PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2007, 12:00am

How can Hong Kong promote safe cycling?

As a Dutchman who grew up with a bicycle, it is sad to read the reports of children dying in bicycle accidents for the wrong reasons. More will follow unless we realise that the only solution is to embrace cycling in selected towns in Hong Kong as a mode of transport, not just a Sunday fun tour.

In places like Yuen Long, Tseung Kwan O and Tung Chung, the distances between facilities are large and the land is flat. The bicycle is an obvious (clean and sustainable) and increasingly popular mode of transport to get to and from home, shop, restaurant and station.

However, not since Sha Tin have town planners attempted to design new towns for comprehensive use of bicycles. Most new towns have just a few paths, assuming that getting out on a bicycle is just a Sunday hobby.

The solution is not to separate cars and bicycles, but to have bicycles and cars share space. This will require road markings and an education of road users of simple rules. Most important is to bring back a discipline of marked crossings without light signals, and strict enforcement of the rule that vehicles have to stop once a pedestrian or bike has a foot or wheel on the crossing.

The upside in the new towns is that they can easily be converted into cycle towns. The roads are wide with ample reserves, making it easy to mark cycle lanes or build separate paths. Moreover, bicycle racks are required for parking in public areas. Housing estates, shopping malls and transport interchanges need to add parking facilities for bicycles. Some of these could require a small safe-keeping fee payable to an attendant, who at the same time could run a little repair business. An ideal 'small economy' opportunity that would put a stop to the increasing number of rusting bicycles hanging off road railings next to, 'Don't park your bicycle here' signs.

Paul Zimmerman, convenor, Designing Hong Kong Harbour District

What do you think of the student journal's questions?

While we are not particularly impressed by the sex survey questions asked by Chinese University's Student Press, we believe the first duty of a university is to encourage exploration of all kinds, not to police contents of a student journal, which is meant for internal consumption within the student community.

We would like to caution Chinese University not to penalise any student concerned. We also want to take exception to its spokeswoman's narrow view that 'topics related to sexuality can be explored rationally and from an academic point of view' (May 8).

Student Press' questions may be offensive to some, but let's not forget that even Socrates' views were offensive to his contemporaries and a university has no business fostering intolerance and denting the spirit of free exploration by its staff and students.

Cheung Chor-yung, Anne Lung, Sha Tin

It is the very essence of the function of an institution of higher education that it should engage difficult issues, explore them and push the envelope of knowledge and understanding beyond accepted norms. Criticism of the survey is a proper response to it, but any suggestion of reprimanding or even fining its proponents is an attack on learning per se by champions of intellectual conformity and mediocrity.

Malcolm I'Anson

On other matters ...

Most of the known world stands on the right and walks on the left on moving walkways and escalators. Even Shanghai has changed it policy in the Metro to include signs and announcements to stand on the right and walk on the left on escalators.

They made this change because most of the word uses this system. Does the MTR Corp think Hong Kong people are so special or just stupid? Those constant announcements to 'stand firm and don't walk' on escalators are insulting and out of sync with the rest of the world. Did the MTR do some study to determine that Hong Kong people cannot use escalators as most of the world does? Perhaps these announcements are meant for the same people that stand in front of the green arrow at the MTR train door.

Charles Swindle, Sheung Wan

I would like to report a matter that may be too small to be reported to the police but might interest readers in the Filipino sector. Our Filipino maid related this to us on April 27.

Between 5.40pm and 5.50pm in the Wan Chai MTR station ticket machine area, a young Chinese man, neatly dressed in a blue shirt and dark trousers, similar to that of MTR staff, approached our maid, who was buying a ticket from a machine. He appeared as though he were helping our maid. He asked her where she was going. Our maid responded Mei Foo, and she pressed the selection.

He quickly took a HK$20 bill out of her hand, surprising her, and inserted the bill in the slot. As the ticket, and then the change, was returned, he grabbed for the change and handed it to her. Again surprised, she said, 'Thank you', to which the young man quickly walked away, responding in English, 'You're welcome'.

As our maid looked at the change in her hand, she found it was only HK$2. The man had slipped away with HK$5. She looked up to call out but the man was far off by then, still walking away quickly. Helpless, alone and afraid, she decided not to chase the man and returned home.

Although the amount was only HK$5, this should serve as a warning to all maids, as well as the elderly, helpless MTR travellers and tourists holding money in their hands, and who may think an MTR staff member is there to attend to their needs. If you appear to be helpless, you may be taken as a good target by this man, who is still around.

Mario da Silva

The picture of the dying Banyan tree on May 1 really says it all about the government's approach to our environment. The air pollution levels were 130 last Wednesday by the government's guidelines, so in reality, according to the UN guidelines, the readings are off the charts!

I also noticed on Monday night the TV weather report indicated a reading of 100 and used the yellow colour code for high, rather than the red colour. This is another example of the government insisting the air quality isn't poor! In fact, the air pollution readings warrant the use of black as the air is toxic. Can TV stations please be honest in their reporting?

The Chief Executive has set this administration's tone by insisting the air quality is 'not that bad'; the air is appalling and real action needs to be taken. As he is impersonating an ostrich on this issue, maybe the Chief Executive has found a source of fresh air that we don't know about?

Joyce Wong, Central




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