Women in high heels coming unstuck in LKF's broken paving

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 April, 2008, 12:00am

Women have been advised to put on less flattering flats and leave their stiletto heels at home when going to Lan Kwai Fong, to avoid being tripped up or damaging their favourite shoes.

The paving in the area - Lan Kwai Fong and D'Aguilar Street - has been badly damaged even though it was laid only three years ago. The steep streets, full of broken paving tiles, are bumpy.

Many women have caught their heels in the cracks and have lost their balance or broken shoes.

'None of my high heels are intact. I have had my heels get stuck in between the tiles many times,' said public relations executive Chiu Ying. 'It is very dangerous to walk through the damaged streets in Lan Kwai Fong but it's unavoidable to wear high heels for work. They should replace the tiles with concrete.'

Socialite Pauline Yam said the streets in Lan Kwai Fong were even dangerous for people wearing flats. 'I have to be extremely cautious, not only because the streets are heavily damaged and bumpy. The steep streets can be very slippery if drunken people have spilled their beer on the ground,' she said.

Women are not the only victims. Office worker Chan Pak-ho said he nearly fell on the street outside Volar when one of his shoes got stuck in a sunken tile.

'I lost my balance and fell forward. Luckily my friend caught me in time so I didn't fall down.'

Lan Kwai Fong Association chairman Allan Zeman acknowledged that damage to the streets was serious. 'Three years ago, when the tiles were first installed, it was okay for a while. But the streets are on a slope and, because of the heavy trucks, the ground settled differently and the tiles were broken.

'[The government] kept repairing and replaced broken tiles with new tiles, but it started to get bad eight months or half a year ago. The ground began to sink.'

Mr Zeman said the government had been approached, and had promised to replace the broken tiles and rebuild the foundations. He said new, stronger tiles had been bought.

The Highways Department said the paving project began in 2003 and was completed in 2005. A spokesman acknowledged that heavily loaded trucks caused the damage. Since 2005, the department had received seven complaints about uneven or damaged paving blocks in the area.

He said that after the completion of some utility works in the area early next year, the government would repave the streets with smaller granite blocks on a cement-sand bedding, which it was hoped would better withstand heavy traffic.

Polytechnic University civil and structural engineering associate professor Hung Wing-tat said, however, that tiles were not suitable for streets in Lan Kwai Fong because of the heavily loaded trucks that used them.

'Tiles look better aesthetically but, no matter how strong they are, they cannot support the loading of trucks,' Dr Hung said. 'Concrete road pavement is more practical.'

But Mr Zeman said the area should stick to tiles. 'Lan Kwai Fong has to be special,' he said, suggesting women wear low heels in the meantime. 'Hopefully it's going to be okay. I understand what girls go through.'

The new paving, which will cost HK$1.2 million, is expected to be completed by the end of next year.