Attempts to lower crowd's noise level fall on deaf ears

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 February, 2009, 12:00am

Many residents living near the start of the 10km race said the noise problem had not improved this year, despite race organisers urging runners to be quieter. Eastern district councillor Hui Ching-on, who serves residents in City Garden housing estate which is next to the start line on the Island Eastern Corridor in North Point, said he received a handful of complaints yesterday.

'The residents support the event but they just hope the competition will start after 7am in future,' Mr Hui, who lives in the neighbourhood, said. 'Everyone was screaming at the start of the race and we could hear the noise even if we closed all the windows.'

A record 31,800 people participated in the popular 10km race, which took place on the Island Eastern Corridor for a second year. Competitors started gathering before 4.45am at the start line and the earliest group started at 5.15am. Signs urging competitors to keep the noise down were erected metres from the start line, but organisers used microphones and led the cheers as the runners went off. Fireworks also marked the start of the four groups. Many City Garden residents said they were tolerant of the noise, but most said they were woken up.

'I'm affected ... Apart from hearing someone shouting, I heard the loudspeakers and some greetings such as 'kung hei fat choi' clearly,' said Lee Ho-yuen, whose 14th-floor apartment overlooks the highway. 'There's no improvement this year,' the 18-year-old student said. 'I hope they'll avoid using the loudspeakers and replace them with lights and signs.'

Mr Lee urged the organisers to consider alternative routes in rural areas, which he said would create fewer disturbances for residents and commuters and mean cleaner air for the runners.

Resident Gary Moy said the organisers should show some consideration for residents in the flats nearby.

'We heard noises as early as at 1am to 2am when the preparation work started,' he said. 'For late-sleepers, it means that they don't get to sleep that night.'

He did not mind having the event outside his flat, but he wished it would start a little later.

'With so many runners, it will be very loud even if every one just sneezes,' he said.

Another City Garden resident, Jennifer Wong Kwan-yum, said she was woken up but did not mind because it only happened once a year.

William Ko Wai-lam, chairman of the organising committee, had said he would negotiate a later starting time with the government, but said police had had raised concerns about traffic disruption.

Wake-up call

The first group of runners woke up some residents when they set off along the Island Eastern Corridor at: 5.15am