Bike tracks would help, but hills a big hurdle for cycling in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 June, 2017, 9:02am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 June, 2017, 10:58pm

A number of your correspondents have encouraged people to try to cycle more in Hong Kong, even suggesting that they could cycle to work or school every day.

They argue that apart from being environmentally friendly, it is also an excellent way to get regular exercise. I think they are good ideas, but I do not believe they are feasible for a city like Hong Kong.

Firstly, in Hong Kong, there are no separate bicycle lanes to separate cyclists from cars on the roads, and this is rather dangerous. In countries where cycling became part of the culture, there are at least cycling facilities.

For example, in Shanghai where I relocated in mid-January, cycling is very popular among locals and tourists because the city has tracks which can only be used by cyclists and motorbikes.

Also, the tracks are wider and well connected to other parts of Shanghai, and so they are easily accessible and are very convenient.

In other countries such as the Netherlands, where millions use bikes every day, special cycle routes have been made throughout cities. In one Dutch city, Delft, the government constructed a whole network of cycle paths, which encouraged even more people to forget their cars and get on their bikes. And so slowly, over time, one by one, other cities followed suit.

There’s another reason cycling won’t take off anytime soon in Hong Kong – our roads are not flat. There are too many steep hills and slopes which makes it difficult to persuade people to hop on a bike.

Even if Hong Kong can provide dedicated cycle lanes, and perhaps a separate set of traffic signals for cyclists (to distinguish from those for motorists), due to the lack of proper infrastructure, I do not think that it is likely that cycling will be a norm in our city, in the near future anyway.

Eunice Li Dan-yue, Shanghai