Pedestrianisation in Wan Chai would improve safety and reduce air pollution

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 November, 2011, 12:00am


I completely agree with Tony Price ('Pedestrians treated as second-class', October 28).

The Southorn area of Wan Chai has long been recognised as a location suitable for pedestrianisation schemes. Since 2000 the Transport Department has accepted that these schemes would benefit residents' safety, mobility and general environment. It acknowledges that this may be simply achieved by restricting access for non-essential vehicles, with the knock-on effect of reducing air pollution.

However, in the ensuing years there has been little evidence of action by the department to implement these welcome initiatives. To the contrary, it has approved major redevelopments proposed by influential tycoons in old Wan Chai that incorporate large car parking facilities, thereby encouraging more private vehicles (and more pollution) into this already congested area. This is despite the fact that this downtown district is extremely well served by the MTR, the tram and bus and minibus routes.

Spring Garden Lane is a good example, with vehicles and pedestrians vying dangerously for the same space. This shortcut from Queen's Road East creates traffic chaos at the exit to Johnston Road, as it conflicts with the tram tracks and the congested eastbound lanes.

The traffic flow would greatly improve if access was denied at Spring Garden Lane and the northbound traffic had to use both lanes of Tai Wong Street East, which offers easy entrance into Johnston Road and Luard Road.

Lockhart Road between O'Brien Road and Fenwick Street is another obvious candidate for pedestrianisation, as the footpaths are normally jammed with customers spilling out onto the road from bars. Fortunately vehicular traffic is minimal, especially after working hours. In an entertainment district such as this, it is bizarre for the department to place an impenetrable central barrier. Wan Chai customers are not animals (perhaps contrary to the opinions of some in 'polite society'), so fencing us in is not appreciated. To travel the 20 metres across the road between my two favourite bars, I must take a detour of about 150 metres.

Our transport officials should stop speaking with forked tongues and implement schemes for the benefit of the community. It is the private car users who should be treated as second-class.

Christian Rogers, Wan Chai