Middle-of-road biker has charge dropped

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 December, 2011, 12:00am


The section of the road users' code telling cyclists to stay near the kerb should be scrapped, Hong Kong Cycling Alliance chairman Martin Turner says, after prosecutors decided not proceed with a charge of careless cycling against him yesterday.

Turner, 49, was charged under the Road Traffic Ordinance after cycling in the centre of a lane in Java Road on June 12. The offence carries a fine of up to HK$500.

However, prosecutors decided to offer no evidence against him at Eastern Court.

Turner said the issue was of great concern for many cyclists. The code states that cyclists should ride about half a metre away from the side of the road. But Turner says riding in the 'primary position', in the centre of the lane, can be safer in many situations. In some jurisdictions, this position is recommended when a lane is too narrow for a vehicle and bike to travel side by side.

Despite the decision not to proceed, prosecutor Alice Chan Shook-man maintained that cyclists should ride near the kerb, or side of the road.

Turner said that in place of the stipulation to cyclists to ride near the kerb, there should be a reminder that they have a right to occupy the lane whenever they feel it is the safest position to take.

The code is being reviewed.

Turner said the government failed to provide sufficient public education about cycling and recognise it as a mode of transport. Instead, it persisted in regarding it only as a form of recreation, with cyclists not considered in urban and road planning.

'Cyclists are not seen as equal road users,' he said. '

Turner said danger could occur when cyclists stayed on the side of the road. Motorists might take it as a signal that they may overtake them, and get too close.

The Transport Department said the road users' code suggested cyclists ride near the footpath or along the side of the road in normal situations. In special circumstances, they may, according to the situation, temporarily move away from the kerb to avoid an obstruction or danger. A department spokesman said the suggestions were similar to those of other advanced jurisdictions.

'The Transport Department from time to time considers the experience and research results of other countries, and in due course reviews the relevant road users' regulations, and when necessary, it will publish the relevant guideline so that cyclists can better grasp the way to ride safely.'

The code reminds motorists that they should regard cyclists as they would other road users, the spokesman said.

Turner, a marketing consultant, cycles daily and travelled to and from the hearing by bike.

The case was heard before Deputy Special Magistrate Stephen Yeung Shu-bun.