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After three years, Transport Department has casually put up on its website the ‘Nine Towns Study’ that it has been promising for so long:
Traffic and Transport Consultancy Study on Cycling Networks, Parking Facilities in Existing New Towns in Hong Kong

I’ve not had time to read it all yet, but, like the interim reports, the result seems underwhelming.  It only ever tried to look at cycle tracks and a few specific facilities in new towns, not general cycling on roads and the cycling environment as a whole.  Or planning ahead for New Development Areas.  And I note that the original scope has been cut, with no sign of the promised “conceptual improvement layout plan for each new town”.

On parking, it notes that there is not enough designated parking (that took three years to work out?) but the discussion quickly drops into TD’s favourite issue of what style of parking facility to buy, rather than, say, how to measure and determine where parking is necessary, especially small-scale distributed parking, away from the obvious MTR locations.  (Cyclehoop, anybody?)

The issue of poor connectivity of tracks is identified, which is good, but this problem will never be successfully addressed until we aim to maximise throughflow of bike traffic — as in, prioritising cyclists wherever possible, and certainly wherever bikes are the major flow.  No mention of that here.

The proposals, within this narrow remit, seem mostly small-scale and unimaginative.  So we have a three-year, multi-million-dollar report suggesting things like:

  • put up plastic bollards in place of steel – to reduce injury severity (already TD’s plan, when they should be removed entirely to .. er .. eliminate the injuries altogether);
  • paint markings to guide cyclists away from obstacles (just a stopgap: where are the planning guidelines for obstacle-free cycleways?);
  • paint track surface colours to show trunk and local routes (irrelevant if tracks are still used by commuters, wobblers, sports riders, and kids, with no policy consideration of who and what the tracks are for. Or real training.)
  • lots of soft padding on things in the way, such as newly erected poles carrying mirrors.
  • installing railings designed to make parking your bike harder (when it’s not even an offence to park a bike on a footway, central reserve, verge, hard shoulder etc, if no danger or actual obstruction is caused).

Of course, the study makes a number of valid points and raises genuine issues.  In particular, it presses for tracks to be connected at various places where currently there are gaps (and recognises that this will involve rebalancing some priorities). It also calls for the implementation of shared footpaths; improved signage and surface markings; cyclist access to leisure facilities (ie. everywhere managed by LCSD); and having Highways Dept staff cycle the tracks at night to determine lighting needs. Many specific problem locations on tracks are enumerated.

If the government, starting with TD, intends to act positively, the study could point towards some modest improvements for cyclists in the new towns.

However, in essence, by looking only at cycle tracks, with no assessment of wider transport policy, patterns of cycle journeys made, and aspirations among cyclists and potential cyclists, it was never going to offer a strategy for more effectively incorporating cycling into our communities.  Then by proposing largely what TD is already thinking (or has done!) – minor capital expenditure that tinkers with existing infrastructure, and no solid planning basis for avoiding the same mistakes in future – it falls sadly flat.

More detailed comment will follow.

You can read the report here:
http://www.td.gov.hk/filemanager/en/publication/td_194_2009_es_eng.pdf

 

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Whether or not you follow the progress of cycling in London, it is interesting that the city’s new ‘cycling commissioner’,  Andrew Gilligan, is being candid and constructive about where London’s bike environment is, and where it is going.

Of course, he recognises that attention must be paid to both segregated and on-road routes, and particularly he emphasises the need for designs that meet international best practice, criticising several schemes already in progress, which would be already heavenly in Hong Kong terms, in that they were implemented by an administration that believed in the contribution of cycling.  But the low position we start from here is an opportunity, right?

This post from ‘Cyclists in the City’ is recommended.

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方便推單車上落樓梯的斜道(星加坡)bicycle pullway in Singapore

方便推單車上落樓梯的斜道(星加坡)

單車泊位(星加坡)

單車泊位(星加坡)

這個渡假村加設了單車泊位及方便推單車上落樓梯的斜道,是兩年前我到訪此地時未見有的。希望很快在香港也能見到類似單車專用斜道這樣的小設施,雖然星加坡也不算是對單車有完善支援的城巿,但小小一個設施已反映著和香港不一樣的態度。

 

東海岸公園的單車徑(星加坡)

東海岸公園的單車徑(星加坡)

這和馬路差不多一樣寬闊的路不是馬路,是位於東海岸公園的單車徑,攝於東海岸公園海鮮中心對出。希望香港的單車徑都有這個水準。

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We have sent the first part of the long list of  locations that the cyclists of Hong Kong would like to see cycling unbanned. There’s more locations we will send later, but these will get the discussion started.

