My Take

Ideas for Central's roads to go nowhere

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 August, 2015, 1:21am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 August, 2015, 1:21am

Action, reaction.

Someone proposes scrapping the tram service between Central and Admiralty. That immediately causes a furore. Green groups respond with a plan to pedestrianise Des Voeux Road Central up to Sheung Wan with only trams running along the road.

The green plan sounds good, but like the anti-tram proposal, it's not likely to get anywhere.

Indeed, over the years, there have been different plans to get rid of cars and traffic jams in Central. Each time, the bureaucrats take a pass.

The latest plan calls for making Des Voeux Road Central between Western Market in Sheung Wan and Pedder Street a car-free zone.

The westbound lanes in those sections are already for buses and trams only. It's the eastbound lanes that tie up traffic, thanks mostly to trucks and large vans taking up a whole lane to load and unload their goods.

It's fashionable to complain about private vehicles blocking traffic while waiting for tai-tais and tycoons in Central. But trucks are actually a far greater nuisance as many ignore double-yellow lines that prohibit even waiting or alighting. One plan, launched by Clean Air Network and Designing Hong Kong, calls for getting rid of all those trucks and cars. The rival plan by Intellects Consultancy, headed by former government city planner Sit Kwok-keung, wants to cancel trams to clear traffic, presumably so more trucks and vans may crowd into Central.

The transport trade is a powerful lobby behind such establishment groups as the Liberal Party and Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. Green groups are popular with pan-democratic forces.

The government hates to fight either group at this point so it will do nothing. The Transport Department has been especially timid when it comes to pedestrianisation in Central.

In many districts, some big roads have been made car-free. In Central, only small lanes such as Chiu Lung Street and Theatre Lane have done so. Even such popular nightlife spots as D'Aguilar Street and Lan Kwai Fong are only car-free some of the time.

Given the department's timidity, it's hard to expect any significant plan to improve traffic in our Central business district.