As the number of cycling accidents increases and reckless cycling claims more lives, a lawmaker has urged the government to make wearing safety helmets compulsory for cyclists.
Five out of the 10 cycling deaths in 2009 were attributed to careless cycling, compared with three out of the 10 in 2008 and none of the deaths the year before, a department paper provided to the Legislative Council's transport panel showed.
Total bicycle accidents of all kinds rose 10 per cent to 1,793 in 2009, including 709 on cycle tracks and 828 on roads. The remaining accidents happened in parks, playgrounds and similar areas.
Independent lawmaker Andrew Cheng Kar-foo called for helmets to be compulsory, saying the increasing number of cycle tracks made better safety precautions necessary.
'More and more people are going for a ride on the weekends, and crowded cycle tracks mean accidents can take place easily,' Cheng said. 'The tracks in Hong Kong do not cover all areas and cyclists often have to cross pavements and roads at junctions. This increases the chances of accidents.'
He said wearing basic head protection was especially important.
'Some people say that this is a nuisance for riders, but if they are simply hiring a bike, they do not have to buy their own helmet; they could rent a helmet, too,' he said.
More cycle tracks will be available in coming years.
The Civil Engineering and Development Department is building a cycle track network in the New Territories in phases.
The section linking Ma On Shan to Sheung Shui will be the first to come into service, in early 2013.
This will be followed by the Sheung Shui to Tuen Mun section, on which work is expected to start next year and be completed in 2015. The Tsuen Wan to Tuen Mun link will be started at the same time.
Work on the branch sections extending from Tuen Mun to Lung Kwu Tan, from Ma On Shan to Sai Kung, and from Yuen Long to Nam Sang Wai is expected to start from 2014 and be completed from 2017 onwards.