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Cyclists getting a raw deal

September 24th, 1996 | Posted by Hong Kong Cycling Alliance in SCMP | uncategorised

I heartily concur with the views of Lawrence Matthews ‘Cycling fines are ridiculous’ (SCMP, September 17) concerning the Government’s persecution of mountain bikers. Why has the Government chosen to effectively outlaw this sport by giving cyclists Hobson’s Choice.

Either they gamble with their lives against Hong Kong’s traffic on narrow, congested and lung-choking roads or they face imprisonment for daring to enjoy fresh air while taking some invigorating exercise in the green great outdoors? It is indeed lucky that an earlier incarnation of the Government did not choose to adopt a similar ban on the equally environmentally-friendly sport of windsurfing. If they had chosen to reduce the use of Hong Kong’s waters only to power-boats or swimmers, we would not have a gold medal to celebrate from the Olympic Games.

Mountain biking is now an Olympic sport and Hong Kong has talented mountain bikers, but there is nowhere to practise and bring these skills to Olympic standard without breaking the law, as all off-road trails are in country parks, which are designated off-limits.

We appreciate that there is a danger of hikers wandering into the path of a bike, but to prevent this is hardly cause to throw someone in jail. Off-road bikers stick to paths and do not cause any more damage to trails than walkers.

Furthermore, there are villagers who ride bikes through the parks purely to get to their homes. Do the concerned authorities jail them for using the only mode of transport available to them? I feel the Government should reconsider this law and rather than place a total ban, strongly consider designated trails for bikes, a code of practice, or possibly a time restriction allowing bikes into the parks at certain times with the proviso that hikers have the right of way.

In these days of fearsome and polluting congestion on Hong Kong’s roads, and with the average citizen confined to air-conditioned buildings for most of his waking hours, the Government should be encouraging people to ride bicycles.

Gregory Pinches

Yuen Long

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