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!
We’ve seen a copy of an internal guideline of KMB allowing folded bicycles of less than 0.1m3 in size to be brought on their buses. The requirement is to make bicycle a carry-on luggage. We wonder how useful is that guideline for people who want to bring their bicycles on buses. Here is a simple survey to see which bicycles can fit in the 0.1m3 requirement.
Please tell us how big is your bicycle (in m3) and what is the make by replying this post.
To calculate the volume of the bicycle in folded condition, just measure its length (L), height (H) and width (W) in metre and then multiply all 3 measurements. That is: length (m) x height (m) and width (m) = volume (m3)
Are cyclists killing themselves on the roads, or is it time for the Hong Kong Government and the police to realise that the majority of cyclists killed each year are cycling on the roads, and are killed by vehicles.
The Hong Kong Police are about to start one of their biannual safe cycling campaigns, giving the police a chance to tell cyclists how to behave whilst letting drivers of vehicles who are the real dangers on the roads for cyclists, continue to put cyclists lives at risk.
Does anyone really believe that cyclists need telling how to behave around drivers?
Anyone who cycles on the roads here already knows the rules and how to ride safely without needing the police to tell them how to do it. The best way to bring down the numbers of cyclists killed in Hong Kong each year is to start proper driver education, showing drivers how to behave around cyclists.
Police will hold a citywide safe cycling campaign from September 19 to 25, taking stringent enforcement action on cyclists disobeying road rules.
Between January and August, there were 1,639 traffic accidents involving bicycles, resulting in 1,540 cyclist casualties. The figures are up 11% and 10% on last year. Six cyclists died in traffic accidents in the first eight months of this year, a decrease of four when compared with the same period last year.
Common cycling offences include carrying another person, carrying an animal or article which obstructs the cyclist’s view, riding a bicycle on the footpath, and riding without illuminated lights.
HKCAll has surveyed candidates in Sunday’s (9 Sept) elections for the Legislative Council for their views on cycling.
The results show that many strongly support the substantive development of cycling for Hong Kong. Some are better informed than others, but this is an important time for progress in many areas, with important decisions being made about key development projects, such as West Kowloon, Kai Tak and Northern District, as well as the sluggish development of the New Territories Cycling Network. Moreover, we believe that now is the time to address the yawning policy void that the government has with regards to cycling.
It is vital that the new Legco is able to press our government to implement the visionary policies we need if Hong Kong is to properly serve the increasing number of cyclists of all stripes, and more importantly to justify its ‘world city’ label with planning and administration that integrates cycling, to ease traffic congestion, facilitate personal mobility, improve the quality of our environment (air pollution, noise pollution, excessive concrete and roads) and raise health and wellness levels for our whole population.
It’s often been my experience that drivers of large trucks are more professional than those in PSVs (public service vehicles – ones that carry passengers). They are more aware of us, less aggressive and especially much more conciliatory when you talk to them after an ‘incident’. I get the clear impression that they know they’ll be in big trouble from their employers if you escalate a complaint.
Which makes me wonder how we might work through bus companies and other organisations to influence the behaviour of the drivers they employ. Drivers of minibuses and taxis, not to mention smaller vans, may be less constrained by employers than those of large good vehicles and companies that value their public profile. Bus companies should be able to closely manage their drivers, but don’t always seem to.
Do you agree? Are drivers from some types of employer more considerate / less aggressive? Could we show that certain groups of drivers who are more closely managed drive better, and hence put pressure on other organisations (eg. bus companies) to make their drivers perform better around cyclists?
A few years ago, the New York Times published a five-sentence brief about a man who “intentionally ran over five people” with an SUV after a fight in North Bellmore, Long Island. The driver, the Times reported, “fled the scene of the accident.” The police later located the vehicle that “they believed was involved in the accident.” One of the victims was in critical condition.
Ho hum. News briefs about the previous day’s car crashes are as routine as box scores and the weather forecast. Yet, in this case, the Times’ (and, presumably, the Nassau County cops’) choice of one particular word stood out: If a man intentionally ran over five people, how could that possibly be considered an accident? If, instead of car keys, the man had picked up a gun and shot five people, would the press and police have called that an “accident” too? No. They’d have called it “attempted homicide.” Yet, for some reason when the weapon is a car, when the violence on our streets is done with a motor vehicle, it’s always just an “accident.”
So, is it any surprise that the NYPD’s “Accident” Investigation Squad so frequently declares “no criminality suspected” after a motor vehicle is used to kill a pedestrian or cyclist on New York City streets? After all, they don’t call themselves the Motor Vehicle Manslaughter Squad. They don’t think of themselves as homicide detectives, or cars as weapons, or drivers as killers. The word “accident” implies no fault. It’s what we call it when a toddler makes a small mess. “Don’t cry over spilled milk,” we say. The assumption is built into the name of the NYPD bureaucracy itself: Death by motor vehicle is an “accident” before the investigators even get to what may very well be the scene of a crime. The Accident Investigation Squad is there to clean up and keep the traffic moving.
