I am writing in response to the article, “Bicycles still discouraged in Hong Kong urban areas due to ‘high traffic density’” (SCMP, September 25).
Cycling is a very environmentally-friendly form of transport and a healthy way for people to go about their daily activities. It is a common mode of transport and a popular recreational activity in some European countries, such as the Netherlands and Denmark.
In this sense, Hong Kong is way behind. The city is not a safe place for bike riding because it is too crowded. Its roads are full of cars and other vehicles which pose a serious danger for cyclists.
According to the article, there are 340 bicycle prohibition zones in Hong Kong.
Some people may argue that a “cycling culture” is beneficial for people’s health so it should be promoted in Hong Kong. But we should not follow other countries just for the sake of it. We need to have proper plans.
Hong Kong already has many cycling tracks and parks, especially in the New Territories. Riding on a cycling track is much safer than riding on congested roads.
Safety should be a priority in whatever we do. There must be some good reasons for the government to ban cyclists from so many areas in the city.
Heidi Cheng, King Ling College
Thanks for your letter, Heidi. Finally, there’s some good news for cycling fans. The Hong Kong government is planning to lift a biking ban on 16 bridges and flyovers in the coming months.
Some people say the changes are not enough since there are 340 bicycle prohibition zones across the city. Others have expressed concern about the possible effect on road safety.
The authorities are facing a difficult decision because they need to strike a balance between safety and recreation.
I don’t think we can compare Hong Kong with European countries where many places are easy to reach and can be explored by bike. In the Netherlands, for example, there are 32,000 kilometres of cycle paths. In Denmark, tourists as well as locals are encouraged to go on “cycling holidays”; they can hire a bike and see the sights and attractions along the way. Obviously Hongkongers cannot have such “great fun”. But we are on the right path.
The decision to abolish bicycle prohibition zones on some bridges and roads is a good sign.
Hopefully, the government will one day lift most of the city’s cycling restrictions.
M. J. Premaratne, Sub-editor