Pedestrians and cyclists likely to share paths in Hong Kong’s latest bicycle networks

Model represents departure from ‘segregation’ of road users currently practised in city

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 September, 2017, 10:01am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 September, 2017, 12:44pm

Two of Hong Kong’s districts are likely to see the city’s first cycling networks shared by both cyclists and pedestrians, in a move away from what critics describe as a “segregation” system separating these two types of road users.

Proposals for a cycle track in the Kai Tak development area and a shared cycling passage near Hong Kong Velodrome in Tseung Kwan O will be discussed by the Kwun Tong and Sai Kung district councils on Tuesday.

Trials could take place as early as next month and early next year.

In the government’s latest paper submitted to the Kwun Tong district council, officials proposed to adopt the sharing concept on the 13km Kai Tak cycle track.

“Compared to the traditional separation-style cycle track, [the sharing model] can more efficiently make use of the recreational spaces and the waterfront within the Kai Tak development area,” the document stated. “It will also promote the integration of the track and its surrounding environment, and improve ... the connectivity of the design.”

Stop ‘paying lip service’ to cycling projects and get serious, NGO warns Hong Kong government

The track, which officials have proposed to name the “green corridor”, will be six to 10 metres wide, according to the paper. In areas without such space, the track will be divided into cycling and pedestrian lanes.

The first phase of the project – about 7.5km in length – is expected to be completed by 2023, with the path looping around the former Kai Tak airport, connecting the residential area on the former runway, the future Kai Tak Sports Park at the northern end of the runway, the historic Sung Wong Toi Park and Lung Tsun Stone Bridge next to the sports park, and the future Kai Tak MTR station.

All these facilities are expected to be built around 2023.

The second phase, connecting the track with the harbourfront in To Kwa Wan and Kwun Tong, will be built after 2025 after major road networks are completed.

To prepare administrators and the public for the sharing concept, the government plans to open 1km of the pedestrian paths at Kwun Tong Promenade for cycling early next year. Cyclists can use the track from 9am to noon in the first two months of the six-month trial, and from 9am to 6pm in the subsequent four months.

Hong Kong development chief promises to boost local cycling and mountain biking scene

In another proposal, submitted to the Sai Kung district council, a 275-metre shared cycling-pedestrian path near the Hong Kong Velodrome, connecting the Sheung Tak and Hang Hau residential areas, is expected to open on October 7.

The 3.5-metre-wide path will provide cyclists, who previously could use only a 1km cycling track to travel between the two areas, with more convenient passage, according to the paper.

Martin Turner, chairman of Hong Kong Cycling Alliance, said the consideration of shared use was new in the city.

“[The traditional style] is segregation,” Turner said. “Everything has to be segregated. People on bicycles and people on foot anywhere near each other is supposed to be some kind of explosive mixture. Ridiculous because there are so many examples around the world that shared space can work, depending on how you design it.”

Commuters cannot cycle in busy urban areas of Hong Kong

In the Kai Tak paper, the government listed overseas examples of shared use in cities such as Singapore, Taipei, London and Hangzhou.

Sai Kung district councillor Tse Ching-fung, of the Concern Group of Tseung Kwan O People, said he believed the path sharing concept would be worth promoting.

“The government should take this as the first step to promote a cycling culture, which can reduce the energy Hong Kong people consume by driving cars,” he said. “It can also encourage more people to exercise.”

But Kwun Tong district councillor Cheng Keng-ieong, of the Democratic Party, said he preferred separating pedestrians from cyclists.

“There has not been a cycling culture in urban areas,” he said. “I’m worried that citizens will find it hard to adjust to the new concept ... Separation is a safer practice.”

But Cheng said he would be prepared to listen to and consider the government’s justifications for the sharing concept as long as officials cited convincing evidence from similar practices elsewhere.