Fears for pedestrians over harbour cycleway scheme

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 September, 2011, 12:00am


A cycling lobby group's proposal for a cycleway along Hong Kong Island's north shore yesterday encountered opposition after some members of the Harbourfront Commission raised concerns about its safety.

Questions were raised when the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance presented its proposal to the commission for a 16-kilometre harbourfront cycleway that would stretch from Kennedy Town in the west to Heng Fa Chuen in the east.

Commission member Peter Cookson-Smith, of the Hong Kong Institute of Planners, wondered whether it would be safe for pedestrians and cyclists to share the cycleway. He said pedestrians and cyclists would be competing for space and that cyclists might pose a safety hazard, especially to children.

'The key is compatibility,' he said. 'Nothing should happen to compromise pedestrian access and comfort.'

Alliance member Sylvester Wong said the cycleway should be for leisurely rather than fast cycling.

'We're not looking to create a fast racing path, but a variety of experiences on and off the bike,' he said, adding that cycling speeds would be kept down to accommodate pedestrians. However, both sides agreed that if the cycleway was built, cyclists and pedestrians should not be segregated. Most cycling paths in the New Territories are separated from pedestrians. As a result, cycling there has become a mode of transportation rather than a leisure pursuit.

Both the commission and the alliance agreed the cycleway should be for public enjoyment of the harbour, not a thoroughfare for commuting.

'The misconception is that cyclists are a class apart. This isn't about one group being placed against another,' said Martin Turner, chairman of the cycling alliance.

'It is about bringing the place to life and getting people to places around the harbourfront.'

Transport Commissioner Joseph Lai Yee-tak said the government did not have a policy of promoting cycling as a mode of transport, mainly as there was insufficient space on roads and the city already had a well-developed public transport system.

Meanwhile, some government workers and staff of lawmakers have started campaigning for bike-parking spaces at Tamar, the new government headquarters and Legislative Council complex in Admiralty.