Massive expansion of cycling networks in Hong Kong is just not a realistic option

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 November, 2011, 12:00am


I must take issue with your editorial ('Anti-cycling trend makes no sense', November 8).

I do not agree with those who support encouraging more citizens to use bicycles in an effort to reduce the use of motor vehicles.

The urban landscape of Hong Kong is not conducive to a bikes, unlike those cities which have successfully implemented cycling-friendly policies.

Our densely packed roads and badly planned urban expansion are factors which should discourage officials from urging people to opt for two wheels for anything other than recreational purposes.

Our roads are designed primarily to cater for motorists. The traffic conditions for a cyclist attempt to travel between districts would be unfavourable, if not impossible.

Comparing our city with Sydney is inappropriate.

Its geographical area is 10 times the size of Hong Kong. It is perfectly suited for policies which seek to find a more balanced use of bicycles and motor vehicles.

It does not face our constraints and can set aside areas away from the city centre with access for pedestrians and cyclists.

Sometimes people can push enthusiastically forward with a well-intentioned strategy, but fail to take account of the reality on the ground and constraints imposed by their urban environment.

After all, for a policy to be successful, it must be backed by complementary measures. Expansion of cycling must be accompanied by complementary hardware.

Public bike rental is a case in point. In most cities with a widespread cycling network, bikes are readily available for hire at regular intervals along routes.

If the government decided to provide more cycling trails it would have to change its current urban planning policies and give much more thought to inner city development and the need to cater to greener transport modes.

The government's attempt to position cycling as primarily a form of recreation is a moderate and realistic move in tandem with the status quo.

It also has do more to encourage citizens to use public transport, and speed up the process whereby more vehicles adhere to cleaner 'Euro' emission standards.

Borromeo Li Ka-kit, Kwun Tong