Lawmakers have called for better education in bicycle safety as accidents on cycle tracks and prosecutions against cyclist offenders have doubled in the past five years.
In 2008, there were 510 accidents on cycle tracks and 537 casualties. That number surged to 1,200 accidents and 1,241 casualties last year. An increase in the number of accidents on locations other than cycle tracks was more gradual, rising from 1,080 in 2008 to 1,382 last year.
Prosecutions also more than doubled from 5,403 to 11,872 as more cyclists were caught riding on the footpath. Among all types of prosecutions, the biggest increase was in those for riding without lights, which rose from 477 to 1,209 last year.
A report by the Ombudsman in March found that many bicycles on the roads are not fitted with bells and rear reflectors, as required by law. It also said some shops are renting out and selling bicycles without such gear.
Legislative Council transport panel vice-chairman Gary Fan Kwok-wai said that as it was not mandatory for children in Hong Kong to learn about bicycle safety at school, the government should raise awareness of cycling safety. He said it should also study making cycle helmets compulsory.
"There's a mix of bicycle learners and advanced cyclists on the tracks," Fan said. "That could be a reason why so many accidents happen on them."
Democratic Party lawmaker Wu Chi-wai said the skill level of cyclists could play a part in the rising number of accidents. He suggested a licensing system for cyclists to ride on the roads.
Paul Zimmerman, Southern District councillor and chief executive of Designing Hong Kong, said the increase would be acceptable if the number of cyclists in Hong Kong was also rising. "We have to expect that if you are cycling for the first time, you will fall," he said.