Though it may sometimes seem otherwise, New York City drivers don’t wake up in the morning intending to harm pedestrians and cyclists. Most crashes are unintentional and “accident” is not an inaccurate word to describe them. But the fact remains: Driver negligence is the number one cause of crashes, and it’s no big surprise—or accident—when negligent driving hurts and kills people on crowded city streets. In fact, our legal system has a word for this type of unintentional killing: “Manslaughter.” Lots of work needs to be done and lots of things need to change to fix the way the NYPD deals with pedestrians and cyclists who have been injured and killed by negligent drivers. But if it’s true that small changes in language can have a big impact on public policy, then the easiest change is simply this: Stop calling car crashes “accidents.”
Many cyclists already know they are faster than cars, particularly in peak hour traffic. Yet even cyclists may be surprised at how much time bicycles can save in any city when all time costs are considered. Dr. Paul Tranter, who has written a chapter in the upcoming “City Cycling” book, tells us why.
You may already know it, but in most cities throughout the world, cycling is a “faster” mode of transportation than the car. But for those that still aren’t convinced, it’s time to learn about “effective speed”.
“Effective speed is calculated using the standard formula: speed equals distance divided by time. Time here includes not only the time spent moving; it also includes the time devoted to enabling the movement to occur,” explains Dr. Paul Tranter, a geography Professor at the University of New South Wales, and an author from the upcoming City Cycling book.
“For car drivers, a significant (and usually ignored) time cost is the time spent at work to earn the money to pay for all the expenses associated with the mode of transport.”
And he’s right. All too often, car drivers rarely consider the total time devoted to their machines. If you’re not convinced, here’s a little anecdote that Tranter tells to make to change your mind:
Imagine that you live in a village in the 1800s and that your job each day is to collect water from a nearby stream. This task takes you an hour each day. To “save time,” you construct a machine consisting of a system of pulleys, cables, levers, and springs to collect the water for you. With this machine, simply by pulling a lever, you can send your bucket to the stream and have it returned full of water. You appear to have saved yourself an hour each day. However, to get the machine to work, you must spend an hour each day winding up the spring that powers the machine. Should you consider this time in any decision about the effectiveness of the machine?
“Many motorists—and city governments—seem to ignore this time spent earning money to pay for the transportation costs, that is, the time spent winding up the spring,” explains Tranter.
We shouldn’t forget this concept of effective speed is nothing new. Ivan Ilich, in his 1974 book “Energy and Equity” outlined it perfectly:
“The typical American male devotes more than 1,600 hours a year to his car. He sits in it while it goes and while it stands idling. He spends four of his sixteen waking hours on the road or gathering his resources for it. … The model American puts in 1,600 hours to get 7,500 miles: less than five miles per hour.”
How fast is your city?
Tranter, in the upcoming “City Cycling” book, has gone to the trouble to finding just how fast cars really by crunching data on income and travel times. The results almost beggar belief.
Effective speeds for car speeds varied from 18.3 km/h in Canberra, Australia, to a mere 3 km/h in Nairobi. When the external costs are taken into account, the effective speeds for car drivers range from a high of 15.9 km/h (Canberra) to a low of 2.2 km/h (Nairobi).
“We then used these estimates to calculate how slow cyclists could cycle and still be effectively faster than a car. When both direct and indirect costs are considered, cyclists in Canberra would need to average only 18.3 km/h to be faster than a car driver. In New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Hamburg, cyclists would not need to travel faster than 13 km/h to be faster than a car,” says Tranter, before adding:
“To be effectively faster than the number-one-selling car in Australia, a cyclist in Canberra would need to cycle at only 12.7 km/h. In all other Australian cities, the cyclists could travel slower than this, and still be faster than the top-selling car.”
So what does this mean for governments?
If city governments wish to invest wisely in transportation, they need to understand that increasing the average trip speeds of private motor vehicles doesn’t actually save time. This argument applies to any city in the world.
“Those cities that invest most effectively in cycling infrastructure will find that their cities become the fastest cities in the world,” says Tranter.
Thankfully, when we’re on a bicycle we don’t always have to rush. Taking it slowly is part of the fun. But we can still feel smug as cars go past knowing who’s really the fasted.
After being hit by a taxi, Anthony has been discussing with Transport Department about installing an Advanced Stop box for cyclists on southbound Waterloo Road at the junction with Wylie Road.
Advanced Stop Lines/Boxes are used around the world, giving cyclists a safe and visible place to stop and wait at traffic lights, whilst having a minimal effect on space for cars and other vehicles. ASL’s have made a large impact in London in particular where they are installed in large numbers. It is time for Hong Kong to embrace the bicycle as a feasible mode of transport and enable it with simple measures like these.
The proposed stop box is in the centre of the photo on the left, between the two drains, taking up no existing traffic waiting space whilst enabling cyclists to wait for the traffic lights in safety.
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