Pedestrians will no longer be "forced like rats" into a subway to cross a major Tsim Sha Tsui thoroughfare after the reopening of a street-level pedestrian crossing a decade after it closed, an urban planning activist said yesterday.
The Salisbury Road crossing reopened yesterday, allowing pedestrians to walk at street level from the popular shopping area of Nathan Road to the waterfront promenade where the Cultural Centre is located.
Activist Paul Zimmerman, whose group, Designing Hong Kong, helped persuade the Transport Department to make the change, welcomed the move.
"The restoration of the crossing will significantly improve walkability in Tsim Sha Tsui," Zimmerman said. "It will make it easier for local and international visitors to find their way."
He added that some local people were unhappy about the removal of the crossing in 2004, a decision taken to improve traffic flow, because they got lost in the tunnel, which winds through an underground shopping mall.
Zimmerman said a survey by his group in 2011 showed nearly eight out of 10 people polled preferred a direct crossing. He said the Transport Department showed little interest until it saw studies suggesting there would be minimal impact on traffic.
One of the studies was presented to Yau Tsim Mong District Council in March last year by management of the Avenue of Stars, the waterfront attraction that celebrates local film icons.
The Transport Department submitted its plan to restore the crossing to the district council in July last year.
Designing Hong Kong's call to reopen the crossing was part of its "Missing Links" campaign to improve walkability.