Give Hong Kong Island A Continuous Harbourfront Cyclepath sign now

12 February 2011


Ms Eva Cheng
Secretary for Transport and Housing
Transport and Housing Bureau
14/F - 16/F

Murray Building
Garden Road
Hong Kong

Mr Jimmy Leung Cheuk Fai,
Director of Planning
Planning Department
17/F, North Point Government Offices
333 Java Road
North Point
Hong Kong


Mr Donald Tsang, Chief Executive of Hong Kong
Ms Carrie Lam, Secretary for Development
Mr Tsang Tak-sing, Secretary for Home Affairs
all Legislative Councillors

Secretaries of District Councils: Central and Western District, Wanchai District, Eastern District, Southern District

Harbourfront Commission

Dear Ms Cheng and Mr Leung

A continuous harbourfront cycle path on Hong Kong island

Current and planned development along the whole of the northern shore of Hong Kong island presents a challenge and an opportunity to create a harbourfront that best meets the needs of Hong Kong people and the sustainable future of this city.

We applaud the Governmentвs declared ambition for a connected and вcontinuous waterfrontв (ref) and note that it has undertaken to explore the possibility of building a cycling track along the coastline between Central and Siu Sai Wan, as an eco-friendly transport system.(ref)

We now call on the government to fulfil this vision by committing to the creation of a continuous and accessible harbourfront cycle-and-pedestrian route from Kennedy Town to Shau Kei Wan, a total of 13.5 km.

A continuous cycle path will serve Hong Kong in several valuable ways:

# A leisure facility for Hong Kong people to enjoy and which offers health, social, environmental and economic benefits.

# A transport artery on Hong Kong island, enabling safe, pollution-free individual movement between district centres, reducing demand on roads and public transport.

# A tourism draw that will enable overseas visitors to appreciate the Hong Kong attraction they have heard most about but currently can barely access в Victoria Harbour.

However the imperative value of a cycleway is as an essential element of an integrated, vibrant, connected harbourfront. By facilitating individual movement between all points along the waterfront, the cycleway transforms the harbourfront from a few isolated вdestinationsв, reachable only via selected corridors from further inland, into a living, integrated entity and attraction in its own right.

Present visions of вthe harbourfrontв often concentrate on the Central-Wanchai section, presenting intensively managed piazzas with generous helpings of вvibrancyв. But a cycle path would allow ready access to all waterfront locations, including less developed areas such as those вhiddenв behind tunnel entrances and roads. The whole length of the interface with our harbour could then become truly vibrant as people use this new space to create their own activities, whether commercial or non-commercial. We might see choir practice at dusk, candlelit picnics, fishing, school trips, treasure hunts, annual office bike ride and seafood dinner, canoe club, craft goods for sale, a sponsored hop along the waterfront, and as much else as we can collectively imagine.

Experience in numerous cities around the world has shown that the promotion of cycling is a simple, rapid, and cost-effective way to achieve multiple public benefits. It improves individual and population health, bringing substantial savings in lower health costs. It enhances transportation efficiency. It reduces air pollution and noise pollution. It reduces consumption of fossil fuels. It teaches crucial life skills to our children. It calms traffic. It lowers infrastructure costs. It enhances civic involvement. It attracts tourists.

Along with the continuity of the cycle path, a key element is connectivity with the road system, inland destinations and public transport interchanges. Many minor roads already adjacent to the cycleway alignment are able to accommodate cycle passage, requiring only a simple at-grade interface.

The cycle path is thus both an attractive harbour element in itself, and the access backbone to otherwise less accessible parts of the waterfront.

Cycle access is uniquely adaptable, as bikes provide both relatively rapid movement along open stretches as well as a leisurely and accommodating mode in more highly trafficked locations. Bikes are quiet, non-polluting, unobtrusive and can mix harmoniously with pedestrian traffic. Moreover, cyclists are transformed into pedestrians in a trice, offering unmatchable personal mobility.

Furthermore, the cycleway keys into a people-focused harbourfront, free of costly, noisy, expensive and environmentally degrading heavy infrastructure. Simple landscaping and trees/shrubs could mask nearby roads and ugly installations, leaving harbour visitors to enjoy the peace and the harbour.

A continuous harbourfront cycle path is thus not merely a desirable feature but rather a key integrating element of a vibrant and valuable waterfront. Without it, the much of the harbourfront is likely to remain wastefully underutilised, when exactly these interstitial and more remote locations в with their unmatched views, fresh air and opportunities в are most needed by the community.

