Cultural district now has wheel appeal

Visitors can cycle along the promenade at West Kowloon on one of 50 new bicycles

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 April, 2014, 6:21am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 April, 2014, 6:21am

Visitors to the West Kowloon Cultural District will be able to cycle along its 1.8 kilometre promenade from today as the district authority launches its automatic bicycle rental system.

The public can rent one of 50 bicycles for HK$20 per hour under the authority's SmartBike initiative. They will first have to buy a smart card for HK$50, which will be preloaded with HK$40 for use on bike rental.

Two stations have been set up along the cycling path and cyclists can rent and park their bikes at either one. The rental service is available from 2pm on weekdays and 11am on weekends. Bikes must be returned to a station by 7pm in summer and 6pm in winter. Bicycles for both children and adults are provided.

A 15-day trial of the scheme was run in February, during which 1,600 surveys were completed. At that time, the bicycles were only available on Fridays and weekends and the rental service stopped at 6pm.

The authority's head of technical services, Ng Ying-chuen, said the scheme had been improved based on feedback about service hours and the need for children's bikes. The authority is working with the BiciLine Cycling Eco-Tourism Social Enterprise, under the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, on the scheme.

He said bicycle lanes could be adjusted in the future as the district developed, and that the authority's long-term vision is for visitors to get around the district by bike or on foot.

Timothy Ng Man-wai of BiciLine said the company hoped to add another station and increase the number of bicycles to 80 by summer. At the moment, visitors must ask staff members if they need a child's bike, but Ng said the team was looking into how to make rental of children's bikes automatic.

"It's more complicated than adult bikes, because it involves bicycles for children of different heights, and we need to take safety into consideration too," he said.

Ng said the service hours could be extended into the evening in the future, depending on lighting and other safety issues.