A flyover in Hong Kong’s busy urban district of Kwun Tong is set to open to cyclists as the first part of a scheme to lift a biking ban on 16 bridges and underpasses in the coming months.
The decision to abolish “bicycle prohibition zones” on the Choi Ha Road flyover and another 15 sections of road is being seen as the first step to a long-awaited lifting of cycling restrictions.
But the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance said the changes were “completely inadequate” when measured against the 340 bicycle prohibition zones across the city.
Meanwhile, district councillors expressed concern about the possible effect on road safety.
The Transport Department did not offer an exact timetable but said consultations on the issue with district councils would not be completed until the first quarter of next year.
Most of the 340 prohibition zones are on flyovers and underpasses. Signs mark the areas.
In 2013 the department commissioned a consultant to review 105 zones. The study, completed at the end of last year, proposed lifting the ban at 16 spots in eight districts based on road gradient, traffic speed and vehicle volume.
Kennedy Road flyover near St Joseph’s Church in Central, Shek O Headland Road and Shek O Village Road on the southern side of Hong Kong Island are among the 16 places set for a relaxation of the rules.
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Four more are near the West Kowloon terminal for the new Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.
A spokesman for the department said it had been consulting stakeholders since January, including district councils and cycling associations. Yau Tsim Mong, Sham Shui Po, Wong Tai Sin and Kwun Tong were spoken to between January and March.
The spokesman said work would go ahead to lift the ban on Choi Ha Road. This included the removal of traffic signs, new road markings and the modification of parapets.
Sources familiar with such work said it would usually take one to two months to complete.
“Consultations with the remaining district councils will be completed in the first quarter of 2019,” the spokesman said.
He said a timetable would depend on the results as well as the scope of modification work and any physical constraints at the sites.
Cycling Alliance chairman Martin Turner said it was “completely inadequate” that only 16 locations had been found suitable.
“There is nothing to be happy about or celebrate,” he said. “The Transport Department does not have a sensible approach to supporting and accommodating road users using bicycles.”
But Kwun Tong district councillor Nelson Chan Wah-yu said the slope on the Choi Ha Road flyover would pose a hazard to cyclists.
Yau Tsim Mong district councillor Derek Hung Chiu-wah said lifting the ban at the 16 locations would not affect traffic flow or the safety of motorists.
But he conceded that the owners’ committees of several residential estates near the four prohibition zones in his district had written to the department to oppose the lifting of the ban.
16 bicycle prohibition zones to be scrapped
Central and Western
Kennedy Road flyover near St Joseph’s Church – northbound and southbound
Shek O Headland Road – eastbound
Shek O Village Road – eastbound
Yau Tsim Mong
Wui Cheung Road – westbound
Jordan Road between Canton Road linking Canton Road and Temporary Road
Nga Cheung Road elevated section linking Austin Road West – northbound and southbound
Sham Shui Po
Nam Cheong Street flyover to Lung Ping Road – northbound
Wong Tai Sin
Fung Mo Street flyover – northbound
Choi Ha Road flyover – westbound and eastbound
Hin Keng Street – eastbound
Northern Approach flyover to Siu Hong MTR station – southbound
Northern public transport interchange of Siu Hong station – northbound and southbound