Media release – Legco Candidates Call for Cycling Recognition and Planning
29 August 2012
Attention: News Editors
Legco Candidates Call for Cycling Recognition and Planning
Strong support for Harbourfront Cycleway
and a safety campaign directed at motorists
Legislative Council candidates overwhelmingly expect the Government to integrate cycling much more seriously into our transport system. In a survey conducted by Hong Kong Cycling Alliance, every candidate and party slate1 said that “the government should recognise cycling as transport, and incorporate its consideration in planning and operations.”
Why must cycling be recognised as transport?
Hong Kong Cycling Alliance notes that by recognising the reality that cycling is much more than a leisure activity, the government would, as a first step, have to undertake basic research as to bicycle ownership in Hong Kong, the cycle journeys that people make, public desire to cycle more, and then adjust planning processes and operations to consider the impacts and needs of bicycle users. This would steer Hong Kong towards the blossoming of cycling as active transportation seen elsewhere around Asia and the world over recent years.
Survey and respondent details
In early to mid-August, Hong Kong Cycling Alliance asked candidates in the upcoming Legislative Council election where they stood on issues related to cycling in Hong Kong, especially cycling as transport. Responses from individuals and parties encompass the views of 88 Geographical and Functional Constituency candidates out of 188 reached in the poll. Party position statements were received from the Civic Party and DAB while responses from sitting Legislative Councillors and other individuals represented views from the Democratic Party, Labour, People Power, the League of Social Democrats, Professional Commons, NWSC, HKPTU, New Century Forum and independents of various stripes. No responses were received from the Federation of Trade Unions, the Liberal Party or Economic Synergy.
Motorists’ responsibility for cyclists’ safety
When considering how to enable safety for cyclists on Hong Kong’s roads, every respondent1 supported “an approach to safety that places greater emphasis on motorists’ understanding of cyclists and proper driving behaviour around cyclists”. When asked what else would help make cycling safer, respondents from the Democratic Party2 urged the Government to introduce a comprehensive Cycling Policy that included consideration of safety. They called for the provision and management of support facilities in all districts, such as cycle lanes and parking, together with the promotion of cycling and the provision of high quality rider training.
Albert Chan Wai Yip (陳偉業) urged improvements to the existing cycle track system, such as better planned cycle path connectivity between areas within new towns and particularly between Tuen Mun and Tsuen Wan. The priority for Raymond Ho Man Kit (何民傑) is comprehensive plans for cycling development in each new town.
The Civic Party called for more cycle paths.
More cycle commuting, better informed public, more cycle training
There was strong, mostly very strong, support for a number of simple measures to encourage and enable safe, convenient cycling. Our Legco candidates want increased promotion of public information about the health and other benefits of regular cycling (supported at an average level of 5.0 on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 5 (very strongly)); encouragement of local cycle commuting, such as from home to MTR stations and other public transport interchanges (support level: 4.8); and decent cycling training for young people, such as in schools (support level: 4.9).
Government must set specific targets for more cycling
Many respondents also recognised the value of a quantified government target to increase the percentage of journeys made by bike (such as has been implemented by Beijing City Government) (support level of 4.4 among respondents). Strongly in favour were Civic Party members; Albert Chan and Raymond Wong Yuk Man of People Power; Cyd Ho of Labour; independent candidates Pong Yat Ming (龐一鳴), and Lo Wing Lok (勞永樂); and Engineering Functional Constituency candidate Albert Lai Kwong Tak of Professional Commons.
Democratic Party members mostly gave this measure ‘moderate’ support, suggesting that it was a possibility to be looked at, while remaining respondents3 were cooler.
Cyclists in the urban areas remain unsupported by Transport Department and other government branches, although of course cycling is perfectly legal, and indeed increasingly common. Government encouragement and support for more functional cycling in the urban areas was called for by many candidates (support level: 4.5) Strongly in favour were candidates who favoured a quantified target for cycling journeys, together with Avery Ng Man Yuen and Democratic Party member Wu Chi Wai (胡志偉). Wu’s DP colleagues were mostly reluctant to immediately support urban cycling, though.
Almost all respondents (support level: 4.9) agreed that there was a need for dedicated staff in Transport Department and other departments to advise on and coordinate cycling policy and issues, and improved coordination across government.
There was also unanimous (100%) support among the candidates for the creation of the Harbourfront Cycleway on Hong Kong Island and for further consideration of a cycle route along the Kowloon waterfront. Candidates understand that by ‘enabling the harbourfront’, the cycleway will allow people who visit Victoria Harbour to move freely along its shore (eg. rent a bike at one place and drop it off somewhere else). This will open up parts that are hard to reach, and create ‘the harbourfront’ as a single destination, rather than concentrating visitors at a few isolated points reachable from the MTR/bus/tram.
The cycleway project is widely supported by the public, as well as across the political spectrum and by many members of the Harbourfront Commission, but its future is very far from assured. Government planning officials remain sceptical. Will this united viewpoint from incoming legislators be the trigger for planning of this marvellous facility to begin in earnest?
Further comments by Democratic Party candidates emphasised the need for government to enable cycling to fulfil its potential transport role. They advocated integration of cycling into long-term transport policy, along with greater attention to enabling pedestrian movement.
Albert Chan urged community parking provision in every district, as well as greater development of mountain biking amenities.
Civic Party called for more cycle paths and strongly supported all the proposed cycling initiatives.
Pong Yat Ming (龐一鳴) proposed a public bicycle system like those seen in Paris, London, Kaohsiung, Hangzhou, Beijing etc.
Candidates of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) did not respond to the survey individually but the party provided its views on cycling in a separate paper, without directly answering the posed questions. The party did not say whether it favours the recognition of cycling as a form of transport, nor was there any mention of cycling on roads. In a position that seems close to that of the government, the paper focused on the use of cycle tracks, and certain perceived safety issues there, such as beginner riders’ ability to handle slopes, and calling for ‘rest areas’, the replacement of concrete and steel bollards on cycle tracks with plastic ones, and the installation of mirrors at sharp bends. (The latter two issues are already under consideration by the Transport Department.) The DAB suggested that cycling safety could be enhanced by more prosecutions of cyclists. No mention was made of a need for consideration of cycling in planning processes, other than supporting more cycle parking at MTR stations. Education of other road users towards and around cyclists was not included.
1. except Ma Fung Kwok
2. Hui Chi Fung (許智峯), Wu Chi Wai (胡志偉), Wong Sing Chi (黃成智), Josephine Chan Shu Ying (陳樹英) and Richard Tsoi Yiu Cheong (蔡耀昌)
3. Raymond Ho Man Kit, Avery Ng Man Yuen, Angel Leung On Kay, as well as Ip Kin Yuen (葉建源 ) of the Education Functional Constituency
About Hong Kong Cycling Alliance
Hong Kong Cycling Alliance works to promote a wider role for cycling in Hong Kong and to improve cycling conditions for today’s cyclists by engaging with authorities, offering practical support to planners, and coordinating the action of Hong Kong’s many cycling clubs and groups.
Further information available from:
Anita Lo (盧劉淑儀)
Leo Wong (黃冠昇)