• Fri
  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 1:46am
NewsHong Kong

Transform Des Voeux Road into pedestrian-tram green zone, planners urge

Proposal to clear the air by diverting traffic from Des Voeux Road Central

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 April, 2014, 4:17am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 April, 2014, 4:27pm

Busy Des Voeux Road Central in the heart of Hong Kong's business district should be transformed into a bus-free zone so that pedestrians and office workers can breathe cleaner air, the Institute of Planners has suggested to the government.

The vision was laid out in a joint study by the institute, City University, the Civic Exchange think tank and the MVA Hong Kong transport and planning consultancy firm.

Under their plan, the 1.5-kilometre section of Des Voeux Road Central, stretching from Pedder Street to Morrison Street, would be closed to all vehicles except necessary traffic such as banks' security vans, delivery vans and emergency vehicles.

Bus routes would be diverted to Connaught Road and nearby streets so that the tram would become the only form of public transport allowed along Des Voeux Road Central.

Other traffic is expected to be absorbed by the future Central-Wan Chai bypass and the MTR's Sha Tin-Central Link, scheduled for completion in 2017 and 2020, respectively.

The scheme is aimed at reducing air pollution in the area by diverting vehicular traffic to lanes with better ventilation.

"Our study has shown that diesel buses and goods vehicles are the main and direct contributors to roadside air pollution in Central," City University's Dr Ning Zhi said. "The high-rise buildings along Des Voeux Road Central … trap pollutants. Air quality on Connaught Road Central is better despite more vehicular traffic because pollutants are dispersed more easily."

The groups last month met senior government officials including Transport and Housing Secretary Anthony Cheung Bing-leung and Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing to sell the idea. They hope the government will adopt the proposal and fully implement it by 2020.

Ted Hui Chi-fung, the constituency's district councillor and vice-chairman of its traffic and transport committee, found the proposal an innovative idea to improve air quality in Central.

But he was worried that diverting traffic to Connaught Road Central would make it more congested. "I am open to the proposal … I would suggest the district council commissions a scientific study so that we have data to assess its feasibility."


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This article is now closed to comments

Sure, let's do it. Yesterday please.

And let's do the same at Wyndham Street / Hollywood Road. And Canton Road and/or Nathan Road in TST.

Will it happen anywhere? It would surprise me. Ours is a city where we have for decades given priority to cars, preferring to raise pedestrians up to the level of walkways whenever they threaten to obstruct traffic flow, where they can enjoy the exhaust fumes better.

It is rare to even find a pavement in Hong Kong that is wider than three yards or so. And don't say it is because of lack of space, because right next to the crammed pavement, there are four lanes of traffic, plus parking spots (Nathan Road is a sad and sorry example of this: prime shopping area with lots of pedestrian, yet at the same time it appears to function as a four-lane highway for cars, which often drive there at completely irresponsible speeds).
John Adams
A wonderful idea !
Let's do it !
The idea of closing off Des Voeux Central from vehicular traffic I remember was first proposed by Gordon Siu who was the Secretary for Planning and Lands shortly after the handover. It was a marvelous idea which was part of a master plan in improving environmental quality through improving traffic on Hong Kong Island. Obviously, the proposal made no progress and left aside unfortunately. Siu shortly left the government or retired.
Brilliant idea.
Not to be pessimistic, but the likelihood that the Hong Kong Government possesses even a fraction of the ambition, vision and initiative to do something like this is painfully small.
I mean, what will happen to all the Toyota Al-tards double-parked everywhere? Won't someone please consider their rights to run their engines idle and block up all the roads?
Good idea, but why not start straight away and regulate the emissions from old and badly maintained vehicles to quote the Government's own clean air plan published last March "If all pre-Euro 4 DCV (excluding franchised buses) are replaced by Euro 5 model or better, the emissions of PM and NOX from vehicles will be reduced by 80% and 30% respectively". They clearly know what needs to be done, why not get on with it?
If you have ever been along Des Voeux Road. There 193 banks, numerous shops needing deliveries! Love the idea in theory. Would kill the road.
What reasons can people think of to oppose this plan?
Two words: excellent idea!
I hope this proposal can come true.
How about reducing the number of privately owned cars in HK too? Cars are unnecessary and a nuisance.



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