Current status

In 2009, Secretary for Development Carrie Lam confirmed that government was exploring the possibility of building a cycling track along the Hong Kong island harbourfront, as an eco-friendly transport system. She was referring to the Hong Kong Island East Harbourfront Study and the Urban Design Study for the New Central Harbourfront.

At other times, the government has undertaken to вexplore opportunities for providing cycle tracks at suitable locations along the waterfront promenade in Central and Eastern Districts of the Hong Kong Island under the Urban Design Study for the New Central Harbourfront and the Hong Kong Island East Harbourfront Studyв. (ref and others)

But what is the current status? Has serious consideration been given to cycling along the harbourfront, as promised?

The HKIEH Study Stage 2 Proposals explicitly recognise the вgeneral public request for a continuous cycle track along the waterfront promenadeв but then immediately say that an extensive cycle track вmay not be technically feasible .. due to the topography and insufficient space available.в Where is the empirical support for this casual dismissal of a clear public desire?

At a few locations, the possibility of closed recreational вcycle tracksв have been admitted for consideration, which in the case of the Central-Wanchai section come with an explicit dismissal of any transport function or continuity.

Cycling all the way

Close inspection the full length of the Hong Kong waterfront and current plans reveals that there is no significant barrier to the completion of a continuous cycle path.

Please refer to the attached appendix for more detailed consideration of the proposed route.

Today, 12 February 2011, hundreds of cyclists в who use their bicycles for transport, for pleasure and for sport, together with many who would like to cycle more, are for the fourth time riding in support of a continuous harbourfront cycle path on Hong Kong island.

The Path Ahead

The creation of continuous harbourfront cycle and pedestrian connectivity requires, firstly, a commitment from government, to fulfil its pledge to enable a connected waterfront.

We therefore call on the Government to urgently:

1. Commit to planning and creating a continuous harbourfront cycle path along the northern Hong Kong island coastline.

2. Recognise the need for a planning approach that spans multiple departments and to establish a single empowered authority to manage this project

3. Overturn its current policy of not recognising cycling as a significant component of the transportation system, one that brings enormous societal benefits in terms of efficiency and quality of life.

Hong Kong has a growing global reputation as a pollution and environmental black spot. The Hong Kong Island Harbourfront Cycle Path would be a valuable asset for the people of Hong Kong in a multitude of ways and would go some way towards restoring Hong Kongвs tarnished position as a desirable place to live.

Yours sincerely

Martin Turner, for Hong Kong Cycling Alliance
Ho Loy
Jackey Law, for Hong Kong Cycle Information Net
and on behalf of the many hundreds of participants in the ride of 12th Feb., and others throughout Hong Kong, as indicated

Appendix One

Consideration of route of proposed Hong Kong Island Harbourfront Cycle Path
From West to East:

* Kennedy Town, Shek Kong Tsui.

Under the Draft Kennedy Town and Mount Davis Outline Zoning Plan (issued by the TPB in March 2010), this area will continue to be mainly residential, at a quite high density. Moreover, residents of Western and Kennedy Town have identified a cycle path as the single most desired feature of their waterfront, in a 2009 survey by Urban Planning students at Hong Kong University. This section is partly occupied by Western District Public Cargo Working Area, which, although operational, could nevertheless accommodate this section of the continuous cycle path with full harbour view. Central and Western District Council has indicated support for a continuous promenade along the PCWA.

* Sai Ying Pun, Sheung Wan.

Much of this section of waterfront is currently inaccessible and little used. The section next to Western Wholesale Food Market (an active market, managed by AFCD) offers development potential, as four of its five piers and much of the seaward side are currently unused.(ref) Both AFCD and the operators have indicated their support for a waterfront promenade and a detailed proposal for such at-grade pedestrian access has been developed by urban planner Dr Sujata Govada of Urban Design & Planning Consultants.(ref) This could readily be adapted to include the cycle path. An immediate local benefit would be much improved access for local people to the underused Central & Western District Community Garden, currently trapped behind the entrance to the Western Harbour Crossing, as well as Western Park Sports Centre and Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park. (Current Development Bureau plans merely add вconnectivity across roadsв (ref).)

