If you’re riding a bike next week, Hong Kong police will be watching you
Force launches crackdown on reckless riders after almost 2,000 accidents last year, but Cycling Alliance chief says car drivers should be the targets
Planning a bit of cycling this Easter weekend? Stay in your lane and keep your lights on at night, because the police have their eyes out for reckless riders.
A 10-day campaign of stepped-up enforcement began on Friday and will end on April 8. The crackdown comes after Hong Kong saw more than 1,900 bicycle-related accidents last year.
Acting chief inspector for the New Territories South traffic division, Cheng Ka-chun, said close to 80 per cent of bicycle-related accidents stemmed from cyclists losing their balance or riding carelessly or inattentively.
Officers will be on the lookout for those failing to abide by traffic rules or signs.
“We will mainly target common yet serious cycling offences, including riding recklessly or carelessly and not turning on the necessary lights in the dark of night,” Cheng said.
Those neglecting the safety of other road users, or zigzagging unnecessarily on biking tracks, would also be considered careless, he added.
First-time offenders will be fined, with no prior verbal warnings given.
However, Martin Turner, who chairs the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance, said the campaign was “ridiculous” and would do nothing to improve safety.
“The danger to cyclists in Hong Kong comes from vehicle drivers,” Turner said.
Most serious accidents were caused by vehicles being too close to cyclists, he added.
Instead of targeting bikers, the government should improve education for car drivers to encourage them to keep a safe distance, he said.
In Britain, a police-led programme of plain-clothes officers taking to the roads on bikes to catch offenders had yielded results, Turner said.
If a driver failed to keep the required distance from the cycling officer, he or she would be pulled over.
Cheng said there were 1,917 traffic accidents involving bicycles last year, which had injured 1,976 people and left 10 dead.
The number, however, was slightly down on that for 2016.
Some 548 bicycle accidents took place in New Territories South last year, Cheng said, where most of Hong Kong’s major cycle tracks are located.
Police officers were seen on Friday on a popular track running from Sha Tin to Ma On Shan. They observed, gave instructions and handed out fliers to cyclists.
According to Hong Kong’s Road Traffic Ordinance, careless or reckless cycling can lead to a fine of HK$500, with repeat offenders facing imprisonment for up to three months.
Wearing a helmet, however, is not listed as a requirement in the Transport Department’s Road Users’ Code.