We advocate a programme to promote increased levels of cycling in Hong Kong. The proposed measures improve environmental conditions for everybody. More cycling means fewer motorised trips resulting in improved air quality and reduction in vehicle noise pollution. Hong Kong has been slow in awakening to the need for curbing traffic or creating better conditions for pedestrians. The potential for functional cycling with its tremendous benefits has been totally overlooked, putting Hong Kong drastically out of step with major world class cities.
We cite New York and London as sample cities for implementing pro-cycling measures. Let us then aspire to similar standards as London and New York where the right to individual mobility by bicycle is officially respected and promoted, not persecuted as is actually happening in the SAR due to the unchecked, unsustainable, proliferation of cars, buses, and other road-hogging motor vehicles whose domination effectively strips citizens of the right to choose individual mobility by bicycle as an alternative.
New York’s Transportation Alternatives stated in their Bicycle Blueprint of 1993: “We protest the poor conditions that keep us second-class citizens and inhibit our fellow New Yorkers from cycling. Our city offers ideal density and topography for cycling, but our streets are inhospitable for all but the most intrepid.” The same situation applies in Hong Kong today. New York cyclists and environmentalists have campaigned for improved conditions and nowadays there are over 100,000 daily cyclist commuters. Even in the densest part of Manhattan, South of 63d Street there are an estimated 20,000 cyclists every day. Cycling has become so marginalised in Hong Kong that the civil right to travel by bicycle is being undermined.Marginalisation of cycling includes trying to make people believe that cycling should only be on cycle tracks in the New Territories and mountain bike trails in remote Country Parks; or it is supported only as a competetive sport. Yet the Hong Kong Road Users Code states “cyclists are entitled to the same consideration as other road users”. The choice to use the healthiest and most environmentally friendly transport option should be readily available to all. Many who own and drive cars, as well as those who mainly use public transport (the vast majority) would welcome the alternative of a cheaper, healthier commuter option if given incentives and encouragement.
In London today, cycling has a higher profile than ever and is vigorously supported by ex-mayor Ken Livingston who says: “Over half of all trips inLondon are less than two miles, easily within cycling distance”, and the current mayor, Boris Johnson is also a keen cyclist. The same is certainly true of Hong Kong, but here nothing is being done about it, whereas London is pioneering measures to cut car use, slow down traffic and encourage cycling with provision of on-road bike lanes, bike parking, signposted cycle routes, etc., throughout the city. Go to the London Cycling Campaign website for details.
The Hong Kong Transport Department has commissioned a “cycling study” from a consultant. In every other city in the world where such studies and bikeplans have been initiated, the terms of reference were to promote and increase cycling as much as possible. The danger with this government is that its brief may be skewed away from the progressive direction of “world cities” as advocated above.
Instead of attaining a bike plan leading towards Hong Kong becoming a truly bicycle-friendly city, the government is capable of kow-towing to pressures from the powerful car and road transport lobbies which demand every yard of space for themselves. Instead of promoting cycling as a healthy, life-affirming, everyday part of city living, we fear the plan could continue down the path of marginalising cycling even more. Therefore your voice is needed to lobby for improvements (Specific details of which can be found on our Encourage Cycling in HK page). If you are broadly in agreement with the points advocated for more and better cycling in Hong Kong please Register.
Great thanks go to Matteo for allowing us to use his photo of the delivery cyclist. He writes on his own blog about riding vintage Fuji bikes "There is something special about these vintage fuji bicycles. It is inexplainable, but it is real. They are quality. They are beautiful. They surpass expectation.". See more at Fuji Crazy
Many thanks also to Christopher Dewolf for his photo of cycling at sunset in Ma on Shan. His photos can be found at his Flickr Site, and some of his many writings & photos can be found at Urbanphoto.net
Huge Thanks to Jason Findlay for the photo of the Harbourfront bike Ride 5 near Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter