Cycling in Malaysia: Observations
Well hello again. Thanks to everyone who commented on my previous post (Loving the Race) as well as mentioned it on social media. Writing regularly for a site other than my own is a new experience, much like the rest of my life right now! No one had any racing questions for me this week, so I’m changing directions for today.
(Photo caption: A sharrow in Georgetown, near city hall.)
Last week my husband and I relocated to Penang, Malaysia, where we’ll be for the next couple of years . He works for a medical device company and will be setting up a factory nearby. Hopefully soon we’ll ditch the hotel and move into our house. All of this contributed to a ton of stress since January (besides our wedding) hence the huge need for some bike therapy (read: racing).
Unfortunately our ‘stuff,’ including two of my bikes, hasn’t arrived yet, which means I’m relegated to doing 7 minute workouts, and hoping no one’s in the room below us for jumping jacks and high-steps. I packed both my road and cyclocross bikes, with the road bike for the trainer during the week, and round-the-island trips on the weekend. The rest of the time I’ll be using my CX bike with trailer as my vehicle.
Ok, now we’re getting to the whole point of today’s post: my observations on cycling in Malaysia. When I was in Hong Kong I saw a ton of people using bikes as their transport, but unfortunately a few hours by air away, it’s all cars and motorcycles here. I see a few folks out on bikes everyday, but nowhere near as many as I thought there’d be. Instead, the lanes are only a suggestion, and motorcyclists weave in and out of cars constantly. In a post on my own site, I compared the transit here to that of a peloton. It all flows smoothly, and there’s few honks and even fewer accidents, but lots of traffic.
That said, things seem to be changing, and apparently I’m not in the right areas early enough. According to other ex-pats, 7am near our future home is the prime time and area for tons of cyclists to be out. There’s been a test stretch of cycling lane installed, and there are sharrows all over Georgetown . I’m also a member of several Facebook groups for cyclists in Penang, where I’ve been welcomed with open arms, and whom I’ll be riding with when I finally do get my bikes.
So, there’s definite hope for the future. There’s three (THREE!) pro bike races held in the country every year: Tour de Langkawi, Jelajah Malaysia and Tour of Borneo, and there’s several Malaysians who are pro racers (see Loh Sea Keong and Fatehah Mustapa).
I’m looking forward to getting on the road and providing more info as well as video for everyone in the future, if only the bikes would get here! Have you cycled in places other than the US? I would love to know how other locations compare.