Letters to the Editor, August 25, 2013
North Lantau roads unsafe for cyclists
Cycling should be a healthy and fun outdoor activity, but it can be a dangerous pursuit in the wrong setting.
It must be a satisfying relief for cyclists, both serious sportsmen and recreational bikers, to get out of the city and onto the quieter roads of North Lantau.
However the roads there can also be hazardous.
A popular route for cyclists, particularly at weekends, is the utility service road running alongside the North Lantau Expressway, all the way from Tung Chung to Sunny Bay and over the hill to Disneyland.
Unfortunately, this road, which is a two-lane single carriageway, was not really designed to take the increasing number of bikers and all the other traffic which uses the route, including the buses from Discovery Bay serving Sunny Bay, Tung Chung and the airport.
The road is also used by buses stabled and serviced at Siu Ho Wan and other heavy vehicles from the refuse transfer station, and the government depot along the route.
There are several junctions and poor-visibility sections along the road which add to the hazards, and a recent fatal accident ( involving a bicycle) on the road supports the view that it is not the safest road on which to enjoy a Sunday bike ride, as well as having to suffer the noise and fumes from the expressway itself.
However a route which ought to be much more attractive to cyclists - as well as to joggers and walkers - is the service road running along the shore line between the railway and the sea.
This covers the full length of the route from Tung Chung to Sunny Bay, with two notable exceptions.
There is a short break in the route at Pak Mong where the expressway and the railway cross over the narrow inlet to Tai Ho Wan, and a second, longer break at Sham Shui Kok.
It should not be beyond the wit and imagination of some clever government engineers to find a way to close these gaps so that cyclists could have a continuous, much safer and certainly more pleasant ride along the North Lantau coastline, without having to battle with motorised traffic to enjoy their outdoor recreation.
David Sorton, Discovery Bay
Power-boat dangers to swimmers
A very good point is made by Jeffry Kuperus in his letter ("Reckless jet ski riders a danger to swimmers", August 17).
It is a fact that on weekends an increasing number of people are participating in open-water training and competition in the coastal waters of Hong Kong.
This of necessity has groups of swimmers outside the shark nets and in areas where power-boat operators may not be expecting them.
A swimmer is extremely vulnerable to serious injury or worse from a speeding and negligent power-boater and for this reason swimmers should take all practical steps to make themselves highly visible out in the open water.
The onus then falls on the Marine Police and Marine Department to educate the boat operators about the potential presence of swimmers and to enforce safe speed limits and competent driving habits.
They must act now before a tragedy occurs.
Ian Polson, Open Water Swimmers of Hong Kong, Mid-Levels
Unenforced laws make it a fine-free city
Years ago, some mischievous prankster in Singapore designed a T-shirt which declared that Singapore was a "fine city".
This was a humorous dig at the fact that in Singapore you can get fined for everything from spitting, chewing gum and being seen inappropriately undressed through the window of your own home, to offences such as smoking inside restaurants and bars, eating and drinking in the wrong places and even dancing in a bar without a "dancing licence".
In the spirit of great tourism then, might I suggest that we print some T-shirts which declare Hong Kong as being a "no-fine city" - because apparently in Hong Kong, you can flout all manner of laws without the slightest fear of prosecution, be it smoking in bars (still goes on), idling car engines (common practice everywhere), eating and drinking on public transport, illegal parking (getting worse) and many other traffic offences.
I see these things going on every day, and I've yet to ever see any offenders being approached or prosecuted.
Think of what publicising this could do for tourism, as it would attract thousands of visitors who enjoy participating in the above activities without being bothered. And it would give Hong Kong a competitive edge over Singapore, where you can get fined for everything -
except being a decent, law-abiding citizen.
Chris Kyme, Repulse Bay
Sorry is the hardest word for mayor
It will be tricky demanding that Manila mayor Joseph Estrada apologise sincerely for the deaths of eight Hongkongers in the 2010 bus hostage tragedy, as his predecessor was responsible for that fiasco and he could easily pass the buck.
Though he was once an actor, grovelling isn't really Estrada's strong suit. Equally tricky is asking the Philippine government for compensation since a country that exports its women to profit from their remittances means it's not exactly wallowing in cash.
Isabel Escoda, Lantau
Business ploy to import cheap labour
The General Chamber of Commerce's call ("Urgent plea for foreign workers", August 21), is largely a ploy to bring in cheaper labour.
Of course, professionals with certain specialised skills need to be sourced outside Hong Kong, but for other jobs, such as in the tourism and construction sectors, there should be incentives given to make people want to do these jobs.
You can't expect people to work for little money, few conditions and lack of promotion. I hope that if workers are hired en masse from elsewhere, they are not constricted by the appalling restraints that foreign domestic helpers have to toil under.
Sometimes when I hear the business sector bleat their tales of woe, I think that they would like to return to the days of feudalism.
Jennifer Eagleton, Tai Po
School bus makes sense to end chaos
I read with interest the article regarding the school in Repulse Bay which faces a legal fight over its ban on children being dropped off ("School faces legal fight over ban on dropping off kids", August 19).
Thomas Hebestreit, the parent of a girl attending HKIS Repulse Bay, has refused to use the new school bus for his daughter. While I understand his concern, I believe he should also consider people who live in the area.
I used to live in South Bay Close and more often than not I was unable to drive my car to my home due to the traffic. Parents and chauffeurs regularly caused chaos in this area.
Perhaps Mr Hebestreit should consider what it is like not being able to drive to your own home before taking legal action against the school.
I fully support the school for taking the initiative on this issue, even though I no longer live in that area.
Neil Campion, Sai Kung