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LCQ19: "Bicycle-friendly" environment

     Following is a question by the Hon Elizabeth Quat and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, in the Legislative Council today (January 27):


     In this year's Policy Address, the Government states that it will foster a "bicycle-friendly environment" in new towns and new development areas.  However, there are comments that the Government's specific policies and measures in this respect are inadequate, failing to address the needs of cyclists.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) given that the Civil Engineering and Development Department is developing by phases a cycle track network of a total length of about 104 kilometres, which will link up the east and west of the New Territories and pass through the North District, Tai Po, Sha Tin, Yuen Long, Tuen Mun and Tsuen Wan, whether the Government will conduct a study on linking up the cycle tracks in the Sai Kung District (including Tseung Kwan O) with the aforesaid network; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(2) given that the Sha Tin District Council has commissioned The Chinese University of Hong Kong to conduct a feasibility study on the introduction of a self-service bicycle hiring system and the outcome of the study is positive, whether the Government will reconsider implementing a trial scheme on the system in Sha Tin District with a view to extending the system to other districts upon successful trial; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(3) whether the Government will reserve lands for the construction of cycle tracks when planning redevelopment projects in Kowloon and on the Hong Kong Island so as to progressively improve the cycle track networks in Kowloon and on the Hong Kong Island; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(4) as more and more members of the public use bicycles as the mode of transport for them, and their demand for cycle parking spaces as well as ancillary facilities for cycle tracks is on the rise, whether the Government will review its policy of positioning bicycles as recreational sport equipment and re-position bicycles by making reference to overseas experience, so as to foster a bicycle-friendly environment; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(5) as more and more people ride bicycles on the road, whether the Government will consider incorporating bicycle-friendly elements in road design; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(6) given that regulation 51 of the Road Traffic (Traffic Control) Regulations (Cap. 374G) provides that no person shall ride a bicycle on a road during the hours of darkness or in poor visibility conditions unless he shows a white light at the front and a red light at the rear of the bicycle, but the regulation does not set out any requirement on the brightness, illumination area and angle of the white light at the front, whether the Government will add the relevant requirements to this regulation so as to protect the safety of cyclists and other road users; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     The Government's current policy is to foster a "bicycle-friendly" environment where road safety and conditions permit, especially in new towns and new development areas, so as to promote cycling as a green mode for short-distance commuting and to reduce the use of mechanised transport.  As such, cycling is no longer regarded as a leisure activity only.  My reply to the various parts of Dr Hon Elizabeth Quat's question is as follows.

(1)&(3) According to the Development Bureau (DEVB), it has explored the construction of a branch of the New Territories cycle track network connecting Ma On Shan and Sai Kung, and has examined various alignment options for the proposed cycle track.  However, the proposal met with numerous technical issues, including the need for large-scale tree felling and the impact on ecology, etc.  After having detailed review, the DEVB eventually decided to withdraw the proposal and announced the decision in 2014.

     As for the proposal for extending the New Territories cycle track network to Tseung Kwan O, Tseung Kwan O is surrounded by hilly surroundings and the existing roads providing access to Tseung Kwan O (such as Hiram's Highway and New Clear Water Bay Road) are constructed along the hilly terrain with steep gradients, the existing roadsides are therefore not suitable for constructing cycle tracks.  If a cycle track is to be constructed along the waterfront to Tseung Kwan O, it will involve issues like environmental impact and cost-effectiveness.  Thus, the DEVB has no plan to extend the New Territories cycle track network to Tseung Kwan O at this stage.

     As for new development areas in urban areas, the Government will consider introducing cycle track networks in potential projects during the planning stage.  For instance, the Government is carrying out a large-scale urban development project at the former Kai Tak Airport.  According to the Kai Tak Outline Zoning Plan, there is plan for a cycle track network of about 6.6 km in length within the Kai Tak Development Area (KTDA).  In response to public aspiration for wider coverage of the cycle track network, the DEVB has proposed extending it to around 13 km, and has secured public support during the public consultation on the extension proposal.  In future, the cycle track network of the KTDA will mainly be provided within open spaces.  The cycle track network will link up major attractions in the KTDA. The DEVB will also explore the option of extending the network to the Mass Transit Railway station of the Shatin to Central Link under construction.

     In addition, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) will construct a cycle track in the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) Park for public use.

(2) Between 2010 and 2013, the Transport Department (TD) commissioned a consultancy study entitled "Traffic and Transport Consultancy Study on Cycling Networks and Parking Facilities in Existing New Towns in Hong Kong".  Overseas experience, among other things, was studied in examining the feasibility of developing a self-service bicycle rental system in new towns.  Conclusions of the study are as follows:

(i) a self-service bicycle rental system needs to provide public bicycle rental service at various locations at the same time to facilitate rental, return and change of bicycles by locals and tourists.  Only then would the system attract patronage;

(ii) a self-service bicycle rental system requires frequent transfer of bicycles to ensure that there are adequate bicycles available for rental at various rental points.  The bicycles also need to be regularly maintained.  Backup bicycles should also be available to replace those under repair or being stolen.  Thus, the operating costs are relatively high; and

(iii) the existing private rental services can already meet the current market demand, so there is no need for a public rental system.

     In addition, the land in Hong Kong is limited.  It will be difficult to provide public bicycle rental systems at numerous locations.  Therefore, we have to carefully examine the matter and no plan to introduce a self-service bicycle rental system at the moment.

Having said that, the WKCDA has launched a pilot self-service bicycle rental scheme at the waterfront promenade of the WKCD, with two bicycle stations set up for public use.  The WKCDA will continue to assess and improve the service before the commissioning of the Park.

(4)&(5) As mentioned above, the Government endeavours to promote a "bicycle-friendly" environment.  New towns and new development areas with lower traffic density are more suitable for commuters to use bicycles for short-distance commuting.  Urban areas, on the other hand, are generally having heavier traffic and densely populated.  With limited land and road spaces, it is very difficult to find suitable places for constructing cycle tracks in urban areas.  Due to road safety considerations, the Government does not encourage the public to use bicycles as a mode of transport in urban areas.

     The TD is conducting a consultancy study to examine ways to improve the existing cycling tracks and bicycle facilities in new towns, including, among others, the improvement of connectivity, the enhancement of safety and the provision of more bicycle parking spaces.  The TD will implement the improvement measures proposed in the consultancy study in phases.

(6) According to the Road Traffic (Traffic Control) Regulations and the Road Users' Code, a cyclist cycling at night or in poor visibility must switch on bicycle lamps, i.e. a white light to the front and a red light to the rear.  Currently, the regulations have not set out any requirements on the specifications of bicycle lamps and neither have some other developed countries (such as the Netherlands and Singapore) prescribed any statutory requirements on the specifications of bicycle lamps.  We will conduct review from time to time having regard to actual circumstances (including safety considerations) to ensure that the regulations are in line with the actual need.

Ends/Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Issued at HKT 13:15


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