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Transport and logistics

Hong Kong cycling race cancelled for second time after authorities reject proposal for road closure near mega bridge

  • Transport Department says cycling association’s application for temporary closure of Sunny Bay Road on Sunday not accepted
  • Earlier race on nearby route also had to be cancelled after mega bridge opened at short notice in October
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 November, 2018, 7:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 November, 2018, 10:32pm

The organisers of a cycling race on Hong Kong’s Lantau Island have expressed dismay after they had to cancel their event a second time because of traffic concerns following the recent opening of the multibillion-dollar Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.

Around 150 cyclists, who had expected to compete on Sunday in a race organised by the Cycling Association of Hong Kong, China, were left disappointed after they were barred from one of the few “suitable” roads for the event.

The association heard its application for a road closure was rejected last Thursday, a spokesman said.

“We’ve been there at weekdays and weekends as well and we don’t see a big concern, [the Transport Department’s] rejection of our application was unreasonable,” the spokesman said.

Under the group’s proposal, the 5km race route would start near Sunny Bay MTR station on Sunny Bay Road, a rare stretch of flat pavement open to cyclists in hilly Hong Kong.

The route followed a loop along Sunny Bay Road and would not require closures on nearby Cheung Tung Road or the North Lantau Highway, the organisers said.

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But the department said that considering the present traffic conditions on Sunny Bay Road near the public transport interchange and the unsatisfactory proposal for temporary traffic arrangements, the application for a temporary closure of the road was not accepted.

The organisers, however, believed the recent influx of mainland Chinese visitors heading to Lantau via the cross-border bridge was likely behind the rejection.

Sunny Bay MTR station has become one of the transport hubs for thousands of weekend tourists arriving via the bridge, which opened on October 24, as authorities look to divert them from visiting Tung Chung, the nearest town.

Earlier this month, officials urged mainland tourists to head for other areas of the city via the Sunny Bay station, after 11,000 visitors took public buses from the bridge’s Hong Kong port to Tung Chung on the second Sunday after the 55km crossing opened.

The Travel Industry Council also called on travel agents to relocate coaches to Sunny Bay to ease congestion in Tung Chung.

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Local cyclists noted that traffic on roads surrounding the MTR station had changed considerably since the opening of the bridge.

“Around Sunny Bay at the moment there’s an awful lot of traffic and parked coaches,” said Daniel Mullin, ride coordinator of local sports group Lantau Buffalos.

“We’re pretty concerned about it, we’re not seen as equals [on the road] at the best of times.”

Mullin said parked coaches had decreased road visibility.

The road was uniquely popular with both leisure and serious cyclists as “one of the few flat roads across the whole of Hong Kong”, Mullin said.

The cycling association said it planned to continue talks with the authorities to use the area for future events. “The location is really nice for a cycling race so it would be upsetting if we can’t use it in the future,” the spokesman said.

An earlier race on a nearby route on Cheung Tung Road was scheduled for October 28 but also had to be cancelled after the bridge opened at short notice. Sunday’s race was meant to make up for the original cancellation.

“It’s difficult to find suitable roads for these kinds of events, because we don’t have many,” the spokesman said.