If you have more locations that you would like us to request for cycling to be unbanned, you can use this page to look at the locations we have so far and send us a location if it is not included already.

Ref Location
#1 Legco/Tamar Underpass legco-tamar
#2 IFC Underpass IFC underpass
#3 Hung Hom – Cheung Wan Road Hung Hom - Cheung Wan Road
#4 Fleming Road Fleming Road
#5 Marsh Road Marsh Road
#6 Connaught Road West (non-highway)  Connaught Road West
#7 Salisbury Road Salisbury Road
#8 Canton Road Canton Road
#9 Choi Hung Road Flyover Choi Hung Road Flyover
#10 Road from Ho Pui to Tai Lam <no photo available>
#11 High Island Reservoir, Sai Kung Sai Wan Rd <no photo available>
#12 Maclehose Section 10 <no photo available>
#13 Yuen Long Sewage Treatment Plant <no photo available>
#14 Brides Pool Road Brides Pool Road
#15 LCSD Central Waterfront <no photo available>
#16 Hung Hom Waterfront <no photo available>
#17 Shing Mun Country Park <no photo available>
#18 Cycle track adjacent to Caritas Lok Kan School <no photo available>
#19 Discovery Bay Tunnel Discovery bay Tunnel
#20 Tai Tam Reservoir Road Tai Tam Reservoir Road

 

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廣州地鐵站(越秀公園)外的公共單車租賃點

廣州地鐵站(越秀公園)外的公共單車租賃點

 

廣州的公共單車

廣州的公共單車

單車租賃點同時提供收費單車停泊服務

單車租賃點同時提供收費單車停泊服務

廣州巿區的單車行車道(於中山路)

廣州巿區的單車行車道(於中山路)

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We at Hong Kong Cycling Alliance are very proud to be a part of the first ever Hong Kong Bicycle Film Festival on 10th-13th January, and with the tickets on sale today, we’ll be rushing to get our seats booked..!
當下踩單車不只是潮流,更是文化。單車電影節集結世界各地獨立影片,述說有關單車的喜怒哀樂,2011年巡迴全球廿多個城市,吸引超過三十萬人欣賞。今回來到香港,正好乘著近來的單車熱,讓我們知道除了大尾篤、BBQ和牛下女車神外,關於單車還有無限可能性!
Cycling has recently become not just a trend but also a culture. The Bicycle Film Festival features a collection of independent film productions from around the globe, telling tales of joy and tears about cycling. The 2011 world tour drew an audience of over 300,000 from over 20 cities around the world. Held in Hong Kong this time, the festival coincides with the city’s post-Olympics cycling fever, opening up to the local community the infinite possibilities about cycling beyond the countryside cycling tracks.
對白以英語為主,非英語對白將附設英文字幕。
Dialogue is mainly in English. Non English soundtracks will have English subtitles.
單車電影節的四日節目包括電影攝影及古董單車展覽單車樂悠遊售票情況,可參看網站總頁
For Bicycle Film Festival’s 4-day programmes, including MovieExhibitionsFun Ride and Ticketing, please see BFF website HERE.
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The Road Safety Council recently changed its guidance regarding where cyclists should be in the roadspace. It now tells cyclists to be in the middle of any narrow lane (ie. when another vehicle cannot safely be alongside within the lane) or when you are approaching a turn.

On Hong Kong’s confined streets, this has many benefits: it makes you much more visible to drivers, gives you some space on your left when vehicles come too close, and ensures that drivers think before they overtake you rather than believing they can “just squeeze past” when you are nearer the kerb.

I saw this post on the fantastic bikeyface blog today and thought it was very appropriate:

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Whenever a person first discovers I bike, they reply with a story. And it’s always the same story.

“I was driving down [insert any road name] when all of the sudden I saw a cyclist in the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD!”  Inevitably it always ends with them saying they “just tapped on their horn” or “squeezed by” or “yelled out to the cyclist.” 

And many many times I’ve been the cyclist in one of these stories – the one sharing the road with a driver that isn’t aware of the basic road rules regarding bikes.

What’s worse is that sometimes reasonable people panic at the sight of a bicycle in the lane… and then all that reason flies out the window.

Middle of the Road

So I wanted to explain it to those who have never biked in the city:

Middle of the Road

And there’s more. Bikes are small, but they still need space. Cars should give cyclists the same amount of space when passing as another vehicle, at least 3 ft. However, not all roads allow for that, particularly in Boston:

Middle of the Road

So don’t panic when you see a bike in your lane. Just treat it like another vehicle. If you can pass safely, that’s fine. If not, most likely you won’t be slowed down much if at all. In the city, I find that car traffic slows me down much more than the other way around.

