A small increase in car numbers won't destroy Lantau idyll

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 August, 2015, 4:07pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 August, 2015, 4:07pm

I refer to the letters by Bert Young ("Hong Kong would be perfect location for electronic road pricing", July 28) and Jacqueline Green ("Plan will ruin quiet pastoral lifestyle", July 30), on the relaxation of traffic restrictions in south Lantau.

Currently, Tung Chung Road (the section south of Shek Mun Kap Road) and all roads in south Lantau are designated as closed roads. Residents and business operators will be issued with permits for access to south Lantau. Members of the public with genuine needs to enter the area may also apply for temporary permits from the Transport Department.

Regarding the road condition in south Lantau, the department has proposed adjusting the maximum number of tour coaches that may enter per day from 30 to 50; and permitting 50 private cars to enter on weekdays (except public holidays) for leisure and recreational purposes.

The government has always adopted a policy centred on public transport. At present, more than 12 million passenger trips, around 90 per cent of total trips, use various modes of public transport per day, making Hong Kong one of the least private car-dependent cities in the world.

The department considers that the above mild relaxations will not compromise this policy and are in tandem with the current planning intention for preserving south Lantau as a conservation area, and they would not cause unacceptable adverse impact on the environment, road safety and the general livelihood of the residents.

The proposal can help to promote tourism and other developments in the area.

The existing public roads in south Lantau are in general safe for driving and able to accommodate the extra vehicles arising from the relaxation proposal. Notwithstanding this, a number of improvement works have been carried out to widen road bends, of which 10 have already been completed and a few others are under planning or in progress.

As to the speed control measures like road humps , usually they are only suitable on private access roads for reducing vehicle speed to below 20km/h. They should not normally be installed on roads forming part of a public transport route.

The Transport Department has been consulting relevant stakeholders - including committees of the district council and the Lantau Development Advisory Committee, rural committees, the public transport trades and 36 green groups concerned - on the relaxation proposal. We are still collecting public responses and will consider the views received before finalising the proposal.

Irene Ho, assistant commissioner for transport (New Territories)