Further east, the waterfront park at the former Sheung Wan Gala Point (and pedestrian link to Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park) are already planned to be improved with an at-grade harbourfront footpath, making the inclusion of this section of the cycle path a simple addition.(ref)

* Central-Wanchai

In the Public Opinion Collection Exercise of the Urban Design Study for the New Central Harbourfront Stage 2, the expectation of a cycle track as a connectivity element along the Waterfront Promenade (Sites 6 & 7) is a recurring theme, with multiple requests from the public, District Councillors, Town Planning Board members and urban design professionals. (In the report, cycle track/cycling is mentioned even more than walk/walking/walkway etc.)

Hence we are pleased that an undertaking to include a cycle track on the Central-Wanchai harbourfront was made by Planning Department in 2009. However it has not yet been confirmed that this will be continuous, connected or even along the waterfront.

At the Western end of this section, the provision of cycle path access past the Central Ferry Piers offers immediate benefits as leisure and commuter arrivals by ferry switch immediately to bicycle transport (whether pre-parked, rented or brought on the ferry), eliminating the need for much bus, taxi, and private car traffic. (For example, to reach Wanchai North or the Convention Centre would take approximately 5 minutes by bike в itвs only 1.5 km.)

* Causeway Bay

This section is subject to details of the construction of the CentralвWan Chai Bypass. With the commitment to a continuous waterfront, there is no obstacle to the incorporation of this section of the cycle path.

* Fortress Hill в Quarry Bay.

The Hong Kong Island East Harbourfront Study Stage 2 Proposals adopt the Eastern District Council request for a boardwalk under the Island Eastern Corridor, from the vicinity of Oil Street in Fortress Hill to the new promenade at Hoi Yu Street (around two kilometres). Eastern District Council has supported the inclusion of cycleway along the boardwalk, as proposed by Hong Kong Cycling Alliance in 2007, and the Secretary of Development announced consultations on the possible alignment of a cycleway in Eastern District in March 2009, apparently referring to the boardwalk. However, the Study Stage 2 does not discuss the possibility in any depth, except in the ungrounded dismissal referenced above. Either of the two proposed boardwalk solutions could easily accommodate cycling, as either a cycleway or a mixed environment.

The HKIEH Study also proposes an вinformal cycle trackв at the North Point Ferry Piers promenade.(ref) Again this refers to a restricted area of some cycle activity that fails to achieve the broad societal benefits of cycling in transport efficiency, improved connectivity and environmental substitution gains.

* Hoi Yu Street (Quarry Bay)

At this barren site a вtemporaryв waterfront promenade is planned for rapid development (with CEDD as Project Proponent), which could easily include this section of the cycleway (ref). The Hong Kong Island East Harbourfront Study, Option 1, already proposes a вrecreational cycle routeв for this area. Of course, a cycle throughway would encompass the benefits of a minor recreational track, and a very great deal more.) (The current use of small parts of this waterfront by Towngas and the New Hong Kong Tunnel Company would not be adversely affected by the cycleway alignment and so their cooperation should be possible. Subsequent development of this section in a proposed Public-Private Partnership should equally be able to accommodate the cycle throughway.

* Quarry Bay Park (Phase 1, along the waterfront)

This LCSD-operated park should present little difficulty to the incorporation of this section of the cycleway. The park is currently difficult to access due to its location across the main road from Tai Koo Shing and inefficiently used as its longitudinal format reduces attractiveness to foot visitors of parts distant form entrances. This вcompromised access due to the location of the roadwayв and вfor a park of this size, very little actual вparkв space for enjoymentв has been noted by Swire Properties, operator of Tai Koo Shing, which proposes greater integration of waterfront properties in the area to create a вcontiguous waterfront promenadeв. (see Swire ref)

The HKIEH Study Stage 2 Proposals explicitly recognise the 'general public request for a continuous cycle track along the waterfront promenade' but then immediately say that an extensive cycle track 'may not be technically feasible .. due to the topography and insufficient space available'.

* Sai Wan Ho

This is already a waterfront, with a small ferry terminus and some restaurants. Tai Hong Street could readily become a vibrant waterfront and al fresco dining area, as envisaged in other harbourfront visions в but much more vibrant if people can reach it enjoyably.

* Shau Kei Wan.

Aldrich Bay Park is due for completion in early 2011. Once again, as established open public space, the inclusion of cycle access, accommodating to other park uses, presents no insuperable difficulties.

* Heng Fa Chuen and Chai Wan.

A public вcantilevered boardwalkв is already proposed from the vicinity of Aldrich Bay Promenade around the Lei Yue Mun headland to Heng Fa Chuen. (ref, HKIEHS) This might also carry a continuation of the cycleway, to enable hill-free cycle access for Chai Wan residents and visitors.

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