The Hong Kong Cyclothon can be put on the right track
Chaos and confusion are not uncommon for a public event held for the first time. With thousands of participants the challenge is even bigger. So the problems encountered by the Hong Kong Cyclothon this month were understandable. If they are reflected in more careful planning and preparation, the event can become a keenly anticipated attraction on a par with the Hong Kong Marathon that promotes healthy exercise.
The Tourism Board has apologised for the inadequate arrangements for its first cycling festival. From signage to manpower deployment, from traffic management to routing and events schedules, there is room for improvement.
Worse, experienced cyclists approaching the finishing line of the highly anticipated 35km race ran into amateur participants who were about to begin their 10km ride. They had to slow down and let each other pass.
Separately, Lantau's outbound traffic also ground to a halt as part of the Tsing Ma Bridge was used by cyclists. The frustration of those held up in the congestion was understandable. Despite the city hosting different mega events throughout the year, public tolerance for disruption remains low.
That explains why the marathon, which attracts tens of thousands of people every year, has to be staged before the city wakes up.
However, the problems with the cyclothon are mainly logistic issues, which can be resolved with better preparation and coordination. The organisers can tap the marathon experience and improve the routes and schedules.
The cycling festival is more than a tourism booster. Our cycling population was growing long before the board sought to capitalise on the pedalling fever to boost the ailing tourism industry.
As in some other cities, cycling is increasingly a leisure pastime as much as an eco-friendly way of commuting. With appropriate policy promotion and infrastructural support, cycling can play an even bigger role in our way of living.