Low-speed zones in Hong Kong’s Central and Sham Shui Po will only add to congestion, critics of road safety trials say
- Lawmaker and workers’ union representative say measures should be set up at danger spots in New Territories or Sai Kung instead
- An independent panel had advised authorities to look into speed limits for certain areas, possibly in urban sites
A Hong Kong lawmaker and a workers’ union representative are opposing road safety trials by authorities to set up low-speed zones in crowded urban areas such as Central, saying the measures would only lead to more traffic congestion.
Speaking on a radio programme on Wednesday, Legislative Council transport committee chairman Ben Chan Han-pan said: “I’m more concerned about hilly areas and places with turns,” adding that spots such as a notorious bend on Tai Po Road in the New Territories should be targeted instead.
He was challenging a government response to a panel suggestion – part of 45 safety-related recommendations – raised by an independent review committee on franchised bus services, following a 21-day inquiry. Transport authorities on Tuesday pledged to implement most of the proposals.
The committee had advised the Transport Department to identify suitable locations, possibly in urban areas with high pedestrian traffic, to conduct trials with speed limits of 30km/h.
Commissioner for Transport Mable Chan Mei-bo said on the same programme that the government had been studying the panel’s recommendations and planned to choose appropriate spots in Central and Sham Shui Po to conduct trials for the low-speed zones.
Chan said Britain had also been looking into similar measures, and locally, while the department had not decided on the exact sites, examples included Pedder Street and Des Voeux Road Central. “We will consider this carefully.”
But Lai Siu-chung, deputy director of the KMB branch of the Motor Transport Workers General Union, echoed Ben Chan’s views: “I feel shocked that they are going to do it in Central and Sham Shui Po.”
He said it would certainly worsen traffic congestion in these areas.
“It will be more practical for the government to set low-speed zones in areas like Sai Kung,” Lai said, adding that he had noted dangerous driving sections as he had lived there for a long time.
The three-member independent review committee is chaired by judge Michael Lunn, who is vice-president of the Court of Appeal. It was appointed by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor after a horrific bus crash in Tai Po last February led to 19 deaths.
Other recommendations from the committee include introducing new legislation to improve the working conditions of drivers of Hong Kong’s franchised buses, and tougher action against abusive passengers.
In the report, the committee criticised the government and bus operators for failing to adopt a proactive approach to franchised bus safety.