為單車站起來 Stand up for Cycling
Now is your chance to stand up for cycling and address the Chief Executive directly. If you support the below letter, please tell him now, using this form. Even better if you can add your own message.
Your voice will help CY Leung understand that Hong Kong people expect his Government to promote and integrate cycling in our transport system and as part of the development of Hong Kong.
Your letter is sent to the Chief Executive, cc:Secretary for Transport and Housing, Secretary for the Environment, Secretary for Development, Secretary for Food & Health, Secretary for Home Affairs, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, and to the office administering the policy address
Letter to the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, December 2013
Cycling in Hong Kong
Hong Kong Cycling Alliance urges the Administration to establish priorities that encourage and enable cycling, and announce them in the Chief Executive’s 2014 Policy Address to the Hong Kong people.Executive summary
As much of the rest of the world enjoys a resurgence in cycling, and its integration into forward-thinking policy, Hong Kong is also seeing increased bicycle use, for transport and leisure. Yet, despite some steps by entities and government departments that facilitate cycling, in Hong Kong there remains a policy void and major opportunity in this important area.
People in Hong Kong ride bicycles for all sorts of reasons. For many, it is their daily means of transport, especially – but not exclusively – in the new towns, islands and other parts of the New Territories. Some commute to work or school, while others simply jump on their bike to get around their locality. A large number ride the roads for sport, fitness or training, including a thriving competition scene that has recently brought Hong Kong high honours internationally. Many clubs and groups of friends cycle as a social activity, perhaps exploring the New Territories or taking to urban streets at night. Meanwhile, thousands head to the new towns at weekends to rent bikes on cycle tracks, such as the popular Tolo Harbour bike path. And bicycles serve our community in myriad other ways, including delivery services, inbound tourism, outbound touring in China and neighbouring countries, social enterprises, our vibrant mountain biking and BMX communities, as well as – for those lucky enough to live where this is practicable – giving children the thrill of independent mobility and self-realisation.
However, Hong Kong today is sadly behind the global trend to increase support for and integration of cycling, and our bike unfriendliness is much noted by visitors and commentators.
A safe and inclusive cycling environment is good for all of us
It is widely acknowledged, including recently by the Secretary for Transport and Housing,[Ref 1] that cycling is increasingly popular in Hong Kong.
So it is regrettable that people who cycle here today do not receive the consideration and support they deserve from their government.
Everyone who rides a bike shares a common interest in a safe and welcoming cycling environment. It matters not whether they are riding to work or riding for pleasure, or both. Yet our roads are generally regarded as hostile.
Moreover, a more comfortable environment in which to cycle would serve public goals as more people took up this panacea for so many of Hong Kong’s ills: congestion, pollution, an overloaded public transport network, frustratingly slow local travel, stress, and a high incidence of sedentary illnesses that kill thousands of Hong Kongers every year.
The benefits can match those in the UK, where the government has identified billions of pounds worth of savings in congestion, pollution and healthcare from promoting an increase in cycling.[Ref 2]
As our own Centre for Health Protection noted last year, the health and other benefits associated with cycling in an urban environment outweigh the potential risks of road traffic accidents or exposure to air pollution many times over.[Ref 3]
Globally, it has been found that the personal benefits of improved health through regular exercise are effectively realised through increasing the proportion of journeys that are made by bike.
From a policy perspective, the societal benefits of cycling accrue across different areas: transportational efficiency, individual and community health, economic efficiency, civic vibrancy, the environment, tourism – and that to recognise the value to society of more cycling requires a multi-disciplinary approach and visionary leadership.
Hong Kong is unique, like everywhere else, and ready to cycle
We note that Hong Kong has unique characteristics, such as relatively low car ownership and concomitant high usage rate of public transport.
However, around the world, administrations planning to encourage cycling hear the argument that their city faces exceptional barriers to two-wheeled transport. Please do not heed such narrowness about Hong Kong. Cycling is flourishing in places that are hot, cold, compact, sprawling, polluted, poor, affluent, developed, developing, crime-ridden, democratic, oppressed and with every other characteristic.[Ref 4]
In Hong Kong, we are blessed with opportunities when it comes to cycling (perhaps why it is growing so fast). Our compact urban layout brings maximal benefits from functional cycling’s 500m to 5 km ‘sweet spot’. The well-developed public transport network makes integrated movement of bikes feasible over medium distances, and across the harbour and through hills. And our glorious countryside is in within easy reach of urban dwellers and tourists to cycle to or within.
