LIKE parts of George Town, certain roads in Balik Pulau will also be closed to vehicles once a week.

Penang State Assembly Speaker Datuk Abdul Halim Hussain said eventually, all five districts on the island and mainland would adopt the Penang Car-Free Day programme.

“We cannot just have it in one area. We want to do it in Balik Pulau next but the details of where and when are still being ironed out.

“Initially people were sceptical about closing the roads to cars but now everyone is gung-ho about it. I’m sure the Balik Pulau residents will also warm up to it,” he said.

The programme which was launched on Dec 11 last year, saw Beach Street, Church Street Ghaut, Church Street and part of Bishop Street in George Town closed to traffic from 7am to 5pm every Sunday.

Abdul Halim was speaking to reporters after launching the free aerobics programme at Dataran Muafakat in Balik Pulau on Sunday.

The weekly event is funded by the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) and state government.

Led by Penang Health and Fitness Society instructor Mansor Mat, MPPP president Patahiyah Ismail and officials from the council and various government departments, joined the residents for the hour-long aerobics session.

However, the event fell short of the targeted turnout.

Abdul Halim had earlier told a press conference that “at least 500” participants were expected but the crowd was less than half.

When asked about the lukewarm response, he said many were still not aware of the programme.

“I’m confident that this free aerobics session will draw more Balik Pulau folk in the coming weeks.

“Some local associations have told me that they will be bringing their members next time around,” he said, adding that a permanent stage would be built soon for the aerobics instructors.

In his speech, Abdul Halim said the state government welcomed and valued suggestions to turn Penang into an international city.

“Activities like this is a good example — we hope it can be a catalyst for the rakyat to adopt healthy living practices.

“Penang is not short of good food but we need to exercise more,” he said.

The aerobics session will be held every Sunday at Dataran Muafakat from 8am to 9am.

Source: The Star Online