Pedestrian-only streets should be part of pilot scheme in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 June, 2017, 5:14pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 June, 2017, 10:57pm

I agree with correspondents who have called for more pedestrianised streets in Hong Kong and I think we should follow the example set by Singapore.

In October 2014, the Orchard Road Pedestrian Night was launched, which saw a 660 metre stretch of the shopping strip closed to traffic on the first Saturday of every month from 6pm to 11pm. Highlights on some occasions included a “movie lorry” showing local films, buskers, jugglers and street magicians.

Then in February last year, the Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority, Land Transport Authority and other organisations launched a “Car-free Sunday” pilot scheme in the city’s Civic District and parts of the central business district.

The streets were given over to walkers, joggers and cyclists, and the adjacent spaces used to host sports and fitness sessions, family-friendly activities and a picnic area. Car-free Sundays saw activities such as group fitness exercises including yoga, tennis and football matches, and a Christmas carnival.

The purpose of the temporary pedestrian-only street was to promote an active lifestyle among citizens and enhance liveability in the city. It is also a way to reclaim the usually busy roads during the weekends for cycling, jogging and walking, and make the city a more people-friendly and enjoyable place.

The Orchard Road Pedestrian Night was initially scheduled to run for a short period, but was extended. Between October 2014 and March 2015, it drew 50,000 visitors each time.

I am not sure if pedestrian night is still being organised in this part of the Lion City. But while it lasted, it was successful.

The Hong Kong government should also consider shutting off to cars parts of Central that are not so busy at the weekends.

Like the Singapore government, it could try this scheme out for a trial period, perhaps three to six months, before deciding if it should be extended to other districts in Hong Kong. It could be extended if there was a positive response from the public.

Having these pedestrian-only streets would encourage more Hongkongers to try walking as a form of exercise.

Through these various activities, they might also be likely to meet more people. The car-free streets would also be popular with tourists.

Eunice Li Dan-yue, Shanghai