PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 August, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 August, 2000, 12:00am

The University of Hong Kong recently introduced a new access policy for the main campus that allows transit only to vehicles that enter and exit by the same gate at University Drive or enter by Pokfulam Road and exit by Bonham Road.

Before this policy was introduced, residents in the area enjoyed free passage. In spite of this traffic was never very heavy, compared with other university campuses.

For example, two main roads trisect Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campus.

I am sure the road-crossing skills of Hong Kong University students are not inferior to those of their counterparts at MIT.

When the university asked for public funding for building the Pokfulam Road access and for widening University Drive, some of the more enlightened members of the university proposed that a link road between Pokfulam Road and University Drive would yield a better economic return for the requested public funding.

Although this proposal was not adopted, nowadays the road between University Drive and the two gates at Pokfulam Road and Bonham Road runs mostly along the campus perimeter by the hillside and always away from the principal pedestrian and academic areas of the campus. The road has a very limited effect on the university's scholastic life.

Furthermore, the existing road can easily support three to four times the current volume of traffic on a normal weekday.

On weekends, the campus is practically devoid of vehicular traffic.

A blanket denial of free passage to motorists who are not members of the university, reflects badly on this institution.

Great universities such as Oxford and Cambridge share their appealing atmosphere with the communities in their neighbourhoods and also make visitors feel welcome.

In contrast, Hong Kong University is affected by an out-of-date mood of aloofness and is often operated like an apathetic cloister detached from the community.

I urge the university to restore the facility of free passage previously accorded to the public.