Speed camera 'a joke' in traffic jam black spot
Mid-Levels residents and district councillors have questioned a plan to place a speed-enforcement camera on a steep, narrow road that they say is troubled more by traffic jams than speeding.
Old Peak Road is so congested, especially at peak times, that it is impossible to speed and difficult to get out of driveways, they say.
The road, one of Hong Kong's steepest with a gradient of one in five, is among 26 locations selected for speed cameras in an effort to improve safety on what the government termed 'long downhill roads', after two accidents that killed 20 people on such roads.
Old Peak Road stretches just 560 metres from Peak Tower to the Canossa Hospital.
The Legislative Council Finance Committee approved HK$15 million for the cameras last year. Each camera costs HK$245,000, installation costs HK$247,000 and average annual maintenance is HK$80,000.
'Is this a serious proposal, to install a speed enforcement camera, or is it a joke?' said Old Peak Road resident Nora Hui Kin-on, describing it as a waste of taxpayers' money.
Hui, who lives in Garden Terrace, said the road was so jammed at peak times it was difficult to get out of her driveway.
Legislator Tanya Chan, who represents Mid-Levels on Central and Western District Council, said drivers already watched their speed carefully because of the steep slope.
She said the camera housing might cause an obstruction if installed on the narrow footpath.
Vice-chairman of Central and Western District Council's traffic and transport committee Nelson Wong Kin-shing said he was doubtful about the camera proposal in general.
He said it had come about after fatal crashes last year on Hiram's Highway in Sai Kung and Garden Road in Mid-Levels, both of which involved buses. 'Did speeding cause the accidents or was it because the roads are not suitable for heavy vehicles?' he asked. 'For something so expensive, you have to be sure it is really necessary.'
Hong Kong Automobile Association president Wesley Wan Wai-hei said setting up speed cameras on steep and narrow roads could actually create more danger.
He said a driver might brake suddenly on seeing the camera, causing a pile-up with following vehicles that could not stop quickly enough on the steep road.
'It would be worse when the road is narrow, as cars cannot avoid those in front of them by switching to another lane,' he said, adding that another selected spot, Blue Pool Road in Happy Valley, was also too narrow.
The Transport Department said it had conducted a survey of residents and had received a range of views. A spokeswoman said the department had just sent the results to the Central and Western District Council.
She said that 330 accidents, on average, a year were believed to have been caused by speeding. Of the 26 chosen locations, Old Peak Road and Magazine Gap Road were awaiting approval from a district council. The remaining cameras would be installed by the end of next year.
Where the speed cameras will be placed
Hong Kong Island
Blue Pool Road
Magazine Gap Road
Old Peak Road
Aberdeen Reservoir Road
Chai Wan Road (from Tai Tam Road to Shau Kei Wan Road)
Chai Wan Road (from Tai Tam Road to Chai Wan roundabout)
Pak Fuk Road
Cloud View Road
Clear Water Bay Road
Sha Tin Pass Road
Wan Wah Street
Wah King Hill Road
Tai Mo Shan Road
Lo Fai Road
Clear Water Bay Road (near Ah Kung Wan Road)
Hang Hau Road
Tung Chung Road (from Pak Kung Au to Cheung Sha)
Tung Chung Road (from Pak Kung Au to Lung Tseng Tau)
South Lantau Road (from Nam Shan to Pui O)
South Lantau Road (from Nam Shan to Mui Wo)
Lam Kam Road (from Kadoorie Farm to Ng Tung Chai)
Lam Kam Road (from Kadoorie Agricultural Research Centre to Route Twisk)