Country park cyclists on trail of understanding
I refer to recent correspondence concerning racing cyclists in Tai Lam Country Park. Since 1996, the Hong Kong Mountain Bike Association (HKMBA) has worked closely with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), riders and the bicycle retail trade to develop recreational mountain biking as a healthy, well-managed activity. The sport provides a valuable way for youngsters to develop self-confidence, physical fitness and a healthy psychological perspective. And exponents of all ages develop a close bond with nature.
A very few riders, such as Brian Cooke, have taken their sporting skills a step further, representing Hong Kong at international competitions like the Asian Games. However, neither the AFCD nor the HKMBA has ever encouraged the use of our country parks for racing. Today, the Hong Kong Cycling Association and Sports Development Board take responsibility for athletic development.
Despite a clear need, the issue of providing training and racing facilities for these athletes has never been adequately addressed in Hong Kong and has hampered development of the sport at a competitive and professional level. This may have resulted in annoyance to some park users. The HKMBA's code of conduct stipulates that bikers should give way to hikers to avoid incidents. Indeed, it was the HKMBA that originally suggested that the AFCD issue permits to riders and cancel those of anyone found abusing the privilege of riding on authorised trails. Our parks are a wonderful asset and with proper management can accommodate a wide variety of individual and family recreational activities in relative harmony, including recreational mountain biking. Since its inception the HKMBA has sought a limited network of mountain bike trails in country parks across the SAR that are open to all park users.
With sound management by the AFCD and consideration from other trail users, we are convinced there is no reason why Hong Kong's parks cannot support the same rich mix of outdoor activities now enjoyed in many other countries by locals and tourists alike.
HK Mountain Bike Association