We therefore call on you to announce in your forthcoming Policy Address a policy of encouraging and enabling Hong Kong people to cycle, especially as transport, placing cycling firmly and constructively within all planning and administrative processes, and coordinating across departments to ensure that the benefits that accrue from increased cycling are fully realised.
• • •
For your consideration, we now identify a number of specific facilities, provisions and actions in respect of cycling that we believe would be of benefit. We urge the Administration to move forward decisively to realise the following:
1. Create safe streets
We support the road safety vision of “Zero Accidents on the Road, Hong Kong’s Goal” and note with concern the disproportionately high death and injury rates for bicycle-borne road users. It has been seen around the world that safer streets yields economic, health and mobility benefits that span society, including the traffic-vulnerable in our young people and in the elderly. Cyclists, too, are at risk amid high traffic volumes and speeds. For the safety of all we urge zero tolerance of speeding and dangerous driving practices such as unsafe overtaking.
Many secondary urban streets should be traffic-calmed – to rebalance the street environment towards pedestrians, but also so that more people are able to confidently and safely cycle with motor traffic.
On-street protected bike lanes, such as have been successfully implemented in cities worldwide, should be trialled in Hong Kong.
We call for progressive traffic planning that enhances mobility and ensures safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
2. Role of Transport Department
We welcome the recent statement by the Secretary for Transport and Housing,[Ref 1] recognising the health and environmental benefits of cycling, and stating that a cycling policy is being developed. We very much hope that this will be a comprehensive and visionary plan that strongly integrates with Planning, Health, Environment, Education and other areas of responsibility, and that will take Hong Kong forward in terms of cycling support and provision.
In particular, the Transport Department has long ignored the fundamental transportational role of cycling, suggesting rather that it is “mainly a leisure and recreational activity”, despite that surveys show that cycling is used and regarded as a major form of transport among Hong Kong people.[Ref 5] Recent concessions that cycling may be used for “short distance travel in new towns” are a start but do little to ease concerns, especially as the department continues to focus its cycling thinking on cycle tracks, not normal roads. This broad denial has substantial ramifications in terms of the absence of consideration of cycling from planning, standards and data gathering, and holds back other departments such as AFCD and LCSD in provision for people using facilities they build and operate, blocking attention to functional cycling such as on the New Territories Cycle Track Network.
By comparison, in 2008, the Singapore government acknowledged
“The Ministry [of Transport] used to view cycling as a form of recreation. But we now also recognise that it is an additional or alternative mode of transport.”[Ref 6]
We urge the formal recognition of the transport function of cycling, throughout Hong Kong, as the basis for a review of policy in this area.
3. Develop a quantified profile of cycling in Hong Kong
There is currently an acute lack of data pertaining the nature and extent of cycling in Hong Kong. Despite that there are clearly more bicycles here than all other vehicles combined, Departments – notably Transport Department – have scant understanding of the numbers and distribution of bicycle ownership, extent and nature of functional and discretionary cycling, journeys made, distances travelled or desire to cycle more.
The annual Traffic Census does not measure or even mention cycling.[Ref 7] The decennial Travel Characteristics Survey collects only limited information.
In Shatin District alone, in 2007, there were more than 150,000 bicycles owned, and 65.1% of local residents regarded cycling as an important mode of transport, found a study by Shatin District Council.[Ref 5] What is the situation across Hong Kong, now? We don’t know.
We urge the government to develop a quantified picture of the current and projected/potential cycling profile of Hong Kong.
4. Provide bicycle parking that meets the needs of cyclists
Where significant numbers of bikes are in use, such the new towns today, the availability of adequate well-planned, safe, convenient cycle parking is a critical factor in encouraging cycling without creating undesirable conflicts. Recent attention to this area by Transport Department is welcome but has been limited in scope, such as a recent study.[Ref 8]
Major parking areas on cycle tracks, especially at MTR stations most certainly need improved cycle parking, but the department’s focus fails to extend much further. There appears to have been no quantitative measure of the distribution of cycle journeys and related parking needs at residential areas or smaller local locations across towns and beyond, and negligible consideration of any cycle movements on public roads.
