Why must Hong Kong people recreate MTR rush hour crowds everywhere they go?
- Hongkongers don’t just live in crowded conditions – sometimes it’s as though they look for them
Hongkongers seem to love to pack into places. Walking in Wan Chai on Christmas Eve, I found much of the pavement and roads clear and empty, until I came to the Lee Tung Avenue walking street. Totally packed, shoulder to shoulder and more trying to pack in. Why? It seems we Hongkongers love to recreate the environment of an MTR train during rush hour: not being able to move, taking baby steps because of the crowds.
Have Hongkongers not learned from past crowd disasters, such as the tragic New Year’s Eve stampede in Lan Kwai Fong in 1993?
Once, while taking a ferry to Lamma on a bank holiday, I took a seat to wait. Many passengers went to the front gate, then more people came and went to the front. This was before a ferry had even arrived, and in the end there was a totally packed front area with many passengers waiting shoulder to shoulder and more pushing to get into the crowd. I, like many of the wiser people and the Lamma residents, remained seated until the ferry had berthed and the football match-like crowd had embarked, and then walked unimpeded to a seat. It is very rare for there to be no seats as the passengers are counted.
This mentality is also seen on the trams – if two trams going to the same destination arrive together, everyone seems to pack into the first one, making it uncomfortable for all.
I would have thought that people living in one of the most densely populated areas on the planet would like space and not flock to compacted crowds.
The population density is getting worse, with four- or five-floor walk-up buildings housing 20 families being replaced by 40-50 floors of smaller units packing in 100 families on the same footprint. I see little long-term hope for Hong Kong, with some areas becoming dysfunctional at certain times of the day.
Alan Browning, North Point