users.

Pedestrian walkways or ‘five-foot-ways’ have always upheld the public’s right of way, and it was only neglect and political reluctance that allowed the present situation to develop. The law should be enforced strictly, particularly in the George Town world heritage site.

Besides protecting pedestrians from rain and sun, shop fronts will become more accessible and attractive to potential customers. A linkage and sense of community develops along an unobstructed connection, and the covered walkway provides safety from snatch thieves on motorbikes.

Some things cannot be done overnight, and it may not be possible to change practices which have been allowed to develop over the years.

Penang Forum would like to suggest the following strategy:

Implementation by area

To start with streets without new pedestrian walkways and most heavily used by pedestrians i.e. Chulia Street, Little India, Campbell Street and Kimberley Street

Education and information

  • Most traders have used the five-foot-way for trading purposes for a long time; they may not understand that the five-foot-way is for public use.
  • Simple pamphlets explaining the long term advantages of having clear five-foot-ways should be drawn up and distributed to all.
  • The legal status of the five-foot-way should be explained.
  • The advantages of the public being able to access shop fronts should be explained: it would be more appealing and pleasant for shoppers, which would translate to better business.
  • A warning that enforcement will follow should be given

Phased enforcement

Solid walls and fences

  • Warning letters should be issued to those who have erected solid walls or fences with a time-frame for removal stipulated (as has been done in Chulia Street).
  • Fines for non-removal should be imposed.
  • Physical demolition and removal of walls should be carried out by enforcement officers.

Obstruction of walkways with goods and furniture

  • Educational pamphlets should be distributed requesting shop-owners to keep clear a narrow path, sufficient for the public to walk, in front of their shops. This is a compromise situation where business practices continue but the public has access.
  • A time frame for this partial clearing should be made known.
  • Warning letters should be issued.
  • Fines should be imposed for not clearing obstructed walkways and physical removal should be carried out by enforcement officers

Continued enforcement

  • Monthly enforcement should be conducted to ensure that the walkways are kept clear.
  • The imposition of fines and removals should become standard procedure.

Motorcycles on walkways

This has become a common practice due to :

  • lack of enforcement, and
  • insufficient motorbike parks.

Given the increase in motorcycles, the city council should review the number of motorcycle parks in George Town and position them at close and regular intervals. Enforcement should be conducted regularly and without fear or favour.

Penang Forum assures the city council of its support in this endeavour and in any other matter that will make the George Town world heritage site a better, safer and more liveable city.

Penang Forum Steering Committee
6 October 2016

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