Government officers angered Lamma islanders by targeting hundreds of bicycles parked near the ferry pier at Yung Shue Wan. After tagging 387 bikes with removal notices on Monday, yesterday they confiscated 13 which their owners had not removed in time.
The seized bikes were taken to a nearby trash compactor to be destroyed.
Yu Lai-fan, Lamma's district councillor, said one major reason for the clear-out was to make room for ambulances and fire engines. The exercise had been conducted annually for eight or nine years, she said, and was designed to remove unused bicycles and other items (which yesterday included a suitcase and a scooter) chained to the railings.
Police and staff of the lands and food and environmental hygiene department cleared away the bikes.
Only bicycles with a removal notice attached were confiscated. Bicycle owners had had two days' notice to remove their machines. And from now on they may continue parking their bikes at the pier.
Yesterday, two islanders stood guard at the pier to warn people to park elsewhere.
'People have been parking their bikes here for 20 years,' said Liz Gower, a long-time Lamma resident. 'A two-day notice is not enough: what if the bike owners are just on Easter holiday? I've complained to the government in the past to remove construction material, and even that is given at least a one-month notice.'
Yu said the problem was that the bicycles were parked on government land. 'If the bike owner really was on holiday, then they should have just parked it at home. But people are still allowed to leave their bikes at the pier. We will continue to tolerate it because there is no other place to park right now. And really, we are just trying to clear out abandoned bikes to make more room for emergency services to get through and for more bikes to park there.'
But Gower said some of the confiscated bicycles, especially the children's bikes, did not look unused, but brand new and rideable.
Yu said: 'We understand that many Lamma Island residents are cyclists, and a bicycle parking area would really solve the issue here.' A proposal to build a bicycle parking area at Yung Shue Wan, between the pier and the public library, is the subject of a public consultation. It would require reclaiming land from the harbour.
Opponents say it would remove the harbour's last stretch of natural coastline and also cause congestion.