Cycling group calls for more bike-park spaces after government crackdown

Bikes are environmentally friendly and efficient for commuters, says group, and more spaces outside train stations are desperately needed

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 5:16am

A cycling group wants the government to review its policy on bicycle parking spaces after officials seized dozens of bikes parked illegally outside the Tai Wai MTR station yesterday.

Twenty officers from three departments removed the bicycles, which were not parked in designated areas, on Mei Tin Road, outside the station's E exit, at about 10am yesterday.

There are three designated parking areas with stands for cyclists to attach their bikes to on that road. Bikes attached to the roadside fence or a signpost in the areas in between the public parking spots were deemed to have been left there illegally.

"It's nonsense to say to the right of the pole [indicating the parking area], it's OK to park your bike, but it's illegal to park your bike to the left," Martin Turner, chairman of the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance, said.

Warning notices dated April 23 had been attached to the bikes by the Lands Department before they were taken away yesterday. They cited the Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance, which "requires occupiers of the land … to cease such occupation before April 25".

Turner said seizures of bicycles had been carried out by the government for years, with no acknowledgement that they were parked illegally due to the acute shortage of parking spaces in the city. "Cycling is a part of the transport system for daily commuters," he said. "But obviously the government has not thought about it and doesn't take it as part of it."

In yesterday's blitz, the officers - from the food and environmental hygiene, lands and home affairs departments - cleared away bikes in five other locations in Sha Tin. About 40 bicycles were seized.

By late March, 434 bikes had been confiscated in the district this year. The figure for 2012 was 1,481. The Lands Department said confiscated bikes were government property, and there was no way to reclaim a bicycle.

Confiscated bicycles have been seen piled up at a "graveyard" on government land in Sai Kung. The bikes are auctioned to scrap metal dealers.

Turner said there weren't enough parking spaces in the New Territories, where many rely on bikes to get to stations. He urged the government to support cycling as an environmentally friendly and effective form of transport by being lenient in enforcing the ordinance, especially when "there's no danger or actual obstruction caused".

There are 5,600 bike parking spaces in Sha Tin District managed by the Transport Department. Across the city, there were 41,440 public bicycle parking spots in 2011.

But one cyclist, who uses his bike every day to get to the train station from his home in Tai Wai, said there was never anywhere to park. "Many people do cycle, but there are no parking spaces. We can only unwillingly resort to parking bikes anywhere that's available," said Chan Kin, 23.