Limit traffic before road chaos turns scenic site route into accident black spot

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 October, 2011, 12:00am


Nam Sang Wai near Yuen Long is an open area of grassland that attracts Hongkongers by the thousands every weekend. Getting to it requires travelling the five kilometre-long Nam Sang Wai Road, of which three-quarters is a single-lane road with passing places.

Every holiday, this narrow road is filled with cars, buses and bicycles. Between 1.45pm and 2.45pm during the Chung Yeung festival, I stood along the narrow part of the road and counted 172 bicycles inbound and 59 outbound, together with 68 vehicles inbound and 34 outbound, totalling 333 traffic movements in a one-hour period.

That is a very heavy level of traffic for a narrow road and does not count the dozens of pedestrians, including those who regularly venture out from the narrow footpath on to the more spacious road.

Unfortunately, the cyclists are a mixture of young and old, novice and professional, those who stick to the left and those who meander due to a lack of control or awareness. I've even seen parents take their three-year-olds there to cycle on the road alongside cars.

The vehicles include buses, vans and learner motorcycles, driven by motorists ranging from seasoned veterans, to cautious probationary drivers and reckless, hot-heads.

And because it is a one-lane road, a lot of reversing is needed when cars head back to a passing place to yield to oncoming traffic. This is dangerous to cyclists, especially when executed by new drivers.

This road is a serious accident waiting to happen.

So far, ambulance crews have only had to deal with slightly injured cyclists who either ran into another cyclist or swerved to avoid a car. But it is only a matter of time before a fatality occurs on this stretch of road when a novice cyclist topples over or clips the side mirror of an oncoming car and ends up under its wheels.

I encourage the authorities to take action before a serious accident occurs.

I would consider a ban on weekends and holidays for all buses, learner drivers, and probationary drivers, cyclists on training wheels and cyclists below the age of eight.

And I hope that more promotion is done to remind visitors that, while the destination is captivating, the journey there can be a nightmare for the unwary.

G. Marques, Lai Chi Kok