Ongoing confiscations each year of thousands of bikes from non-designated cycle parking locations are ill thought-out, extremely unpopular, and unhelpful to sound policy.
As a first step, we advocate that an initial study be conducted of cycle movements, journey durations and reasons for journeys made by bike, and projects the likely growth and nature of demand.
5. Facilitate the bicycle–public transport chain
A key factor in the successful development of cycling is its integration with public transport services, including the carriage of bikes and provision of parking for effective bi-modal journeys.
In 2011, MTRC announced that bikes would be carried on all lines, bringing immediate benefits in increased cycling and reduced motor vehicle journeys. (Though it is a pity that this service has not been publicised.) Many, though not all, ferry services also carry bikes, for a charge. However, no bus services accept regular bikes, in contrast to other globally important cities, such as car-centric Los Angeles, which have installed bike racks on the front and/or back of buses.[Ref 9]
In Hong Kong, a valuable initial phase should be the installation of bicycle racks on tunnel buses and other priority bus routes to enable connectivity across the city, through major high-ground barriers, and across the harbour.
We urge a policy that seamlessly integrates movement by bicycle with our public transport infrastructure.
6. Public education
Many Hong Kong people are simply unaware that a bicycle rider has the same rights (and obligations) as any other road user, and this ignorance leads to some motorists showing insufficient care, or even aggression, towards cyclists, resulting in avoidable collisions and a road environment seen as hostile to anyone on a bike.
At present people who walk and cycle bear an unbalanced proportion of the burden of avoiding and evading the dangers caused by faster traffic.
Twice-yearly police campaigns directed at cyclists in the name of safety glaringly omit to address the behaviours and knowledge of other road users and so fail to address primary safety issues. Motorists need to be reminded, in the literature and in the law, that anyone on a bike has an equal right to use the road.
The actual and perceived risks of death and injury while cycling can be much reduced if motorists and the general public are given a greater understanding of bicycle riding on Hong Kong roads, building on recent small steps in this direction by Transport Department.
We urge a major public education campaign to instil in motorists an understanding of the rights, needs and vulnerability of cyclists.
Importantly, in pursuit of its widely recognised health, environmental, mobility and other benefits, cycling should be promoted as transport, with the aim to raise its modal share towards a quantified target.
7. Reinvigorate the plan to incorporate cycle tracks into Kai Tak Development
Plans for a cycle track network across the Kai Tak Development were included in the relevant Outline Zoning Plan and later extended. Although designated for ‘leisure’ use under Transport Department constraints, this would provide important short-distance connectivity for residents and visitors at this large new area. We recently learned that all plans for cycling within KTD have been put on hold until after all other construction is completed, forgoing the advantage of green-field development and missing a valuable opportunity.[Ref 10]
We urge that the comprehensive cycle track network be urgently reinstated into current development at KTD and adjusted to recognise their important connectivity function.
8. Create a pilot district that proactively enables and encourages cycling
For residents of (most of) the new towns, the cycle track networks are a key facility, despite various deficiencies in design, connectivity and maintenance. With more and more people taking up cycling to get around, and a clear need for innovative policy development in cycling, one of these towns would make an ideal test bed for how cycling can be promoted and developed in Hong Kong: perhaps Tai Po, with its long tradition of cycling, or Tseung Kwan O, where recently laid cycle tracks are better designed.
Measures could include:
- traffic calming (especially on minor roads – the majority), so that more people feel confident to cycle with road traffic;
- protected bike lanes or priority space for cyclists on selected roads, with space absorbed from roadways and not pavements;
- sharrows – surface markings alerting all road users to share the space with respect
- cycle training, for adults and in schools – a good model would be the UK’s (government backed) Bikeability programme[Ref 11]
- a bike-to-work programme, with incentives for local employers and institutions [Ref 12]
- public education, about the benefits of cycling to individuals and the community, and the balanced rights and obligations of all road users [or the obligation of motorists to take especial care around cyclists]
- signage, highlighting the ‘cycling town’ status, as well as functional (priorities and rights) and advisory (share the road) signs
- comprehensive effort to bring cycle track networks up to best practice status, aiming to maximise cycle traffic flow and optimising network layout with respect to actual and desired journey patterns. Learn from overseas experience of balanced junction design.
