If parked bikes offend, why not cars?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 August, 2011, 12:00am


The government pays constant lip service to the need to promote cycling and a healthy lifestyle. But when it comes to enforcement, it does everything it can to discourage people from travelling on bicycles.

The latest instance is the confiscation of a large batch of bikes parked illegally outside the Sha Tin MTR station, in an area cyclists have used as a de facto parking space.

No one disputes the right of inspectors to enforce the law - that's their job. But when parking facilities are so much in demand, officials should start thinking of providing them for the convenience of cyclists. Unfortunately, the mindset of bureaucrats always favours motorists over cyclists, who are effectively second-class citizens on the road. This needs to change if Hong Kong is to follow the example of other major world cities that enjoy clean air by having successfully promoted cycling and discouraged driving.

Inspectors last year confiscated 6,623 bicycles and auctioned off 6,378, earning a profit of HK$152,450. Owners often have just 24 hours to reclaim their bicycles before losing them. Yet rarely will officials confiscate a vehicle, including any parked illegally.

Private property, though, is private property. In terms of ownership, there's no difference in principle between a bicycle and a car. The only difference is in their price tag. A car owner can enjoy parking illegally, knowing his vehicle will almost never be taken away and sold off. At most, he'll pay a small fine.

Indeed, if police and traffic wardens would seize a few illegally parked cars, our streets would be much less polluted from idling engines and less jammed with traffic.

Let's begin by making life easier for cyclists by providing them with more places to park.