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以單車作為交通工具的眾多好處之中,零空氣污染排放及無噪音污染是對城巿的其中兩個好處,這是對整個社會甚至地球的貢獻。

去年(2011)是香港有紀錄以來路邊空氣污染最嚴重的一年,而香港的主要空氣污染物是來自交通的排放。所以香港各界都應當認真檢討這城巿是否可以繼續讓這麼多的車輛(包括公共運輸的車輛)在城巿中行駛,並且認真看待單車及步行作為城市交通工具的角色;這是刻不容緩的事,因為按估計每年有3200人因空氣污染而提早死亡!

為宣揚香港渴求健康空氣的訊息,並鼓勵大眾多使用無空氣污染排放的交通工具,「健康空氣行動」(Clean Air Network )會於12月2日下午舉辦一個名為「綠悠遊 Clean Air Drive」的活動,活動集合一眾人士騎乘電動車、單車及其他零污染交通工具,由九龍灣零碳天地(九龍灣常悅道,MegaBox旁)出發,沿一條特別路線遊走,如果從高空向下望,該路線會畫出 A I R 三個英文大字,藉此宣揚香港渴求健康空氣的訊息。

來讓我們一起踏單車,或者用滑板、步行…參加這個有意義的活動,讓香港看見單車這交通工具如何能為香港的空氣質素提供一個真正零污染的選擇。

活動詳情請參閱:http://www.hongkongcan.org/chi/2012/11/cleanairdrive/

Clean Air Drive event logo

Clean Air Drive event logo

 

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As Boulder edges out Portland for the title of North America’s most bike friendly city (in one ranking, anyway), and Amsterdam and Copenhagen jostle for the European cycling crown, we ask ourselves, how do Asia’s cities measure up for getting around on two wheels?

Beijing is the capital of the world’s most cycling-rich country, and still designed for bikes. Its cycling modal share may have dropped from 63% to 17% but could improve again soon – the city government aims to boost it to 23% by 2015.  Hangzhou has the world’s largest public bike share scheme, with an incredible 65,000 bikes at 2400 rental stations.  And Kunming is appreciated by those that ride there; it has a comfortable pace of life, and plenty of space.  Across the water, Kyoto is a functional cycling city with a dash of European style – it’s normal to ride everywhere around town, dressed for the destination, not the vehicle.

Taiwan is on everyone’s cycling radar these days: Taipei has a wonderful network of paths, and the Kaohsiung public bike share scheme is fab.  The city has 150 km of tracks and a lot of the back streets are free of road markings, so everyone drives gently and looks out for everyone else.  Even in Singapore, the government took the step that Hong Kong first needs to: publicly stating that cycling is transport, and then implementing measures to facilitate it.  They’ve been a bit quiet about it recently though.

Melbourne gets rated highly.  It’s flat and there’s a modest bike share scheme in the city centre. The 200+ km Around the Bay in a Day event draws the crowds and raises cycling’s profile. But Australia’s mandatory helmets law adds hassle for newcomers.  In fun places like Bali or Chiang Mai, cycling is widespread and effective, and certainly friendly, but it’s not quite urban cycling. 

One from the back pocket: three years ago, authorities in Seoul announced that the city would increase bicycle use from 1.6 percent to 10 percent by 2020. How are they doing?

What about Pyongyang?  The roads are blessedly free of cars (since no one can afford them) and 70% of North Korean households rely on their bikes to get around.  Plus, the new, young, just-possibly-normal leader, Kim Jong Un, recently rescinded the 16-year ban on women riding bikes (though it was introduced after the hit-and-run death of the daughter of a prominent general as she cycled in the capital).

And what does Hong Kong have to do to be a contender?  The administration’s negligent contribution is a handicap of course.  But huge numbers of people cycle anyway, for transport and enjoyment, and both the urban areas and countryside offer huge potential for getting around on two wheels. Shouldn’t enthusiastic and increasing participation count for us, or at least boost our chances for the future?  And will the government see the light some time soon?

 

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An interesting new report from Civic Exchange takes a detailed look at how we should be moving around – and enjoying – our built space, here in Hong Kong.  It focuses on walking but embraces cycling as part of a much-needed shift in thinking towards personal mobility.  Cycling and walking are together at the core of a global change in urban planning that is sadly not yet seriously encountered within the realm of .gov.hk.

The report points out that, increasingly, other world cities are improving transport by making “more priority to cycling and walking” a policy goal. The quote is from Melbourne, but similar examples from London, New York, Seoul, Toronto and many others are included.

If reading this study makes you want a more cyclable, as well as a more walkable, Hong Kong, and you’d like to be a part of making it happen, please contact us!

Report

 

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