We advocate the designation and creation of a pilot ‘Cycling District’ as a matter of priority.
9. Plan for a continuous cycle route along the new Hong Kong Harbourfront
A cycleway along the harbourfront would help fulfil expectations of a vibrant, accessible public space that serves all Hong Kongers. This proposal for such a route on Hong Kong side has wide support from public and across society. This route would both enable the Harbourfront as a destination and be an attraction in its own right, with harbourfront cycling as a unique tourism draw.[Ref 12] [Ref 13]
We urge that a continuous cycle route be integrated into Harbourfront Development planning for Hong Kong Island.
10. Establish a single body to oversee the position of cycling in policy
International experience shows that the range of policy areas involved in cycling – including health, transport, and the environment – make it appropriate to create a single body to coordinate the place of the bicycle. We look forward to the creation of such an entity for Hong Kong, clearly tasked with promoting increased levels of participation in cycling through the harmonisation of the actions of responsible entities, including land use planning and traffic and transport policy. A part of its remit should be to advise you of what further iteration of itself might be beneficial, in due course. A relevant model may be the Harbourfront Enhancement Committee, becoming the Harbourfront Commission, and now towards the Harbourfront Authority.
We urge the appointment of a task force to coordinate the place of the bicycle in policy.
Hong Kong should act to encourage cycling as a healthy, sustainable, efficient way to get around and enjoy life, as so many other cities and communities already are.
With more and more Hong Kong people taking up cycling, especially for transport but also for leisure and sport, the government has an obligation to incorporate their needs into planning and service provision.
Much more than that, experience elsewhere and much evidence shows that cycling offers enormous societal opportunities to improve health, reduce congestion, improve our environment, lower costs and boost quality of life.
Hong Kong is already cycling, and government departments and other bodies have begun to offering piecemeal support. What is needed is a coherent and comprehensive policy that promotes transportational bicycle use.
Please use the opportunity of this policy address to make a commitment to promoting the development of cycling in Hong Kong.
Chairman, Hong Kong Cycling Alliance
For Hong Kong Cycling Alliance, and on behalf of supporters of cycling throughout Hong Kong
About Hong Kong Cycling Alliance
The Hong Kong Cycling Alliance works to encourage an improved environment for cycling in Hong Kong and to promote a wider role for cycling – for commuting and transport, recreation, tourism, health and fitness, and fun. We develop practical cycling solutions, engage with authorities, provide technical expertise to planners and others, enhance public appreciation of cycling, support the take-up of cycling by individuals and organisations, and share news and information with Hong Kong’s growing cycling community.
Speech by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, at the Hong Kong Institute of Planners Annual Dinner, 5 December 2013
Benefits of Cycling
Department for Transport, United Kingdom
Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection
Cycling safety: What the UK could learn from New York
BBC, 4 December 2013
“Everyone says it’s greener grass somewhere else. .. There are local conditions but I think they can be overcome.”
Jon Orcott, New York City transport policy director
Development of Shatin Towards a Cycling City, Study Report for Shatin DC (Traffic and Transportation Committee),
conducted by Chinese University Centre for Environmental Policy and Resource Mgt
2012 Traffic Census
Traffic and Transport Consultancy Study on Cycling Networks and Parking Facilities in Existing New Towns in Hong Kong
Bikes on Buses
Los Angeles Department of Transportation
Exchange Meeting with Various Cycling Associations – Notes of Meeting
27 August 2013
Kowloon Development Office, CEDD
‘Bikeability‘ cycling skills training scheme in United Kingdom:
Level 1 – basic bike handling skills
Level 2 – cycling on minor roads
Level 3 – cycling in all traffic conditions
Cycle to work scheme
Department for Transport, United Kingdom
Harbourfront Commission Paper No. HC-19-2011
Planning a continuous cycle route along the harbourfront on Hong Kong Island, and Kowloon too