Silent ride to remember cyclists killed on roads

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 May, 2011, 12:00am


Heine Yuan was a 24-year-old, enthusiastic, daily cyclist, described by a friend as 'a very happy person' who 'liked challenges'.

On May 6, while riding along Castle Peak Road, he was rammed by a minibus. He died in Tuen Mun Hospital the next day.

'That night I was at my friend's home and I saw pictures on the television and I recognised Heine's bike. I was shocked,' Krist Wong Tan-lam, a student who used to ride with Yuan twice a week, said. 'These kinds of accidents shouldn't happen.'

Yet a week later, a 26-year-old man was riding his bicycle down Cheung Sha Wan Road in Kowloon when he was struck by a car, sustaining serious head injuries. He died last Sunday.

Their deaths marked the fourth and fifth fatalities this year alone, in a city where an average of 11 cyclists died in each of the last five years. Last year there were 1,914 cycling accidents in Hong Kong, with 247 of them serious and 11 involving a death, according to police figures.

In memory of Yuan and others who have lost their lives on their bikes, over 600 cyclists rode silently from Tsim Sha Tsui to Cheung Sha Wan and back last night. The 'Ride of Silence' took place in tandem with memorial rides in over 300 other cities worldwide from New York to Cape Town and Tel Aviv.

According to Martin Turner, chairman of the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance, the consistent number of deaths over the years proves that cyclists have long been neglected by the government. As a result, drivers don't know how to deal with them and treat cyclists aggressively.

'The government has a wilful policy not to encourage cycling,' he said. 'They don't recognise cycling as any kind of transport. They pretend that it's all recreation and leisure, but it's not.

'We're advocating a sustained programme of public awareness. The problem is that the government has failed to inform the public and make the public aware that cycling is normal, legal and cyclists deserve respect. The secret is that it's an incredibly efficient way to get around a small town like Hong Kong.'