Commuters cannot cycle in busy urban areas of Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 June, 2017, 4:43pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 June, 2017, 10:35pm

In April, the bike-sharing start-up Gobee.bike services was launched with 1,000 bicycles for hire on cycling tracks in the New Territories, including Sha Tin and Tai Po.

Some people responded very positively and hoped bike-hiring services would eventually expand to all 18 districts in Hong Kong. However, I think we have to look realistically at bike-sharing apps and their potential in a city like Hong Kong.

Firms launching such a service could face limitations. One of these is the lack of cycling facilities in many areas of the city, especially busy urban areas like Mong Kok and Central. The roads there are designed for public transport, vans and cars, and cyclists would have to share the road with them.

However, these roads are already busy. If a lot of cyclists took to the roads as well in these downtown areas, this would exacerbate traffic congestion and could cause problems, especially during rush hours. We could see a lot of bicycles parked illegally in public spaces causing congestion.

Gobee.bike is designed for recreation and this is how most people look at cycling in Hong Kong.

They will take the MTR or catch a bus when commuting to and from work, not get on their bike, because it would be so time-consuming.

Also, if they had some distance to cover, they would get to work already tired from the journey. And in the areas where most office blocks are located, there are no cycling lanes. Most people would consider cycling on busy main roads too dangerous.

Whatever the downside of commuting, cycling as an exercise should be encouraged, because it is good for you physically and mentally. Regular exercise can help people cope better with stress. I think more citizens can now see the benefits, which is why services like Gobee.bike will be popular for citizens who are looking for a healthy way to relax.

Getting more citizens to use cycling tracks, even if only for recreational purposes, should be encouraged by the government as it tries to get residents to be more environmentally aware.

It should be trying to provide more cycling facilities and eventually, with an expanding network of tracks, at least some individuals might be able to use their bikes to commute to work some days.

This should go hand in hand with a comprehensive bike-sharing system that already exists in a number of cities around the world.

Tom Poon, Tseung Kwan O