Runners and cyclists on collision course after 10k race is cancelled
It is the runners versus the cyclists.
A group of runners gathered outside Sha Tin police station yesterday morning to protest against the cancellation of the ANS Sha Tin riverside 10 kilometre race, which was due to take place next week.
It is the first time in seven years that the race, which attracted 1,000 runners this year, has had to be cancelled.
Some 25 runners turned up to lend their support to the protest, while about a dozen cyclists also made camp 50 metres away to voice their concerns over what they see as the growing problem of runners and walkers using cycle paths.
The police accepted a protest letter from a member of running club Longrun.hk. Alan Lee, chairman of Longrun.hk, said he was not entirely happy with the police's response and a further demonstration would take place next Sunday. 'We plan to hold another demonstration on March 13 at the Hang Seng School of Commerce,' Lee said. 'We want the government to provide more facilities for runners and to be less biased towards one specific sporting organisation. There should be more running and jogging facilities available to the public so that more races can be staged.
'We're happy to start and finish early before most people are up and about, and not many people are up and about at 7am.' Cyclists have been complaining about an increasing number of runners spoiling their enjoyment of cycle paths, and at one race between Sha Tin and Tai Po last year a group of cyclists sat down across the bike path to try to prevent the runners from passing.
By law, only cyclists are permitted to use designated bike paths.
'We saw a post on Facebook saying that runners were coming to Sha Tin police station to object to the law, so we decided to come as well to give our side of the story,' said cyclist Jacky Law.
'Right now the law does not allow runners, walkers or dog walkers to use the bike paths because of safety concerns. However, runners claim that they want the law changed so that anyone can use the cycle paths.
'We cyclists think that if more non-cyclists use the cycle tracks, it will be even more dangerous than it is now. People suddenly walk onto the cycle path and then an accident occurs - it's very easy to hit someone. We support the law because it protects both cyclists and pedestrians, and so we object to the runners being unreasonable.'
The cyclists said they wanted to see the police enforce the law.
Superintendent Li Chiu-yin of Sha Tin police said that every assistance was given to the race organiser of next week's event, but that the Transport Department had not granted a temporary road closure that the police demanded.
'The race permit had certain conditions, such as high-risk areas being closed to the traffic,' Li said.
'I understand that the organiser applied to the Transport Department for road closures but for some reason they declined to provide them.
'Although the race has been held for seven years the condition of the route is different this year because the road is busier. Obviously there is a bigger population in Sha Tin and more people are using the facilities in the area, including runners and cyclists, so the situation has changed.' Tom Lashan, whose company Australian Nutrition and Sports (ANS) was to provide title sponsorship of the event, said he was disappointed the race could not go ahead.
'Any form of exercise is positive for the community and also for the government, so I would have thought that everyone would have been behind the continued staging of this popular event,' Lashan said.
Race organiser Li Ho-tung said the police and the Transport Department had been slow to react to his request for permits.
'I received a letter from the police only on March 4 to say that they would not provide a permit for the race,' Li said. 'This is very disappointing as many of Hong Kong's top distance runners had entered.'